Prominent Maine defense attorney Daniel Lilley died Saturday evening, according to friends close to him and his family.
“He was a brilliant trial lawyer. It’s a huge loss to the trial community of Maine,” Stephen Schwartz, a Portland criminal defense attorney, told the Portland Press Herald on Sunday evening.
During Schwartz’s his 28-year career as a defense attorney, he said he worked on several cases with Lilley. He called him a “maverick” courtroom lawyer who defended his clients with great passion and, if necessary, dramatic presentations.
“He was really a champion of the accused,” said Schwartz, who founded the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in 1992. Lilley was one of the organization’s original board members. “I think everyone in the court system respected him for his abilities.”
Schwartz said Lilley became the go-to lawyer in high-profile cases that on the surface seemed impossible to win.
Lilley, originally from Houlton, was known for his work in several prominent cases in Maine, WCSH-TV reported. In 1985, he defended Tony DiMillo of DiMillo’s Restaurant and Lounge, who was acquitted of tax evasion.
In 1990, Jackie Bevins of Ogunquit was charged with murder after allegedly shooting her husband 15 times, and reloading her gun in the process. Lilley used a “battered wife syndrome” defense, and Bevins was acquitted.
In 2012, Lilley made headlines by defending Mark Strong, the alleged “business partner” of Alexis Wright. Wright was accused of operating a prostitution business out of her Zumba studio in Kennebunk.
Several who knew him say that Lilley’s role defending alleged criminals made him a polarizing figure. But criminal defense attorney F. Lee Bailey, known for his work on O.J. Simpson’s defense team, told the Portland TV station that Lilley was a colleague, a good friend, and had a “heart of gold.”
This story will be updated.