Aristotle Stilley leaves the courtroom in Cumberland County Superior Court on April 1, the first day of his murder trial. Stilley is accused of killing David Anderson in Portland in 2016. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

A jury will continue deliberating Thursday morning about whether to convict a 27-year-old man on murder and assault charges in a shooting that happened more than eight years ago.

David Anderson Courtesy of Anderson family

They spent about three hours Wednesday afternoon considering the evidence against Aristotle Stilley, who prosecutors say shot six rounds into an apartment on Gilman Street on the night of March 15, 2016, killing 36-year-old David Anderson and injuring 21-year-old Abdirahman Abdullahi.

The 12-member jury came back to the courtroom a few times to rewatch surveillance footage of the shooter, who was dressed mostly in dark clothing, his face obscured by a hood and a red covering.

Jurors also had Superior Justice MaryGay Kennedy repeat instructions on what it means to reach a verdict “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“The state must present enough evidence to convince you that the charge against the defendant is almost certainly true,” Kennedy read.  

The state abruptly rested its case Wednesday morning. A few witnesses who had came to the courthouse to testify were excused.


They included John “JJ” McLean, who Stilley’s previous attorneys had argued could have been an alternative suspect in the shooting. McLean had been arrested and ordered to testify, though prosecutors agreed last week to give him immunity. It wasn’t clear why the state no longer wanted to call him to the stand.

Before closing arguments, Kennedy denied a final request from Stilley’s attorneys for the judge to end the case herself and acquit their client.

“The state has clearly not met its burden,” his lawyer, Stephen Shea, told the judge. He said prosecutors introduced no forensic evidence tying Stilley to the crime.

Assistant Attorney General Bud Ellis acknowledged that the evidence was circumstantial – “but circumstantial cases can still get convictions,” he said.

The state’s case relies heavily on testimony that Naja Lake delivered to a federal grand jury in 2018. Lake was in a relationship with Stilley in 2016 and they have two children together.

The day after the shooting, Lake met with Portland police and told them she believed her gun had been stolen from her car that night while it was parked in the area of Gilman Street. Police met with Lake several more times that year, believing her gun could’ve been used in the shooting.


Lake told a grand jury she and Stilley drove to Portland the night of the shooting. She said that afterward he asked if they could stop somewhere to get rid of the gun, and she said that when she asked him later if it was possible he used her gun in the shooting he cried and never denied it.

But last week, Lake told the Cumberland County jury that she had lied under pressure from prosecutors and police – specifically, from Portland Detective Jeff Tully, who Lake said told her in 2018 that he could help her get her daughter back from California state custody.

“It’s ludicrous,” Ellis said Wednesday in his closing arguments. He suggested that when Lake recanted last week she was still protecting Stilley, with whom she still talks regularly.

But Stilley’s other lawyer, Tina Nadeau, said Lake has never truly implicated Stilley as the shooter. Lake told the grand jury in 2018 that she never actually saw Stilley with the gun.

Tully also admitted in court Friday that he did offer to connect Lake with services in California that could help her get her daughter back while arresting her with an FBI agent.

“She was experiencing very freshly the pain of losing her daughter,” Nadeau said. “As a mother, she was desperate. Anything said similar to that would give her hope.”


Nadeau argued that the state’s investigation was incomplete and that they found more evidence contradicting their case against Stilley than confirming it.

Stilley’s DNA profile was excluded from a swab taken from the alleged murder weapon, Lake’s .40 caliber Hi-Point gun that was found two months after the shooting, almost 2 miles from Gilman Street.

Police never definitively concluded the gun was the one used at the shooting either. A Maine State Police lab scientist asked police if they could send bullets from the crime scene to a lab in Canada for better testing, but police decided not to do so.

They did find another man’s DNA profile on the gun, but they still don’t know whose it is. A sample of McLean’s DNA from 2017 was tested earlier this year and was not a match.

“The detectives didn’t solve this case,” Nadeau said. “The prosecutors didn’t prove this case, and they’ve had every opportunity to do so for eight years. And now we’re here eight years later with even more possible questions than answers.”

“What motivated the defendant to go there that night? We can’t tell you. There are certain things that remain unknown,” Ellis said.

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