Fla. woman claims self-defense in Dedham man’s shooting death

Posted Aug. 10, 2010, at 11:31 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 03, 2011, at 10:17 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Florida woman who was arrested last year in that state and charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Dedham resident Arthur “Art” Tilley Jr. says she acted in self-defense.

Tamra Suzanne Leasure, 45, of Riverview, Fla., appeared before Florida’s 13th Circuit Court Judge Manuel Lopez on July 29 and asked him to throw out the case against her based on the state’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law.

The law was enacted in 2005 and allows the use of deadly force against aggressors when a person “reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony,” the law states.

Leasure, who is out on bail, answered her home phone Tuesday but said she had no comment on the case.

Leasure told Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office detectives that she “shot the victim three times with her .38-caliber handgun and then placed the gun in the victim’s hand to stage a suicide,” a press release posted on the sheriff’s office website at the time of her arrest states.

Tilley, a longtime Bangor resident, was staying with Leasure and was shot and killed in her home on March 5, 2009. Leasure was arrested on May 4, 2009, after an investigation by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

“The investigation determined that the defendant and victim were arguing in the kitchen when [Leasure] pulled the revolver and fired, hitting [Tilley] three times — in the head, neck and torso,” the press release states.

During the investigation, Leasure told detectives that “the third shot was not necessary.”

Her Tampa attorney, John M. Fitzgibbons, petitioned the court on July 20 for immunity from criminal prosecution based on the law, which led to the July 29 court session.

Lopez is scheduled to issue a written ruling on the petition, but as of Tuesday had not issued it, according to a Hillsborough County Court clerk. Leasure does have an Oct. 4 court date.

“I don’t want to comment at this point,” Fitzgibbons said Tuesday.

Tilley was a well-known and active Bangor Kiwanis Club member who worked for Page Answering Service for 30 years and later for Com-Nav Inc., both based in Brewer.

His father, Arthur Tilley Sr., is a former Bangor city councilor.