Pretrial Loss for Accused Mountainside Attacker

     (CN) – A man accused of throwing his heiress wife off a cliff before taking a fall himself cannot bar the admission of medical records in his criminal case, the Maine Supreme Court ruled.
     Prosecutors say Charles Black hit his wife Lisa in the head three times while they were hiking on April 7, 2011, on Megunticook Mountian.
     He allegedly dragged her to the edge of a cliff and threw her off, but Lisa survived, made her way to the road, and reported that her husband was trying to kill her.
     Charles meanwhile allegedly fell from a cliff shortly thereafter and spent a week in the hospital. He faces charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and domestic violence.
     In its affidavit for Charles Black’s medical records, Maine law enforcement submitted allegations that the mountain assault was the third time Charles had tried to kill Lisa, who had recently inherited $4 million.
     Lisa also told police that Charles had already taken some of her money without permission.
     Claiming that the search warrant was illegal, Charles moved for the dismissal of all charges. He also moved for his medical records to be suppressed at trial.
     A judge in Knox County denied both motions but found that the medical records may be privileged. To that extent, “the state may not present evidence that it obtained directly or indirectly from those records,” Judge Jeffrey Hjelm said.
     The Maine Supreme Court dismissed an appeal on April 8 as interlocutory.
     “We conclude that Black would lose no substantial rights by awaiting final judgment in this case, and thus, he asserts no basis for interlocutory review,” Chief Justice Leigh Ingalls Saufley wrote.
     The ruling also emphasizes that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not protect the confidentiality of medical records if they were obtained by a warrant.
     “Thus, the prosecution’s access to Black’s medical records does not violate HIPAA’s confidentiality provisions merely because the state obtained his medical filed pursuant to a warrant rather than a subpoena,” Saufley wrote.

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