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Prominent Attorney Dan Lilley Dies at 79

Maine Public/file
Attorney Dan Lilley walks behind his client Mark Strong as they leave court in 2013.

Described by his colleagues as a passionate defense attorney who was fearless in the courtroom, Daniel Lilley died Saturday at a Maine hospital, according to his Portland law firm.

The 79-year-old Aroostook County native was remembered by his peers as a brilliant trial lawyer who never forgot the value of the common touch.

In his 50-year legal career, Dan Lilley rose to the upper echelon of criminal trial attorneys in Maine, handling high profile cases that included the 2013 defense of Mark Strong Sr. Strong was a Thomaston insurance broker and alleged business partner of a Kennebunk prostitute who was running a brothel out of a Zumba dance studio.

Augusta attorney Walt McKee said that while Lilley had a common touch with his clients, the gloves came off in the courtroom.

“He was somebody who was feared by everyone on the other side because Dan was always somebody who was all in all the way and who was not one to surrender at all – a tremendous advocate, and a great loss,” McKee said.

In 1990, Lilley used a “battered spouse” defense to win an acquittal for Jackie Bevins of Ogunquit who was charged with murder after allegedly shooting her husband 15 times. Eight years later he defended Seiha Srey who was charged with killing 18-year-old Robert Joyal in Portland. Lilley was able to develop evidence in the case and the charges against Srey were dropped as he recalled in a Maine Public Radio interview.

“There are a multitude of witnesses that show that my client was where he was and what he was doing at the time of the death of this young man and he wasn’t anywhere near him to cause any of his problems and the second group of evidence shows that there are other people who saw what happened and saw the perpetrator and it wasn’t my client,” Lilley said.

Portland attorney Stephen Schwartz said the idea that everyone deserves a chance no matter what the charge, was a belief that Lilley carried with him throughout his career. But it was Lilley’s ability to connect with a jury that left a lasting impression on Schwartz and other lawyers.

“He was extremely comfortable in front of a jury,” said Schwartz. “Any lawyer who would watch him would actually learn from him – he had a really special charisma with the jury,” Schwartz said.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.