BANGOR – It’s a name that has come up again and again in the Philip Clark trial and Thursday, the defense called Father Anthony Cipolle, the victim’s spiritual counsel, to the stand.
The prosecution rested its case Thursday in the Philip Clark trial. The man is on trial for the shooting death of his sister-in-law Renee Clark in Hampden in July of 2018.
Hours before Renee was killed, the Catholic priest and her brother-in-law, Philip Clark, got into a physical confrontation. This was at the Hampden residence both Renee and Philip had apartments at.
Father Cipolle testified in court that Philip smelled like alcohol and was worked up about missing tools Philip needed for work, saying, “Philip had worked himself up … to a point where he had this look in his eyes like he was going to kill me.”
The priest said he was defending himself and that he regrets the fight.
He also testified he was renting an apartment from Renee at a house she also stayed at in Etna. He said he would stay in Etna around once in a week.
He said he and Renee had taken tools from the Hampden house to the Etna location, but that he wasn’t aware they were Philip’s.
Philip’s defense has said events leading up to Renee’s death led him to act irrationally.
“They’ve taken his tools, he just got beat to a pulp and they’re getting away with it. Cipolle got to leave free and clear, no charge,” said Logan Perkins, a defense attorney for Philip, at Friday’s opening statements.
Cipolle, now on a leave of absence, testified Renee had a paralyzing fear of Philip and her estranged husband.
The prosecution has been clear.
“A conflict caused by complicated relationships, cannot be resolved by killing another person,” said Lisa Bogue, the assistant attorney general, at Friday’s opening statements.
Cipolle testified for hours and got emotional on the stand. He said he first met Renee more than a decade ago, before he was a priest, through her line of work.
He repeatedly called Renee his best friend and said he told a detective shortly after her death, “you maybe get three friends that good in your whole life”. He denied any romantic involvement.
Cipolle was a priest in Bangor, but said he took a leave of absence in December of 2018 when he learned his mother had cancer.
The defense will continue its case on Friday.