On the fifth day of trial, prosecutors homed in on phone records that they say place a man charged with murder in the neighborhood of the crime at the time it happened.

Police say Aristotle Stilley, 27, shot six rounds into an apartment on Gilman Street in Portland on March 15, 2016, killing 36-year-old David Anderson and wounding 21-year-old Abdirahman Abdullahi. Stilley was arrested more than four years later and pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and aggravated assault.

Aristotle Stilley enters the courtroom in Cumberland County Superior Court last week on the first day of his murder trial. Stilley is accused of killing David Anderson in Portland in 2016. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

In a case where the state has little physical evidence directly tying Stilley to the crime, the phone records presented to the Cumberland County jury on Tuesday are crucial. They document Stilley’s journey that night – or, at least his phone’s journey – from his home in Saco to a neighborhood near Maine Medical Center, close to Gilman Street.

Naja Lake, who was in a relationship with Stilley at the time, has testified that she drove Stilley and their young daughter to Portland that night to drop him off at the hospital, and then to Forest Street, where he got out and she waited for him to return.

But Lake’s story of that night has changed several times over the last eight years. Last week, she recanted some of her earlier statements that implied Stilley used a handgun she kept in her car in the Gilman Street shooting.

Despite objections from the defense, Detective Lenny Bolton, who worked for Maine State Police at the time, presented phone records obtained from AT&T through a search warrant, which prosecutors say tie Stilley to the shooting.


Lake and Stilley shared a phone, according to police. The number Bolton mentioned Tuesday is the one that prosecutors confirmed last week was used by Lake.

As Bolton described how cellphone towers work and what can be gleaned from their data, he used several metaphors and even drew the jury illustrations, using a large white notepad and a marker.

David Anderson Photo courtesy of Anderson family

He said the data is “extremely reliable” and “one of the technologies we use the most in law enforcement.”

Stilley’s attorneys disagreed.

His lawyer, Stephen Shea, said the locations Bolton highlighted were “estimates, approximations.” The cellphone towers that tracked Stilley’s phone that night covered densely populated areas, including many businesses. No witnesses at those businesses, nor any surveillance footage, captured Stilley in their area or leaving the apartment.

And the records police received from AT&T, Shea said, tell investigators to “exercise caution” when referring to the data because it’s “less than exact.”


Bolton said police tracked the phone to a tower near exit 36 in Saco around 9 p.m.

By 9:30 p.m., Bolton said, the phone was connected to a tower near the University of Southern Maine’s Portland campus that also covers the neighborhood around Maine Medical Center, which the detective said included 88 Gilman St.

The phone stayed in Portland until about 11:21 p.m., Bolton said. It was back in the Saco area using towers there about an hour later.

Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy allowed Bolton to present the evidence, despite accusations raised by Shea that another officer who helped review the data could have meaningfully altered the phone records.

AT&T has since purged the original records, but the company issued a certificate of authenticity after reviewing the 2016 records offered by police. Shea argued that the certificate was issued based on the company’s best “guess” and that the records could’ve been altered by police and weren’t reliable.

Kennedy disagreed, but she did, however, prohibit Bolton from using a slide show that he had planned to show jurors after finding that it was “riddled with mistakes.”

Shea specifically took issue with an 11:47 p.m. location marker that was included in the presentation, but that Bolton couldn’t explain to Kennedy nor support with the records he had.

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