Man accused of shooting at officers expected to use "Ambien" defense

Published: Feb. 22, 2016 at 7:22 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 23, 2016 at 6:22 PM EDT
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CORNELIUS, NC (WBTV) - Jury selection is slated to start Monday afternoon in the trial of a Cornelius man accused of shooting at four police officers in 2014 with two young children present.

Charles McKinley Saine is charged with four counts of shooting at the officers and assault on a female. Other charges were dismissed, including one relating to an assault with a deadly weapon against his wife and resisting arrest.

Saine's defense attorneys Michael Greene and Dan Roberts said their client will use what's called an automatism defense, which means someone lacks culpability because he or she is unconscious or not aware of their actions.

Greene said Saine used the sleep drug Ambien, which led to his altered state. At least one of his doctors is expected to testify. Saine is expected to testify too, according to his attorneys.

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Resident Superior Court Judge Lisa Bell said it's possible she will allow the jury to view the crime scene, at the request of the defense. Assistant District Attorneys Ellie Coludro and Jonathan Wilson argued the jury view was unnecessary because of existing photographs, diagrams and video.

The incident took place at Saine's home in Cornelius with his wife and two young children present. In court, his attorney said Saine and his family still live there. Saine's wife is expected to testify for the defense.

State prosecutors also fought a defense motion to dismiss the assault on a female charge based on a typographical error in jail paperwork. Roberts argued Saine was held without bond longer than the law allows on the domestic violence assault charge.

Judge Bell said Saine was never deprived of his liberty because he would have stayed in jail longer based on the felony charges and no one had tried to get him released on bond earlier.

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