Ex-mistress testifies about affair
Rockland — Charles Black's former mistress testified July 17 about the affair the two carried on until April 7, 2011 — the date when Black is accused of hitting his former wife in the head and dragging her body off Maiden Cliff in an attempt to kill her.
Black, 71, of Salt Lake City, Utah, has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault and aggravated assault.
On the third day of the attempted murder trial in Knox County Superior Court, Candice Carter, of Scottsdale, Ariz. said she and Black were high school sweethearts for one year until Black went to college. They did not have contact for 50 years until Carter contacted Black via Facebook out of curiosity, she said.
The conversations at first were casual and friendly, focusing on catching up for the last 50 years, she said. At some point, the conversations become more intimate, and they met each other in Arizona and started a physical relationship.
During the affair, and about three months before the alleged attack atop Maiden Cliff, Black's former wife, Lisa Zahn, fell and injured herself. She was hospitalized for more than a week for a perforated bladder, and Black told Carter at one point, Zahn's medical condition was "touch and go."
After reviewing an email sent to her by Black during his wife's hospitalization in January 2011, Carter told the court Black had said something to the effect of, if she [Zahn] dies, it will be the easy way out. Carter said the comment was made in a joking manner, and she said Black never discussed a plan to hurt or kill his wife.
Carter testified Black texted her to tell her he was going hiking on April 7. She said she responded by telling him to have a good time and to be safe. After not hearing from Black for a few days, she located and read a media report about the couple's fall from Maiden Cliff in Camden.
The morning of July 17, Zahn, 55, of Camden reiterated her testimony from the previous day, describing how she was hit in the back of the head three times and dragged to the edge of the cliff by her former husband while she begged him not to take her from her two daughters. She said she was terrified, and remembered the sequence in snapshots. She said she attempted to bite Black in an attempt to free herself, but was unable to reach his wrist.
Defense Attorney Walt McKee said it was the first time Zahn mentioned the attempt to defend her self by biting Black. In previous interviews with police, he said she never disclosed this information. She responded that if it was not in the record previously, then it was not in the record.
McKee also highlighted a hernia surgery Black had undergone three weeks earlier, questioning whether Black was strong enough to have dragged Zahn to the lip of the cliff, and then off the cliff.
At the time of the incident, Zahn was 52 and Black was 68.
Under cross examination, McKee asked Zahn if there was arguing during the picnic lunch the couple had atop the mountain. Zahn said there was no confrontation, that they had a normal interaction during lunch, which they ate on Maiden Cliff. McKee asked whether she was still upset with Black about the affair he had, and she said she was angry, but that it takes time to work through problems like that in a marriage.
Former Maine State Police Detective Dean Jackson took the stand again, and testified about taking DNA samples of both Zahn and Black while they were recuperating at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and an interview he conducted with Black.
In three recorded interviews with Black, Black said he had no recollection of the day's events after putting two rocks he collected in his backpack. Zahn testified earlier that Black often collected rocks for decoration of their home.
Black did tell Dean he remembered tumbling down the mountain, but could not recall how he or Lisa had fallen. He also denied hitting her with a rock.
Dean asked whether Zahn would fabricate a story that he had attempted to kill her, and Black said no, that she was usually truthful. He said he did not remember anything that occurred on the mountain, but said he had no motive to kill her because her inheritance would go to her daughters. At the end of the interview, he asks Jackson about Zahn's condition.
The fourth day of the trial will resume Friday, July 18. It is unclear if Black will testify.
Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at email@example.com.
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Juliette primarily covers the cops and courts beat for The Courier-Gazette.