Lawyer withdraws during middle of hearing for Owls Head man accused of calling victim from jail

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted Jan. 08, 2014, at 4:13 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A bail revocation hearing for a 49-year-old Owls Head man — accused of a string of crimes including calling the victim from jail and trying to pay her off — ended in midstream when the man’s lawyer withdrew from the case.

Steven E. Clarke will remain held without bail until a new lawyer can be appointed and get up to speed on the case.

Clarke was first arrested in May on charges of aggravated criminal trespass, burglary, and domestic violence assault. He was free on bail awaiting trial until November when he was arrested again and charged with another domestic assault charge and tampering with a witness. He has remained jailed since and Wednesday’s hearing was being held in Knox County Superior Court to determine whether he would be allowed any bail before a trial can be held to resolve the charges.

During the hearing, Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody played audio recordings of four telephone calls between Clarke and several people from late November and early December while he was being held at the Somerset County Jail in Madison.

Two of the telephone calls were to friends who he asked to contact the victim in the domestic assault case and offer her $1,000 to “do the right thing.” Clarke said in the telephone calls that the prosecution wanted him to serve six years in prison and if that happened he would lose parental rights to his son.

Clarke was prohibited him from direct or indirect contact with the woman.

He told one of the friends that he would “throw some cash” her way if she helped him by contacting the victim.

In another call, Clarke first talks with one person but then asks to speak to the victim who was at the residence. Clarke tells the victim that someone else would be contacting her about a “lucrative offer.”

Clarke said he wanted the woman to say that her mother had pressured her into making the assault complaint.

Following a recess in the hearing, defense attorney Roger Hurley asked to withdraw from the case. He said he had reached an impasse with Clarke over the defense strategy. Hurley said he would not allow himself to degrade the judicial process but did not specify the disagreement with Clarke.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm asked the two to talk some more to see if they could work together but following that meeting, Clarke said he wanted another attorney and asked for attorney Christopher MacLean of Camden.

Hjelm agreed to allow Hurley to withdraw as soon as Clarke had another attorney. The judge told Clarke, however, that he may not get MacLean as an attorney.

According to police reports, the Clarke was charged with aggravated criminal trespass, burglary, and domestic violence assault in May after he broke into the Cushing home of Kevin Crute, assaulted a woman who was in the home, and broke a window and lamp. He was charged with driving to endanger in connection with an incident that happened two days later in Rockland. Then in November, he was charged with assaulting a former girlfriend in Rockland. He was then also charged with tampering with the latest victim.

Clarke has pleaded not guilty to the offenses.

Clarke has a lengthy criminal record that dates back to 2003 when he escaped from the Knox County Courthouse while in custody after a door to the holding room was left unlocked. He later was captured and while in court in April 2003 on that charge, he attacked Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald. Clarke was convicted of assault in that case as well as another involving assault on an officer.

In October 2012, Clarke was sentenced to another nine months and one day in jail for threatening to kill a group of people in downtown Rockland.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.

http://bangordailynews.com/2014/01/08/news/midcoast/lawyer-withdraws-during-middle-of-hearing-for-owls-head-man-accused-of-calling-victim-from-jail/ printed on August 20, 2014