Prosecution seeks clarification on use of medical records in case of man accused of trying to push wife off Camden cliff

Posted June 11, 2014, at 4:19 p.m.
Last modified June 11, 2014, at 6:19 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The defense and prosecution were at odds again Wednesday on whether the state can use any medical records of a 71-year-old man accused of trying to kill his former wife more than three years ago by pushing her off Maiden Cliff in Camden.

Jury selection for the trial of Charles Black is scheduled for July 14 in Knox County Superior Court. The trial is scheduled to last two weeks.

On Wednesday, District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau was in court asking Justice Jeffrey Hjelm to clarify his ruling on the use of medical records.

Rushlau said he has reviewed the records as has Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald. There are some materials that the prosecution considers usable at trial, Rushlau said. That information includes notes from a nurse about a telephone conversation she overheard Black having with someone about his supposed memory loss. Rushlau contends those notes should not fall under the cloak of medical privacy.

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Rushlau said the court also should allow the prosecution to use observations made by Black’s doctors about his physical injuries and whether those could have caused memory loss.

Black’s defense attorney, Walter McKee, has stated that his client has no recollection of what occurred the afternoon of April 7, 2011.

McKee said that Hjelm’s earlier ruling, upheld by the Maine Supreme Court, was clear in that the medical records were privileged and should not be used at trial.

Black was indicted by a grand jury in July 2011 on charges of attempted murder, two counts of elevated aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of domestic violence assault. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

According to the prosecution, Black and his then-wife, Lisa Black, 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 in Camden and pushed her over. Black told police he had passed out and fallen forward, striking the back of his wife’s head with his head, according to the police report.

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 a hospital.

Charles Black was found injured after a subsequent search and was 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 his wife recently had inherited $4 million and had told police that 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.

Hjelm said Wednesday that he would review the prosecution’s request but said some questions concerning evidence may have to be decided at the time of the trial.

Black, who is out on bail, is living out-of-state. He and Lisa Black have divorced since the April 2011 incident.



Maiden Cliff is owned by the town of Camden and is not part of Camden Hills State Park.

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