Jury convicts Owls Head man of trying to get witness to change testimony

Posted March 12, 2014, at 10:58 a.m.
Last modified March 12, 2014, at 4:22 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A Knox County jury convicted a 49-year-old Owls Head man Wednesday of trying to influence a witness to change his testimony.

Steven E. Clarke was convicted by the jury of tampering with a witness. Justice Jeffrey Hjelm also found Clarke guilty in a non-jury trial of violating a condition of release in connection with the incident.

Clarke has been held without bail since November on a series of offenses, including domestic violence assault, bail violations and a second tampering with a witness charge. He also has pending cases of aggravated criminal trespass and burglary.

The trial held Wednesday in Knox County Superior Court, however, was only on the earlier charge of tampering with a witness.

Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody told jurors that Clarke was trying to undermine the justice system when he spoke to a man who had witnessed him spin out of Ron’s Auto Sales last May, an act that was also witnessed by a police officer who charged Clarke with driving to endanger.

Witness Michael Mellin testified that Clarke, who regularly came to the shop, was there as the driving-to-endanger case was close to being heard in court and spoke to Mellin about it. Mellin said Clarke talked about how he was facing jail time and the loss of his license if he was convicted of the driving charge. Clarke suggested that maybe Mellin didn’t see anything and could miss the court date, Mellin testified.

Under cross-examination by defense attorney Christopher MacLean, Mellin acknowledged that in the written statement he gave to police the morning after the conversation with Clarke, he did not write down that Clarke had asked him to miss the court date.

MacLean told jurors that Mellin did not like Clarke and they should consider that when they rule on the case, which was expected to be completed Wednesday.

Clarke has a long history of violent offenses that includes escape and assaulting an assistant district attorney. That information, however, is not being provided to jurors because it is not considered relevant to this tampering charge.

Sentencing is expected to occur on March 24 or 25. Clarke remains held without bail.

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