AUBURN — A Lisbon man’s new trial on a charge of aggravated attempted murder of Auburn police is expected to be held in Waldo County, a judge has decided.

Bartolo Ford listens to testimony in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn during a 2017 hearing on his petition for a new trial. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy, who was specially assigned to preside over the retrial of 58-year-old Bartolo Ford, ruled that the case should be moved from Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn.

Waldo County Superior Courthouse is in Belfast.

Ford was convicted in the Auburn court in 2010 of aggravated attempted murder, a Class A crime, in addition to six other counts, including aggravated criminal mischief, reckless conduct, eluding an officer and theft by unauthorized taking stemming from a 2008 high-speed chase with Auburn police. In 2017, a judge dismissed the theft charge, after Ford filed a petition for post-conviction review.

After his conviction, Ford was sentenced to 20 years in prison with all but nine years suspended, plus six years of probation.

In July, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court vacated his convictions, granting him a new trial. The high court ruled that his trial attorney, Daniel Lilley, had been ineffective because he hadn’t allowed Ford to testify at trial.

Since the court granted Ford a new trial, he remains free on bail.

The new trial is likely to be held during late winter or early spring of 2020.

Defense attorney David Bobrow of Eliot said Tuesday: “At this point in time, it’s premature to make any comment except to say that Mr. Ford is looking forward to the opportunity to present his version.”

Lilley had argued that on the night of the chase, the defendant had suffered an episode of post-traumatic stress disorder from the time he served in the Persian Gulf War.

Lilley died two years ago.

In arguing for Ford in February before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, Bobrow said Lilley hadn’t given his client the option of testifying at trial and hadn’t prepared him for that possibility.

“At a certain point in the trial, Mr. Ford expressed his desire to testify and was told, unequivocally, by lead counsel in this matter, ‘There was no f***ing way you’re testifying,’” Bobrow had said. “The fact that Mr. Ford was not given his right to testify in a matter where the only issue before the jury was his actual — his mind — not what others believed what was going on in his mind, but his mind, is simply breathtaking.”

The high court apparently agreed.

Ford’s high-speed chase with local police began the night of Sept. 15, 2008, when he was spotted taking two well tiles, or 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.


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