Black case set for July docket call

Case of man accused of pushing wife off Maiden Cliff back in Knox County
By Juliette Laaka | May 19, 2014
Photo by: File photo Charles Black.

Rockland — The case of a man accused of maliciously pushing his then-wife off Maiden Cliff three years ago is scheduled for a July docket call in Knox County Superior Court.

Charles R. Black, formerly of Camden and now of Utah, faces charges including attempted murder. Black filed an appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court arguing the state did not follow the proper procedure in obtaining his medical records from Eastern Maine Medical Center. The appeal came after Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm denied his motion to suppress his medical records.

In March 2014, a motion to amend bail conditions filed by Black's counsel was granted allowing Black to reside in Utah. He was ordered to give up his passport, according to court papers.

Last month, the Maine Supreme Court rejected the defendant's appeal to include his medical records at trial.

Black and his former wife divorced in September 2012.

Black's attorney, Walter McKee of Augusta, filed the appeal in November 2012, contesting a ruling that denied the defendant's right to suppress his medical history. Black was hospitalized and more than 500 pages of medical records were seized in a search warrant, which is the basis for the appeal.

In its April 8 decision, the Maine Supreme Court noted Black has not yet stood trial or been convicted of the charges against him. The court ruled that the trial should not be stalled to deal with a premature appeal, which could raise concerns about rights to a speedy trial and double jeopardy.

If Black is convicted and his medical records were used against him, he will have an opportunity to file an appeal at that time, the court ruled.

Black was initially charged with aggravated assault and is accused of striking his wife in the head with a rock, dragging her body to the edge of Maiden Cliff and pushing her over while the two were hiking in Camden Hills State Park, according to court documents. In July 2011, he was indicted by the grand jury for six criminal offenses, including attempted murder, arising from the alleged incident.

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

Black's former wife was injured, but managed to climb down the mountain to get help and was hospitalized for several days. 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.

In an affidavit filed in court by police, the wife 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.

McKee argued in Knox County Superior Court the prosecution obtained the medical records of his client illegally. Knox County Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm denied McKee's motion to dismiss and to suppress Black's criminal charges.

In March 2012, the prosecution sought and obtained a search warrant for all medical records from the week-long hospitalization of the defendant at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, 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.

McKee then moved to dismiss the pending charges, or alternatively, to suppress that evidence owing to the state’s acquisition of the medical records. He contended the state obtained the protected records through an improper procedure and the warrant application did not support probable cause.

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