The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has upheld the conviction of a man who was found guilty of hitting his wife on the head with a rock and pushing her off a cliff in Camden Hills State Park nearly two years ago.

Charles R. Black and his attorney, Steven Peterson, brought their appeal before the high court in October, arguing that the lower court made a mistake by not changing the trial venue from Knox County, given the amount of pretrial publicity surrounding his attack on his wife, Lisa Zahn.

The justices rejected that argument, pointing out that Black did not object to the selection of the jury that heard his case. He was found guilty in July 2014 on six counts including attempted murder and elevated aggravated assault. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison with all but 10 years suspended.

In April 2011, the couple hiked Mount Megunticook in Camden and picnicked on Maiden Cliff, a steep peak roughly 700 feet high. Court documents say Black hit her three times in the head with a rock before dragging her to the cliff’s edge and pushing her over the side.

Zahn landed on a small ledge a few feet below the peak while Black, who pursued her, fell and tumbled down the mountain “like a pinball almost” hitting trees and rocks, court documents say. Black and Zahn survived and have since divorced, but the circumstances generated media attention.

Prosecutors said Zahn inherited $4 million in 2010, which Black stood to gain by killing his wife.


Black argued that a change of venue should have been made because the pretrial publicity surrounding the case was “so overwhelming, extensively detailed and prejudicial to Black that selecting a jury would be an exercise in futility.”

The court issued an opinion upholding Black’s conviction on Jan. 14.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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