Jury acquits man who used Ambien defense in attack on wife, police

March 04, 2016 6:19 PM

A Mecklenburg County jury acquitted a Cornelius man on Friday of striking his wife and firing shots at police after his attorneys argued that he had a bad reaction to Ambien.

Charlie Saine had been accused of four counts of assault with a deadly weapon against a government official and assault on a female. But his lawyers told the jurors that Saine was under the influence of the prescription sleep aid and did not know what he was doing.

He just took Ambien and sometimes it screws his head up.

Charles Saine’s wife during 911 call in 2014

Assistant District Attorney Ellie Coludro said Saine’s wife called 911 in January 2014 after Saine had three or four hard-liquor drinks, abused Ambien then struck her in the head and stomach, according to WBTV, the Observer’s news partner.

When Cornelius police arrived, they heard multiple shots.

Defense attorneys argued that their client, an Army veteran, never intended to shoot at police. They said the bullets were found in a couch, bath tub and the top of the garage.

“We don’t believe that any physical evidence suggested that these officers were being fired upon,” attorney Michael Greene said after the verdict. “There is a distinct difference between a gun firing and someone firing a gun at you.”

Ambien’s side effects can include delusions, paranoia and dementia. It can also create strange cravings for food.

Greene and co-counsel Dan Roberts told the jury that after firing his gun, Saine got back in bed, naked, with a package of raw bacon and a biscuit.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS

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