The trial of a Florida woman facing a second-degree murder charge in the 2009 shooting death of Dedham, Maine, resident Arthur “Art” Tilley Jr. began Tuesday in Tampa, Fla.
Tamra Suzanne Leasure, 45, of Riverview, Fla., is accused of shooting Tilley three times and at her home March 5, 2009, and placing the gun in his hand afterward to stage a suicide.
A jury of four men and two women was selected Monday for the trial, and a third woman was selected as an alternate, Holden resident and Tilley‘s friend Peter Golding said Tuesday, relaying information from friends and family in the courtroom.
“Today the trial starts,” he said Tuesday. “Opening statements were supposed to start at 9 a.m.”
Tilley’s brother Matthew Tilley of Bangor; his sister Anne Landbergs of Massachusetts; her two daughters, Victoria Landbergs and Katherine Landbergs; and two friends, Elizabeth Ryan and Nancy Golding, traveled to Florida for the trial.
Tilley, a longtime Bangor resident, was staying with Leasure when he was shot and killed in her home. Leasure was arrested May 4, 2009, after an investigation by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. Her trial is in Florida’s 13th Circuit Court.
Leasure told Hillsborough County 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.
During the investigation, Leasure told detectives that “the third shot was not necessary.”
Leasure appeared before Circuit Court Judge Manuel Lopez on July 29, 2010, and asked him to throw out the case against her based on the state’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law.
Lopez ruled that Leasure had “not convinced the court beyond a preponderance of the evidence that immunity has been proven here” and denied her motion.
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 statements she made to police, which contradict her theory of self-defense,” Lopez’s July ruling states.
Dr. Laura Hair, associate medical examiner for Hillsborough County, testified during the July 29, 2010, hearing that the third shot hit Tilley from behind while he lay dead on the floor.
Tilley, 57, was a well-known and active Bangor Kiwanis Club member who was president of Page Answering Service and Com-Nav Inc., both based in Brewer, where he worked for more than 30 years.
His father, Arthur Tilley Sr., is a former member of the Bangor City Council.