December 03, 2019
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‘Don’t mistake this collar for weakness,’ priest told Hampden murder suspect before fight

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Philip Clark, 56, of Hampden has pleaded not guilty to intentional or knowing murder in the death of Renee Henneberry Clark, 49, in July 2018. Defense attorneys Logan Perkins (left) and David Bate.

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.

Shortly before a Bangor-area priest allegedly assaulted Philip Clark he told him: “Don’t mistake this collar for weakness,” according to testimony Monday.

Hours after the July 11, 2018, fight between Clark and the priest, the Rev. Anthony Cipolle, Clark allegedly killed his sister-in-law, Renee Henneberry Clark.

Philip Clark, 56, of Hampden has pleaded not guilty to intentional or knowing murder in the death of Henneberry Clark, 49. When confronted by police, Clark confessed to the slaying, attorneys for the defense and the prosecution said Friday.

Video and audio recordings from a Hampden police cruiser and an officer’s body microphone were played Monday afternoon on the second day of Clark’s murder trial in Bangor. Clark called police on July 11, 2018, at about 7:30 p.m. to report that Cipolle had beaten him up outside Clark’s apartment, William Miller, an investigator with the Hampden police, testified.

Two hours later, Clark allegedly shot Henneberry Clark 10 times. Police found her bullet-riddled body two days later in her apartment at 557 Kennebec Road. Clark lived in an adjoining apartment in the building that once housed a convenience store.

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
A picture of Renee Henneberry Clark was shown on a screen during opening statements at the Penobscot Judicial Center on Friday morning.

Clark, who refused medical treatment after the fight, denied starting it. Cipolle said he was defending himself. The priest at first said he would write out a statement about the incident but later refused to talk with police without a lawyer. He told Miller that he had ripped up the complaint he initially agreed to fill out, but police later found the blank statement on the back of Henneberry Clark’s car.

Cipolle became more agitated as police interviewed him, Clark and the victim. Eventually, he drove away.

Hennebery Clark, who was outside with Cipolle, her brother-in-law and police following the confrontation, told Miller that she would not be spending the night at 557 Kennebec Road and drove away when the police officer did.

Police found her body two days later, on July 13, 2018. Clark was charged about two weeks later.

Other Hampden officers testified Monday about some of the events that led up to her death. That included two interactions with police June 15, 2018, when Officer David Mushrall served a temporary protection from abuse order on Frank “Chuck” Clark, 57, of Hampden, Henneberry Clark’s husband. In her application for the order, she alleged he had assaulted and tried to strangle her.

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Defense attorney Logan Perkins of Belfast holds up a photo and drawing of the apartments during opening statements in the trial of Philip Clark who has pleaded not guilty to intentional or knowing murder in the death of his sister-in-law, Renee Henneberry Clark, 49, in July 2018.

After serving the order, Mushrall allowed Frank Clark to collect a few belongings before he left until a hearing could be held to determine if a permanent protection order would be granted. Conditions of the temporary order included Frank Clark having no direct or indirect contact with Henneberry Clark and not being at 557 Kennebec Road.

Later that day, police returned around noon after Philip Clark called police to report a burglary. He showed officers a door that appeared to have been kicked in and said that the tools he needed to work as a carpenter were missing. Clark accused his sister-in-law of taking them.

Henneberry Clark, who was in her apartment with Cipolle when police arrived, told officers that Clark had been warned to stay out of her apartment but came in with an officer during the burglary investigation. Police issued Clark a criminal trespass summons with a court date of July 12, 2018, and told him it was up to a judge to decide if he actually violated the law because he was accompanied by an officer.

Events leading up to the shooting on July 11, 2018, began at about 7 p.m when Henneberry Clark went to the Hampden police station to report that her estranged husband had violated the protection from abuse order by calling her, according to testimony. Less than an hour later, she called police to say that her estranged husband was at the 557 Kennebec Road property, along with his brother, Philip Clark. Frank Clark was gone when police arrived.

A few minutes after that, Philip Clark called police to report that he had been assaulted by the priest.

Miller said that when he arrived, he observed blood on Clark’s face and a cut on top of the right side of his head. There were also abrasions on his knees and elbows and a cut above Clark’s right ear.

Cipolle’s knuckles were bloody, but the priest was not injured, Miller testified.

Clark told police that his brother dropped him off on the side of the road and left, but did not come onto the property. Clark told police he believed Cipolle knew where his tools were because the priest was with Henneberry Clark the day they disappeared.

“I asked him where my tools were, and he just started beating the hell out of me,” Clark said of how the fight began. “I never swung at him. I never did anything. He frigging started beating on me.”

Once he was on the ground, Clark said, the priest kicked him in his side.

The priest admitted in the police recording to hitting Clark and telling him: “Don’t mistake this collar for weakness.”

“He spit at me. I spit at him. He pushed me. He smacked me, and I pretty much controlled it from there,” Cipolle said.

Twice Miller asked the priest if he wanted to press charges, but Cipolle did not reply directly.

“I want to be sure that she’s safe,” he told Miller of Henneberry Clark. “She’s not safe with him here. She is scared for her life.”

The video and audio recordings showed the priest becoming more and more agitated until Miller told him, “You need to take a step back and chill out here.”

Miller said he allowed Cipolle to leave at that point because he was so upset and uncooperative.

Henneberry Clark left when Miller did and told him she would not be spending the night at 557 Kennebec Road. When the officer called her about 9:20 p.m that same night, Hennebery Clark said she was going back to the property to deal with a car problem.

Hampden police began trying to locate her July 13, 2018, after her mother, Sharon Miley of Florida, reported that she was unable to contact her daughter, according to the police affidavit filed in support of Clark’s arrest.

That night, detectives went to 557 Kennebec Road in an attempt to locate Henneberry Clark, the affidavit said. A few minutes after they knocked on a window to Philip Clark’s apartment, he came out and confessed to police.

The trial is expected to end late this week or early next week.

The defense said Friday that the defendant was pushed over the edge by the beating and everything that led up to it. They are expected to argue at the end of the trial that Clark is guilty of manslaughter, not murder.

Hampden officers are expected to continue testifying Tuesday.

Clark has been held without bail at the Penobscot County Jail since his arrest.

If convicted, he faces 25 years to life in prison.

 



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