PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Prominent Maine defense attorney Dan Lilley has died, friends close to the family report.
Lilley, originally from Houlton, is known for his work in several high profile cases in Maine. In 1985, he defended Tony DiMilllo of DiMillo's Restaurant and Lounge, who was acquitted of tax evasion.
In 1990, Jackie Bevins of Ogunquit was charged with murder after shooting her husband 15 times, and reloading her gun in the process. Lilley used a "battered wife syndrome" defense, and Bevins was acquitted.
In just 2012, Lilley made headlines by defending Mark Strong, the alleged "business partner" of Alexis Wright. Wright was accused of operating a prostitution business out of her Kennebunk Zumba studio.
Several who knew him say that Lilley's role defending alleged criminals made him a polarizing figure. But criminal defense attorney F. Lee Bailey, known for his work on OJ Simpson's defense team, says that Lilley was a colleague, a good friend, and had a "heart of gold."
"When Dan Lilley walked into a courtroom - I think the thing that makes trial lawyers different - is that he suddenly felt at home," said Bailey. "I think what might surprise the public - and indeed it's been laid in my lap more than once - people say, 'Oh, I'm surprised you're a nice guy.' They kind of view defense lawyers as Atilla the Hun or a close cousin. And that's what surprised people about Dan Lilley. Although he could be tough in the courtroom, particularly on law enforcement that strayed from the straight and narrow, he had a heart of gold. He helped a lot of people out."
Representatives from Sweetser, a comprehensive behavioral health care organization in Maine, say that Lilley once donated $50,000 to keep the Sweetser Peer Center in Brunswick Open when it was going to close in 2014. To this day, they say it is still open because of his contributions.
F. Lee Bailey says that Lilley had a variety of health issues, including a constant struggle with his pulmonary system.
Bailey also said that he and other colleagues will begin to look over Lilley's cases to take over any work left undone.