AUBURN — A Lisbon man convicted of trying to murder local police in a 2008 high-speed chase lost his bid for a new trial when a judge denied his petition to overturn all but one of his convictions on related criminal charges at his 2010 trial.
Bartolo Ford, 57, was convicted by a jury of aggravated attempted murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison with all but nine years suspended, plus six years of probation. He also was sentenced on six other counts stemming from the chase, including aggravated criminal mischief, reckless conduct, eluding an officer and theft by unauthorized taking. He was sentenced to between six months and two years in jail for each of those crimes, all to be served concurrently with the longer prison sentence.
Justice Donald Marden, who listened to testimony during two days of hearings last summer in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn, vacated Ford’s theft conviction and ordered a not guilty verdict be entered in its place. All six of the remaining convictions were upheld by Marden in his February order.
“The court concludes,” Marden wrote, “that except for the defense on the theft charge, Mr. Ford received effective assistance of counsel in the defense of his criminal charges. Any deficiencies in counsel’s performance did not so prejudice Ford’s defense as to deprive him of a fair trial which result was reliable.”
In his petition, Ford said his trial attorney, Daniel Lilley (who later died), had been ineffective in his assistance because he refused to let him testify in his defense; coerced him into rejecting a proposed plea agreement; failed to file a notice of appeal when Ford asked him to; and failed to fully investigate proposed evidence and expert witnesses. Later, Ford added that Lilley had failed to request at trial an imperfect self-defense instruction by the judge to the jury.
Lilley died last year.
Ford’s high-speed chase with local police began on the night of Sept. 15, 2008, when he was spotted taking two concrete cylinders from a company on Minot Avenue. When confronted by a police officer, Ford fled in a dump truck. When the truck hit a bump, one of the cylinders fell off and shattered in the road, puncturing the tire of a local police cruiser.
When a second officer took up the chase, Ford rammed that cruiser twice, disabling it. That officer fired four shots through the door of the truck, hitting Ford in the hip. A third officer caught up to Ford in Poland. Ford stopped, then rammed that officer’s cruiser head-on after turning the truck around.
Ford eventually fled into woods after abandoning the truck in a stream, later surrendering to a Maine State Police trooper.
Bartolo Ford listens to testimony in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn during a 2017 hearing on his petition for a new trial. (Sun Journal file photo)