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A Hampden man accused of slaying his sister-in-law told police that she pushed “every frigging button she could” until he snapped and shot her 10 times in her bedroom July 11, 2018.
A video recording of the interview with Philip Clark conducted by Maine State Police detectives Greg Mitchell and Tucker Bonnevie was played for jurors Wednesday, the fourth day of Clark’s murder trial at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.
Clark, 56, of Hampden has pleaded not guilty to intentional or knowing murder in the death of Renee Henneberry Clark, 49. Her body was found two days after her death in the bedroom of her apartment at 557 Kennebec Road in Hampden.
During the interview recorded July 13, 2018, Clark said that he could hear his sister-in-law on the phone in an adjoining apartment laughing about how Clark had been beaten by a Cathoic priest. Clark said he retrieved his gun from his bedside table and went into Henneberry Clark’s apartment thinking he would “scare” her.
“She started laughing at me,” Clark told police. “I just flipped out. I pointed the gun at her and pulled the trigger, and she started dancing around, and I just kept pulling the trigger until she was dead. She pushed every frigging button she could until I snapped. I don’t think she knew how far she pushed me.”
Clark also said that he “felt rage” and “saw red” when he confronted her. After shooting her, he said, his anger faded, but he did not feel good about what had happened.
The events that led up to the slaying allegedly began June 15, 2018, when Henneberry Clark had Hampden police serve a temporary protection from abuse order on her husband, Frank “Chuck” Clark, 57, of Hampden. Frank Clark moved out of the apartment they shared in the former convenience store, but Henneberry Clark stayed there as she moved to rented house in Etna, according to testimony.
Philip Clark told police during the interview on July 13, 2018, at the Hampden police station that Henneberry Clark stole the tools he needed for his job as a carpenter in an effort to get back a computer she believed her husband had. She denied taking the tools, but after her death, they were found in the rented house in Etna, according to testimony.
Things came to a head the evening of July 11, 2018, when the Rev. Anthony Cipolle, a Catholic priest, was at the Kennebec Road residence with Henneberry Clark. Philip Clark told police that he asked Cipolle about getting his tools back, but when he called his sister-in-law “a bitch,” the priest punched him. After he was on the ground, Cipolle kicked him in his sides.
During the interview Clark coughed often and complained of being in pain. It was later learned that he had suffered two broken ribs along with bruises, cuts and abrasions during the fight.
Hampden police began trying to locate Henneberry Clark on July 13, 2018, after her mother, Sharon Miley of Florida, reported that she was unable to contact her daughter, according to trial testimony.
That night, detectives went to 557 Kennebec Road in an attempt to find Henneberry Clark. A few minutes after they knocked on a window to Philip Clark’s apartment, he came out and confessed to police immediately.
The prosecution is expected to rest its case Thursday at about noon. Cipolle has been subpoenaed as a witness by Clark’s attorney, but he has not been granted immunity by the Penobscot County District Attorney’s office for his alleged role in the fight or the theft of the tools.
Defense attorney Logan Perkins of Belfast said in her opening statement last week that the defendant was pushed over the edge by the beating and everything that led up to it. The defense team is expected to argue at the end of the trial that Clark is guilty of manslaughter, not murder.
Clark has been held without bail at the Penobscot County Jail since his arrest.
If convicted of murder, he faces 25 years to life in prison. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison if found guilty of manslaughter.