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

Prosecutors promised the jury that Naja Lake would lead them to convict Aristotle Stilley of murder and aggravated assault for a shooting eight years ago.

David Anderson Photo courtesy of Anderson family

Her testimony was so important to the state’s case that prosecutors agreed to offer her immunity, which a judge approved Tuesday in an order demanding Lake’s testimony.

But on the second day of Stilley’s trial in Cumberland County Superior Court, Lake recanted previous statements in which she implied that Stilley was the man who killed David Anderson, 36, and injured Abdirahman Abdullahi, 21, at an apartment on Gilman Street in 2016.

Lake’s statements led prosecutors to phone records that they say show that on the night of the shooting Stilley had called someone with ties to the apartment. And the bullets that police found inside the unit matched the ammunition Lake had described buying – silver with blue tips. (The shooter had collected the shell casings, but some bullets were recovered).

It’s unclear how strong that evidence will be to jurors in a case where neither the eyewitnesses nor the crime scene evidence points to a clear suspect.

Stilley, 27, was indicted in August 2020 while living in California. He was extradited to Maine months later and pleaded not guilty in February 2021. He has been held in jail without bail for three years.


He and Lake lived together in Saco at the time of the shooting and they have two daughters together. At some point after 2016, they moved to California, where Lake said Tuesday that she still resides.

In 2018, Lake was ordered to testify in front of a closed federal grand jury at the U.S. District Court in Portland. Stilley was still in California at the time.

Attorneys didn’t say Tuesday what the federal government was investigating and whether any federal charges came of Lake’s testimony. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said they’re barred from discussing grand juries and a search through online federal records shows no public cases in which either Lake or Stilley are defendants.


Lake’s testimony in 2018 was hardly perfect.

According to transcript of her statements that was read for the jury Tuesday, she stumbled over some answers and said several times that she was anxious, that she was there unwillingly and her memory was incomplete.


“Since that night I’ve been experiencing a lot of traumatic events, so my memory is fairly spotty,” Lake said at the time.

Lake said under oath that she and Stilley bought a gun together in February 2016 so she could protect herself when he wasn’t around. She kept the gun in the glovebox of her car.

On the night of March 15, 2016, Lake said she drove herself, Stilley and their 6-month-old daughter from their home in Saco to Portland. They stopped briefly at Maine Medical Center, then Stilley asked her to drop him off at Franklin Street. He returned about five minutes later, she said. On their way back to Saco, she said he asked her to stop in Old Orchard Beach so he could “get rid of it,” which she assumed meant the gun.

She told the grand jury that she lied when she reported to police the next day that the gun was stolen. Police told her then that it was possible her weapon could’ve been used in a shooting the night before. Lake said she asked Stilley if that was possible.

“What was his answer?” the federal prosecutor asked.

“He started to cry,” Lake said. She said he never denied the possibility.


But she also said she never saw Stilley with the gun.

“Did you see him with the gun that day?” the federal prosecutor asked.

“I didn’t,” Lake said.

“Why did you believe it to be the gun that he’s talking about?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know,” she said.

Lake told the courtroom on Tuesday that parts of that testimony were false. She lied under oath about Stilley asking her to stop in Old Orchard Beach so he could discard the gun. And she said she really did believe in 2016 that her gun was stolen


Lake said she felt pressured by federal prosecutors because a Portland detective who arrested her a week before said they could help her get back her daughter, who was in California state custody at the time.

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin asked twice how Lake could believe that “someone in Portland, Maine, could get back (her) daughter in California.”

Lake told Stilley’s attorney, Tina Nadeau, that she didn’t have a lot of trust in police. She said they made her feel inferior, and that when she reported her gun stolen she was uncomfortable with what seemed like an unusual amount of attention to her.

“I don’t have a lot of experience with the legal stuff,” Lake said. “I was overwhelmed. I thought I was in trouble.”


Lake didn’t provide many answers in court on Tuesday. She repeatedly told Robbin that she couldn’t recall much from that time, including details about the blue bullets she bought and what she had initially told police.


“I don’t have the best memory, it’s been about a decade,” Lake said. “A lot has happened in this last year unfortunately.”

Lake is one of at least two dozen witnesses the state plans to call in Stilley’s weeklong trial.

On Monday, the jury heard from Abdullahi, now 28, who also struggled to remember some of the details of that day. They also heard from Anthony Osborne, who witnessed the shooting.

Neither man could identify the gunman, who showed up to the apartment door a little after 11 p.m., wearing a dark sweatshirt and a red covering over his face. Surveillance footage from the hallway shows the gunman knocked before turning around. He waited until Anderson opened the door a crack before turning around and firing six rounds through the door.

One of the bullets hit Anderson in the chest. Another hit Abdullahi in the leg.

Police had been investigating the apartment days before the shooting occurred for alleged drug trafficking. A property manager testified Monday that she contacted police because she was concerned with the number of people coming in and out of the unit, often only staying for short periods.

But none of those people were Stilley, his attorneys have argued. They say he had no ties to the apartment and no motive to shoot anyone inside.

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