$500,000 bail for man accused of killing wife last September

Chesley Black Jr., accused of killing his wife, is escorted from a squad car by sheriff’s deputies into the Charleton County Judicial Center for his preliminary hearing in October 2011.

A judge today set bail at $500,000 for a man accused of killing his wife last September in Charleston.

Chesley Black Jr., 30, is accused of stabbing his wife, 25-year-old Amanda Kalman Black, in their West Ashley home, putting her in a bathroom and spending the night in the house with their two young girls,

Kalman Black’s relatives and friends packed a Charleston County courtroom this morning, hoping that Circuit Judge Markley Dennis would deny Black’s request for bail and keep him in jail. He has been locked up since his arrest.

Assistant Solicitor Chad Simpson told the judge that Black has ties to people in Washington, Hawaii, Costa Rica and Georgia. He is also due a $3,200 tax refund which would give him funds to leave the state, he said.

Kalman Black’s uncle, Don Gresh, who has temporary custody of the couple’s two girls, said the oldest daughter, 4-year-old Audri, remains fearful that her father will come after her and her sister, Khloe, 2. He said his family may have to go into hiding if Black is released.

“Anyone capable of performing an act of violence that horrible is capable of doing anything,” he said.

Megan Ehrlich, Black’s public defender, said her client is a former landscaper and a man of modest means, with no plans to leave the area. Friends from church plan to help him find a place to stay while awaiting trial, she said.

Ehrlich said there is evidence that Black acted in self-defense and that Kalman Black first charged at him with the knife that night. Prosecutors, however, said the evidence does not support a self-defense claim.

Dennis said those arguments were for another day. His duty was to weigh Black’s potential to be a flight risk and a danger to the community. Dennis also reminded the crowd that Black has not been convicted of a crime and that state law requires that he be given a chance to seek bond.

If Black posts the $500,000 bond, he will be under house arrest, subject to electronic monitoring, barred from contact with his children and prevented from going within 10 miles of Gresh’s home.

The case began Sept. 9, when investigators went to the Blacks’ West Ashley home in response to a 911 call from a relative in St. George. Kalman Black’s sister called authorities after Audri told her, “Daddy killed Mommy.”

Inside, investigators found Kalman Black dead on the downstairs bathroom floor, a knife near her body. Officials located Black in Sumter about midnight.

When detectives interviewed him, Black said he and his wife had gotten into an argument over money on Sept. 8, that he stabbed her and that he put her body in the bathroom to keep their children away, authorities said.

The next day, he dropped off Audri at his sister-in-law’s home and Khloe at his mother’s home before he was arrested.

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.