PORTLAND, Maine — Dan Lilley, a brash defense lawyer who was involved in many of Maine’s highest-profile cases including a prostitution scandal at a Zumba studio and the case of a restaurateur who shot her husband 15 times, has died. He was 79.
Mr. Lilley died Saturday night at Maine Medical Center, his law office said Monday. The cause of death was not immediately released.
Mr. Lilley was known as a tough, old-school defense attorney and was sometimes called a maverick in the courtroom.
‘‘He was a guy to be cherished if you had a good cause and had Dan at your side — and feared if you were on the wrong side,’’ said F. Lee Bailey, another prominent attorney who was part of the defense team at O.J. Simpson’s murder trial.
Mr. Lilley used a ‘‘battered wife syndrome’’ defense to win acquittal for an Ogunquit restaurateur who in 1990 shot her husband so many times she had to stop to reload.
More recently, he represented insurance agent Mark Strong, who was accused of serving as the business partner of a Zumba instructor accused of running a brothel in Kennebunk.
The scandal in Kennebunk, a village known more for its sea captains’ homes and beaches than crime, attracted international attention.
‘‘In the middle of the circus that was Mark Strong’s trial, Dan was undoubtedly the ringleader, bringing an air of drama and comedy — in equal measure — to the proceedings,’’ said Tina Nadeau, who served alongside him during that trial.
Mr. Lilley enjoyed many of the trappings of his legal success.
For years, he enjoyed racing around Portland Harbor in a speedboat before giving it up in favor of a 50-foot power yacht, the Barrister.
But he also had a ‘‘heart of gold’’ that showed through in his assistance to other lawyers, forgiveness of debts, and donations to causes, Bailey said.
‘‘I was pretty sure that Dan would outlive us all. I know there will never be another attorney like Dan in Maine or anywhere: They don’t make attorneys like him anymore,’’ Nadeau said.