A Lisbon man, who served nine years of a 20-year  sentence for aggravated attempted murder of Auburn police and was given a new trial last year, will have to wait months longer for his chance to be exonerated.

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

A Waldo County Superior Court clerk said Wednesday that the retrial of 59-year-old Bartolo Ford had been scheduled to get underway Monday, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An order issued by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and updated this week said no jury trials in state court will take place until after June 30.

A judge ruled last year that Ford’s trial would be moved from Androscoggin County to Waldo County.

Ford was convicted in 2010 in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn 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.

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.

Ford remains free on bail.

Ford’s high-speed chase with Auburn 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 a 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.

Experts who testified at his trial disagreed to what extent his experience as a soldier during the Persian Gulf War might have affected his state of mind during the incident that night.

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