AUBURN — A Lisbon man convicted at trial of aggravated attempted murder of a local police officer in 2010 argued Thursday that his legal counsel was ineffective in assisting him.

Bartolo Ford took the witness stand in Androscoggin County Superior Court, something he said he’d wanted to do during the trial.

The final day of the trial, Ford told his trial lawyer, Daniel Lilley, that he wanted to testify because “I wanted them to know what I went through” while serving with the U.S. Army Reserves in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.

“He turned around and he was angry,” Ford said. “It was like his jaws were just flapping. He was kind of like spitting. He hit the table and he pointed at me. He said: What I heard was, “You’re not testifying!”

Ford said he was shocked by Lilley’s demeanor and was intimidated.

“He made it very clear to me; I wasn’t testifying,” Ford said.

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“I didn’t know I had the right to testify or the right to remain silent,” Ford said. Neither Lilley nor the defense co-counsel during trial, Darrick Banda, had told him he could testify if he wanted to, Ford said.

Lilley, a prominent criminal defense attorney from Portland, died in March.

Banda testified Thursday about his role in the case, corroborating Ford’s recollection of Lilley’s directive, recollecting more colorful language.

“‘There’s no f—ing way you’re testifying,'” Banda said he remembered Lilley telling Ford in the witness room adjacent to the courtroom.

Banda said Ford didn’t like Lilley’s response, “But, he had a way of convincing people.”

One of Ford’s attorneys on Thursday, David Bobrow, questioned Banda about whether he and Lilley considered a self-defense argument.

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Banda said it “never came up.”

On appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, Ford argued that trial judge Justice Donald Marden should have instructed the jury to consider self-defense or intoxication. The high court rejected that appeal.

Banda said Thursday that Craig Turner, who was Androscoggin County deputy district attorney and trial prosecutor, had made Ford an offer before trial to plead guilty to a felony count of aggravated criminal mischief. If Ford had agreed, he might have been able to serve his time at Androscoggin County Jail, Banda said.

A psychologist had declined to serve as a defense witness for Ford and video from dashboard cameras from Auburn Police Department cruisers were “very strong” and “would be very hard to explain” to a jury, Banda said.

He testified Thursday that he “strongly recommended” Ford take the plea offer.

Lilley had agreed that Ford should accept the offer. The two lawyers met with Ford and his wife, Diane, at Lilley’s office to discuss the matter.

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Ford said he left the office having agreed to the plea offer, believing he would be going to jail.

But the next morning, Ford received a phone call from Lilley, saying, “I hate to do this to you.”

Lilley told him: “We should fight this and take it to trial.”

Ford said Lilley told him he had reviewed evidence, including Ford’s medical records.

“It was like I’d been given hope from heaven,” Ford said.

Ford said he and his wife discussed Lilley’s proposal. She told Ford they should listen to Lilley and trust him. They believed they had hired the best criminal defense attorney in Maine.

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Banda recounted that after their meeting with Bartolo and Diane Ford to tell them he should accept Turner’s offer, Lilley had approached him with the medical records and “it seemed like he was second-guessing and questioning my judgment.”

Despite the fact they were co-counsel on the case, Banda said Lilley shared little of his trial strategy with him. Banda said he was instructed to make the opening statement and handle a couple of minor witnesses.

Banda said Thursday he didn’t want to give the opening statement, believing Lilley should have done it.

“It was really going to be his show,” Banda said.

Assistant District Attorney Patricia Reynolds Regan read into the court record files from Lilley’s office from the case to show what information Lilley would have had at the time of trial preparation in an effort to explain the legal decisions he made on behalf of his client. She cross-examined Ford’s witnesses Thursday.

Diane Ford, who had hired Lilley on her husband’s behalf, said that every time she tried to talk to the lawyer about the trial, he dismissed her, repeating the word “No.”

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Bartolo Ford said Thursday he also wanted to testify at trial that he had a receipt for the cement well tile he was charged with stealing.

“I’m not a thief,” he said. “I didn’t steal anything.”

Ford said he wanted the jury to know that he was a “kind, gentle, compassionate man” to counter police testimony that presented his actions in a different light. He believed the jury wouldn’t have given up on him had he done so, he said.

Ford was sentenced to serve nine years in prison for trying to kill a local police officer by ramming his car with a dump truck during a high-speed chase two years before his trial.

He was sentenced to 20 years in prison with all but nine years suspended, plus six years of probation.

Ford also was sentenced on six other counts related to 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.

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Ford had faced up to life in prison, but Justice Marden said the crime did not warrant the harshest sentence. He said he considered mitigating factors, including Ford’s military service, his diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and the positive role he’d had in the community before the incident.

The high-speed chase began Sept. 15, 2008, when Ford 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 at a bridge on Hotel Road, one of the cylinders fell off and shattered in the road, puncturing the tire of the cruiser driven by officer David Madore and disabling the car.

A second officer, Cpl. Kristopher Bouchard, took up the chase. Ford stopped for Bouchard, then rammed his cruiser twice, disabling it. Bouchard fired four shots through the door of the truck, hitting Ford in the hip.

Officer Matthew Johnson then took up the chase. He caught up to Ford in Poland, at the entrance to the Poland Spring bottling plant. Ford stopped, then rammed Johnson’s cruiser head-on after turning his truck around.

Video footage from Johnson’s dashboard camera was played for the jury during Ford’s August trial. On the tape, Johnson was heard shouting, “He’s trying to kill me!”

At the intersection of Routes 26 and 121, Auburn Deputy Chief Jason Moen took up the chase in an unmarked cruiser. When Moen switched on his flashing blue lights, Ford stopped, then chased Moen’s car and fled to a dead-end road. Ford abandoned his truck in a stream and fled on foot into the woods. He later surrendered to a Maine State Police trooper on Route 26.

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Ford said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and at the time of the chase was having a flashback to his tour in Iraq. He said his condition was aggravated by a recent change in his prescription medication and by the sleep drug Ambien, which he had taken that night. Ford said he had no memory of the chase except for bits and pieces.

The post-conviction hearing is expected to continue Friday.

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Bartolo Ford appears in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn Thursday during a hearing for a new trial. At right is his attorney, Jamesa Drake.


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