Jurors selected in Black case, trial to begin July 15

By Juliette Laaka | Jul 14, 2014
Charles R. Black.

Rockland — Thirteen women and two men were selected for a jury panel July 14 in the case of a former Camden man accused of attempting to kill his now ex-wife by striking her in the head with a rock and pushing her off Maiden Cliff in 2011.

Charles Reed Black, 71, now living in Utah, was present at Knox County Superior Court with his attorney Walt McKee of Augusta while a pool of Knox County residents was questioned whether they knew about the case previously, and if they could be impartial in the case. Potential jurors were also asked if they knew individuals on the witness list and if they had contact with Black as he sat outside of the courtroom browsing on a computer.

After jurors were chosen, they were instructed not to speak with people involved in the case, not to read or watch media coverage of the trial, and not to hike on Maiden Cliff.

Three of the jurors will serve as alternates.

The victim in the case is expected to testify. Black and his former wife divorced in 2012.

Black has denied the charges against him and told police he passed out and hit her head with his when he fell, according to the police affidavit.

Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald is asking evidence to be allowed at the trial pertaining to allegations the defendant attempted to poison his ex-wife before the hiking incident.

Fernald filed a motion July 7 in Knox Court Superior Court to allow a witness from Missouri to testify she overheard Black and another woman state that if they had gotten the dosage right, Black would not be in the trouble he is now. The pair was talking about injecting a wine cork with Valium and then serving the wine to Black's former wife. This conversation occurred in August 2012, according to the motion.

The victim is expected to testify Black attempted to poison her on several occasions prior to the April 2011 incident on Maiden Cliff, one of these times includes the woman the witness overheard speaking with Black about drug dosages. The woman was staying with the Blacks before the couple went on a trip abroad, said the motion.

In an affidavit filed in court by police, the victim said there were several other incidents involving her husband that made her feel as if he had been trying to kill her. According to the affidavit, a couple of weeks prior to the Maiden Cliff incident, Black climbed a ladder to the attic and, while she was at the bottom of the ladder, he fell down on top of her. Black told his wife he passed out, according to the court documents.

She also told a detective she inherited $4 million when her father died, and Black had been taking her money without her permission, according to the affidavit. She also told the detective her husband contacted an old girlfriend in Arizona and the two had been having an online affair. Police were also told the two had been having marital problems and had been to counseling.

Black will not be allowed to stay in Camden during his two-week trial. A motion to amend his bail to allow him to stay in Camden with a friend was denied June 24 by Justice Jeffrey Hjelm in Knox County Superior Court.

The victim lives in Camden, and Black's bail conditions bar him from being in Camden.

Black was initially charged with aggravated assault, but in July 2011, he was indicted by the grand jury for six criminal offenses, including attempted murder, arising from the alleged incident. The initial aggravated assault charge against her husband came after she filed for a protection from abuse order against Black in which she claimed he tried to kill her.

Justice Joyce Wheeler is presiding over the case.

Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at jlaaka@villagesoup.com.

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Juliette Laaka
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Juliette primarily covers the cops and courts beat for The Courier-Gazette.

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