Former SM East teacher Charles Reed Black sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempted murder of his wife

Former SM East teacher Charles Reed Black, 71, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempting to kill his wife by pushing her off a cliff in Maine more than three years ago. The full sentence was 25 years, with all but 10 years suspended. Black will be on probation for six years.

Charles Reed Black
Charles Reed Black

The district attorney had asked for a sentence of 27 to 29 years with all but 15 years suspended. Black’s ex-wife, Lisa Zahn, survived the attack on Maiden Cliff in Camden, Maine. Zahn said that she and Black had gone to the spot for a picnic in April 2011 and were attempting to reconcile their marriage. She felt three blows to the back of the head and then Black threw her off the cliff.

Zahn landed on a ledge on the cliff and managed to climb down. Black also fell from the cliff and was injured. Black was convicted after a jury trial in July.

During the trial, evidence was introduced that Black was having an affair with a former high school girlfriend. In 2010 they had reconnected after not seeing each other for 50 years. Another factor was Zahn’s inheritance of $4 million from her father and the allegations that Black had been spending some of the money without her knowledge. The sentencing and summary of the case is laid out in a story from the Bangor Daily News. 

According to the report, several letters of support were introduced asking for leniency in Black’s sentence. Zahn and Black had met when they lived in Kansas and married in 2004. She had taught in the Olathe School District. An earlier BDN story details the trial testimony and background of the case.