Charles Black found guilty in attempted murder trial

ROCKLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A Knox County jury took just 90 minutes to decide that Charles Reed Black was guilty of trying to kill his wife.

The highly publicized case went to the jury early Monday afternoon, and the quick verdict surprised most of those at the court. Black was found guilty of attempted murder, two counts of elevated aggravated assault and three counts of aggravated assault

Black was accused of hitting his now ex-wife Lisa Zahn in the head with a rock while the couple was hiking Camden's Maiden's Cliff in April 2011. Zahn testified she was struck from behind three times,and that Black then dragged her to the edge of the cliff and pushed her over.

Zahn said she landed on a rock ledge several feet down,which saved her life. She climbed down the mountain to escape, but somehow Black himself then fell off the cliff. Both were seriously injured.

In court Monday, the state rested its case, then Black informed the judge he would not take the stand in his own defense. Black's attorney, Walter McKee, said he would call no witnesses for the defense, and rested his case.

In closing arguments, McKee told the jury the evidence in the case provided many opportunities for reasonable doubt, and that there was not enough hard evidence to support Zahn's story.

But District Attorney Geoff Rushlau, who handled the opening and closing arguments, told the jury there was ample evidence, including Lisa Zahn's blood at the top of the cliff and on some of Black's clothing. The jury clearly agreed, and convicted Black on all six charges.

The DA says Black, who had been free on bail for three years, had his bail immediately revoked and was taken to jail to await sentencing. Black is 71 years old, and Maine law allows for a sentence of up to 30 years for attempted murder. No date has been set for his sentencing, but it typically occurs 30 to 45 days after a verdict.

Defense Attorney McKee says he does not yet know if there will be an appeal.


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