Justice Hjelm denies Black's motion to exclude medical evidence
Rockland — A superior court justice has denied a motion by the lawyer representing Charles R. Black, 69, to dismiss and to suppress his criminal charges.
Attorney Walter McKee of Augusta argued the prosecution obtained the medical records illegally of his client.
Justice Jeffrey Hjelm on Oct. 24 issued a ruling in Knox County Superior Court on the defendant’s motion to exclude any evidence from Black’s medical files related to his alleged criminal episode.
While he has denied the defendant’s motion, Hjelm has also put restrictions on the case.
The court has scheduled a trial for Black, with jury selection beginning Dec. 3. The trial is expected to take more than one week, according to the court clerk’s office.
On April 15, 2011, Black was charged with aggravated assault against his wife. In July 2011, he was indicted by the grand jury for six criminal offenses, including attempted murder, arising from the alleged incident, Hjelm wrote.
According to court records, Black and his former wife were hiking in Camden Hills State Park. He allegedly struck her in the head with a rock, dragged her body to the edge of Maiden Cliff and pushed her over.
Black told police he had passed out and hit her head with his when he fell, according to the police affidavit.
She fell a few feet, got up and made her way down the mountain. She was seen by a passing motorist and taken to the hospital, according to the police report.
Meanwhile, Black was found and taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. He was arrested a few days after his release.
According to police records, Black's wife had inherited $4 million and said her husband was taking money without her permission. She also said he was having an affair online with a former girlfriend.
On March 18, 2012, prosecution sought and obtained a search warrant for all medical records from the week-long hospitalization of the defendant at EMMC, when he was treated for injuries he reportedly sustained during the episode, Hjelm wrote.
The state obtained the records and produced copies for the defense as discovery.
Black’s attorney moved to dismiss the pending charges, or alternatively, to suppress that evidence owing to the state’s acquisition of the medical records.
McKee contended that the state obtained the protected records through an improper procedure and that the warrant application did not support probable cause.
For the restriction pertaining to his review, Hjelm pointed out that during the hearing in September the prosecutor said the only person in his office who may have reviewed the records is a prosecutorial assistant. None of the prosecutors have read the medical records, Hjelm was told.
“If and when the prosecutor in the case reads the medical records, then the injury alleged by the defendant will result and cannot be reversed,” Hjelm wrote.
Hjelm ordered that the prosecution is to refrain from reading the medical evidence for 10 days from the date of the order, Oct. 24.
If the defendant files an appeal within 10 days of the date of the order, then the order will be stayed pending the appeal and the prosecution shall continue to refrain from reviewing the records until further order of the court, Hjelm wrote.
Courier Publications reporter George Chappell can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401, ext. 117, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.