May 23, 2018
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State seeks to offer evidence that man accused of trying to kill wife on Camden cliff also tried to poison her

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — The prosecution has asked the court to allow it to present evidence to a jury that a former Camden resident accused of trying to push his wife off a cliff had previously tried to poison her.

A motion was filed Monday in Knox County Superior Court by Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald asking the court to allow statements to be heard by jurors about the possible attempts by Charles Black to drug or poison the victim.

Black’s attorney, Walter McKee, said he will argue against such testimony being offered.

“This case has now gone from the unbelievable to the completely bizarre,” McKee said Wednesday. “Rest assured that if somehow the court allows this incredible testimony, it will be vigorously attacked and shown to be entirely untrue.”

Jury selection is to begin Monday.

Black, 71, is charged with attempted murder, two counts of elevated aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of domestic violence assault. He is accused of trying to push his then-wife, Lisa Black, off Maiden Cliff in Camden on the afternoon of April 7, 2011. The couple has since divorced.

Charles Black has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

In the motion filed Monday, the prosecution states that a woman from Kansas City, Missouri, contacted its office to say she had information relevant to the Black case. A Maine State Police detective interviewed the woman.

“[The woman] overheard a conversation the defendant had with [another woman] in July or August 2012 in which they said if they had gotten the dosage right, referring to injecting valium into a wine cork and giving the wine to Charles’ wife, the defendant would not be in the trouble that he was in now,” the motion states.

The motion does not state when the woman came forward with the information.

Fernald declined to comment on the case, citing the pending jury selection.

According to the court document, the potential witness from Missouri said that the woman whose conversation she overheard had gone to stay with the Blacks prior to the April 2011 incident.

The document also states that Lisa Black told police there were several incidents in which Charles Black may have given her poison or drugs, including once in 2010 when the woman named by the potential witness had come to be a house sitter when the Blacks were planning a trip to Italy.

The prosecution argues that the evidence is relevant and admissible in order to show motive, according to the motion.

According to police records filed shortly after the April 2011 incident, Black and his wife were hiking in April 2011, when he struck her one or more times in the head with a rock, dragged her body to the edge of Maiden Cliff and pushed her over. Black later told police he had passed out and fell forward, striking the back of his wife’s head with his head, according to the police report.

His wife fell a short distance but then got up and managed to make it down to the bottom of the mountain, where she was spotted by a passing motorist and taken to a hospital.

Black was found injured after a subsequent search and arrested a few days later after being released from Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

Police records from the time of Black’s arrest indicate that Lisa Black inherited $4 million shortly before the incident and told police her husband was taking money without her permission. She also told officers that her husband had been having an online affair with a former girlfriend. She told police that there had been an earlier incident when her husband fell on top of her from a ladder, and she believed that was an attempt to kill her, but he claimed again that he had blacked out.

Justice Joyce Wheeler is scheduled to preside over the trial which is expected to last two weeks.

The case has taken more than three years to go to trial as various motions, in particular over the admissibility of Charles Black’s medical records, have wound their way through the system.

Last month, Justice Jeffrey Hjelm ruled that Black cannot stay in Camden during the trial. The victim lives in Camden. Black lives out-of-state.


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