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Jurors in the murder trial of a Hampden man accused of killing his sister-in-law last year are expected to begin deliberating Monday after closing arguments and six days of testimony.
Philip Clark, 56, of Hampden has pleaded not guilty to intentional or knowing murder in the shooting death of Renee Henneberry Clark, 49, on July 11, 2018. Her body was found two days after she died in the bedroom of her apartment at 557 Kennebec Road in Hampden. Clark lived in an adjoining apartment.
Clark confessed to police that he pulled the trigger after she pushed “every frigging button she could” until he snapped and shot her 10 times.
He did not take the stand in his own defense.
The presence of his brother and the victim’s estranged husband, Frank “Chuck” Clark, 57, of Hampden, on Friday afternoon sent a wave of tension through the gallery of Courtroom 201, where the trial is being held. Frank Clark was not called as a witness and had not been in court since the trial began Nov. 15. He spoke briefly with his brother during a break, then left without incident.
The events leading up to Henneberry Clark’s death began June 15, 2018, when she took out a protection from abuse order against her husband and he moved out of the apartment they shared in Hampden.
Henneberry Clark had attempted to take out a protection from abuse order against Philp Clark, but it was denied because the law covers spouses, domestic partners and dating partners, but not a brother-in-law. However, a criminal trespass order against Philip Clark was in place when she was killed.
Philip Clark accused Henneberry Clark of taking the tools he used to work as a carpenter, but she denied taking them, according to testimony. The tools later were found in a house in Etna on Dixmont Road that Henneberry Clark rented in May 2018. The Rev. Anthony Cipolle rented a room from her there.
Cipolle, a Catholic priest who described Henneberry Clark as his “best friend,” had a fight with Philip Clark July 11, 2018, a few hours before she died. The defendant suffered broken ribs, a cut on his head, other contusions and bruises, according to testimony.
On Thursday, Cipolle admitted that he and Henneberry Clark removed Clark’s tools and other items from the Kennebec Road residence and took them to the Etna house. He described it as a residence that had been divided into two apartments.
The priest also said that he first met Henneberry Clark 15 years ago when he came to Maine for treatment for a substance use disorder and she was his counselor. The two reconnected in December 2017, a month after he was ordained, when he was assigned to the Bangor-area parish, Cipolle said.
Maine State Police Detective Thomas Pickering on Friday contradicted some of the priest’s testimony.
The detective described the Etna residence, which he visited in August 2018, as a one-family, two-story farmhouse that had not been turned into apartments. He also said that Cipolle told him he’d first met Henneberry Clark five months before her death, not 15 years ago.
Cipolle, who became emotional when cross-examined, testified Thursday that he took a voluntary leave of absence from the priesthood in December 2018 when he learned his mother had cancer. The priest remains on leave, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland confirmed earlier this week.
The defense team is expected to argue 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.