Judge denies self-defense claims in Dedham man’s shooting death

In a Florida court on July 29, Tamra Leasure describes the moments just before Arthur R. Tilley Jr. of Dedham, Maine, was shot and killed in her Riverview, Fla., home in March 2009. [St. Petersburg Times Photo by STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON]
St. Petersburg Times
In a Florida court on July 29, Tamra Leasure describes the moments just before Arthur R. Tilley Jr. of Dedham, Maine, was shot and killed in her Riverview, Fla., home in March 2009. [St. Petersburg Times Photo by STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON]
Posted Sept. 07, 2010, at 9:17 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:33 a.m.
Arthur R. Tilley Jr. (Photo courtesy of family)
courtesy of family
Arthur R. Tilley Jr. (Photo courtesy of family)

BANGOR, Maine — A Florida judge has ordered that a woman in that state who was charged last year with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Dedham resident Arthur “Art” Tilley Jr. must stand trial.

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.

Lopez has ruled that Leasure “has not convinced the court beyond a preponderance of the evidence that immunity has been proven here. The Defendant’s motion is therefore denied.”

The “Stand Your Ground” 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,” the law states.

“The main evidence against the Defendant is the series of [inconsistent] statements she made to police, which contradict her theory of self-defense,” Lopez’s ruling states.

Leasure, who is out on bail, did not answer her home phone Tuesday evening and did not return a message left for a comment on the case.

Tilley, 57, 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.

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.”

Dr. Laura Hair, associate medical examiner for Hillsborough County, testified during the July 29 hearing that the third shot hit Tilley from behind while he lay dead on the floor.

Leasure has an Oct. 4 court date, according to the Hillsborough County court clerk.

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