Man charged with beating soldier-wife claims frame-up, can't get Army witnesses
Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Days before the scheduled start of his trial, a St. Paul engineer accused of assaulting his wife has alleged that the U.S. Army has not cooperated in getting his wife's supposed lover — an Army sergeant — to testify.
The wife was on leave from a tour in Iraq. Another military member is also on the defense witness list.
The attorney for Charlie Pearman Blackwell, 31, said during a Wednesday, Aug. 8, hearing in Ramsey County District Court that he has been "feverishly trying to find the military witnesses" and that he can't try the case without the sergeant.
"If Sgt. (Luther) Hall is not produced, I will be asking for a continuance," said attorney Ira Whitlock. "Sgt. Hall is absolutely crucial in what we believe is an absolute fabrication by the victim."
Whitlock said the victim and Hall may have cooked up the allegations days before the Jan. 20-21 incidents during a "rendezvous in Florida."
Blackwell, who according to his attorney has a doctorate in physics and worked at 3M, was accused in a criminal complaint of assaulting his wife after she asked for a divorce during her leave.
The complaint alleged the following:
Blackwell choked, stabbed and held his 21-year-old wife against her will at their home in the 1000 block of Hatch Avenue in the North End of St. Paul. He threatened to kill her and said she would die if she tried to leave.
The woman escaped by persuading Blackwell to let her call her sister in Texas and let her know that
everything was OK. The sister picked up clues from the conversation that she was in danger, and called police.
Whitlock said the whole story is a lie.
He asked Judge Gary Bastian to subpoena the Army witnesses. The judge agreed — but an Army official, Lt. Col. Daryl Witherspoon, told Whitlock that Bastian had no authority to order the military to do anything, Whitlock said.
An Army spokeswoman in Washington, D.C., said she would look into the matter but did not provide more information by late Wednesday.
The case became more complicated Aug. 1, when prosecutors amended the criminal complaint to include a charge of rape.
Blackwell had previously been charged with kidnapping, second-degree assault, terroristic threats and domestic assault by strangulation.
The judge has not yet signed off on the addition of the rape charge.
If he does, a law that bars evidence of a rape victim's sexual history would make the sergeant's testimony inadmissible, said prosecutor Eric Leonard. He said Wednesday that he opposed further delays in the trial.
Another pretrial hearing on the case is scheduled for Thursday.