June 25, 2018
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Rockland man accused of pushing wife off cliff says he can’t remember what happened

Charles R. Black
By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — A 69-year-old Rockland man accused of trying to kill his wife by pushing her off Maiden Cliff in Camden last year has no memory of the events, according to his attorney.

Defense attorney Walter McKee, who represents former Camden resident Charles R. Black, said Friday during a hearing that this would be a case of who pushed whom, not a case of a mistake or an accident.

McKee also said after the hearing held in Knox County Superior Court that he will challenge the state’s right to have obtained 540 pages of his client’s medical records. He said the state obtained the confidential records about two weeks ago through a search warrant and said the prosecution did not follow proper procedures, including notifying the court so that he could object to the request.

The trial had been rescheduled earlier this month from March to May but Justice Jeffrey Hjelm said Friday that September or October is more likely after Assistant District Attorney Chris Fernald said that there may be more evidence being provided to the state that will have to be turned over to the defense. The district attorney’s office schedule during the summer is already busy, Fernald said.

Hjelm took no action on a request by the defense to have the trial moved outside Knox County. McKee cited extensive pretrial publicity about this case in support of moving the trial to another venue such as Lincoln County, noting that news stories were written about hearings even when they were simply to amend bail conditions. Hjelm said the issue could be raised again when a jury is being selected.

McKee also asked that separate trials be held on the charges related to the alleged incident atop Mount Megunticook on April 7, 2011, and charges related to two other alleged incidents of assault against his wife, Lisa, that occurred the prior month.

McKee said it would be unfair to bring up the prior issues that occurred on separate dates and that do not relate to the allegations of the April 7 incident.

Fernald argued, however, that those earlier alleged acts on March 17 and March 24 go directly to motive, intent and planning. In one of those earlier incidents, according to police reports, Charles Black climbed a ladder to the couple’s attic. When his wife was on the ladder, he fell on her with all his weight and later claimed he had passed out, according to the report. In the other incident, the couple was on Mount Battie and she was hit from behind by her husband. He claimed to her that he had passed out in that instance as well, according to police reports.

“These all show intent, a common scheme, and motive,” Fernald said.

Hjelm did not rule on the request for separate trials but said he likely would issue an order in a week to 10 days.

Black was indicted in July on charges of attempted murder, two counts of elevated aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of domestic violence assault.

The state alleges that Black struck his wife, Lisa, one or more times in the head with a rock, dragged her body to the edge of the cliff and pushed her off the mountain. Black 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 filed at the time of the incident.

Lisa Black 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. She was taken to the hospital, and Charles Black was found injured after a subsequent search. He was arrested a few days later after he was released from Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

His wife had recently inherited $4 million and she told police that her husband had been taking her money without her permission, according to police reports. The wife also maintained that Charles Black had been having an online affair with a former girlfriend from Arizona.

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