Father of murderer to avoid charge for hiding body

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PORTLAND (AP) – A father who helped his son hide the body of a man who had been killed but later told police where to find the victim won’t be charged with any crime.

Vincent Clark made a serious error in judgment in February 2006 when he helped his son, Steven Clark, bury Robert Wagner’s body in a shallow grave on his property in West Baldwin, Maine Deputy Attorney General William Stokes said Monday.

A few days after helping his son, Vincent Clark met with police, told them what had happened and led them to Wagner’s body.

Stokes said the decision to not file charges came down to the value of Clark’s cooperation and the chilling effect that prosecuting him might have on other people who have useful information in crimes.

“There is a side of me that says he should be prosecuted and another side that says he was caught in a situation where he made … a bad judgment and had to recognize that,” Stokes said. “Really, our focus has to be on solving the murder.”

Steven Clark, 29, is serving a 43-year prison sentence for the fatal shooting of Wagner after a night out of heavy drinking and drug use. A Cumberland County Superior Court jury in January found Clark guilty of murder.

After the shooting, Steven Clark told his father he couldn’t tell police the truth because he had shot Wagner by accident. Vincent Clark helped move the body only after his son said he would kill himself if the father didn’t help him.

Vincent Clark’s attorney, Clifford Strike, said prosecutors made the right choice to not prosecute.

“I’m very glad to hear that the Attorney General’s Office has recognized that Mr. Clark did what he needed to do when he came to his senses and went to the police,” Strike said.

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