BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The fate of a Fort Madison man accused of aiding and abetting the 2016 armed robbery of the former Fort Madison Bank & Trust’s west end, is now in the hands of a jury.
District Court Judge Mary Ann Brown sent the case to the jury at the North Lee County Courthouse in Fort Madison, but not after recessing the trial until Friday morning at 9 a.m. Assistant Iowa Attorney General Andy Prosser and then Burlington public defender Jonathan Stesnvaag gave closing arguments starting about 3:15 p.m..
Kenneth Lee Lilly, 52, who lives in Fort Madison with his girlfriend Amber Sawyer and the couple’s children, is charged with aiding and abetting 1st degree armed robbery. The state contends that Lilly used his maroon GMC suburban to drop off Lafayette Antonio “Tony” Evans on June 29, 2016 and then headed into town.
Lilly told Stensvaag during direct examination, that he was taking Fentanyl, a powerful narcotic, and another pain killer for back issues. Lilly said the drug can make his memory fuzzy. Lilly also talked about going to Rockford, Ill., just hours after the robbery saying he already had plans to go to Rockford to stay with his mother and brother and work on some vehicles. Lilly testified that he’s a part-time mechanic in his brother’s, Brian Lilly’s, repair shop in Rockford.
On cross-examination Prosser asked Lilly how the drugs could possibly affect his memory at times during the morning of the robbery as to his whereabouts, but not affect his ability to drive to Rockford two hours later.
Lilly said his body can build up a tolerance to the drug and he also had trouble getting to Rockford.
“Look at the text messages and you’ll see one to Amber that said I was having an anxiety attack because I had gotten lost,” Lilly told Prosser.
Lilly said he got to Rockford in about 3.5 hours after leaving Fort Madison because he was able to get to an AutoZone where he has a commercial account and purchased parts for a car he would be working on.
Lilly also had told investigators during questioning prior to his arrest in October, that he got up about 10:30 a.m. or 11 on the day of the robbery. The 911 call on the robbery came into police at 10:11 a.m. on the 29th. Video evidence showed Lilly at Caseys and Kempker’s starting at 8:39 a.m. purchasing cigarettes, and looking for a part for an extension cord. Lilly had told investigators he was alone during the trips to Casey’s and Kempker’s but then testified Thursday that his kids were with him.
One surveillance video showed what appeared to be a person in the front passenger seat when he pulled into Caseys. Lilly said that was probably his oldest son.
“So how do you explain saying you were alone, if your children we’re in the vehicle?,” Prosser asked.
“I really don’t see my kids as people, they’re just in the back seat,” Lilly replied.
Lilly said he went back to Casey’s a second time to get gas and snacks for the kids for the trip to Rockford that afternoon, but no video evidence was produced of that visit.
Lilly also testified that he thought Evans was suicidal and was attempting suicide by cop. During Stensvaag’s questioning, Lilly said he took Evans fishing a couple times to help get his mind off his problems.
“I found him crying on the floor one night saying no one loved him or cared about him and I stayed up with him all night trying to make him laugh,” Lilly said.
Prosser asked him why, if Evans was looking for a cop to shoot him, would he turn and run from the cops at one door of the bank and head out the the other door away from police. Lilly just replied that it was his opinion that Evans was suicidal.
During the close, Stensvaag said the state hadn’t even proven it was Lilly’s vehicle at the scene citing poor quality videos and questioned why Lilly, if he was the driver for a bank robber, would stop at a drive thru where no time could be controlled to get a pop.
“Blending into a crowd is not a plausible reason to find guilt,” Stensvaag said.
Prosser went through the evidence in the case and contradictions in Lilly’s statements and then closed with…”If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…it’s probably a duck.”
Two Lilly family members also took the stand on Thursday.
Kenneth’s mother, Helen, and brother Brian, who live in the same house in Rockford, testified to the relationship between Kenneth and Lafayette Antonio “Tony” Evans. Both said under direct examination that Kenneth and Tony didn’t know each other very well and didn’t speak often prior to Evans staying with Kenneth’s girlfriend in Fort Madison in the weeks leading up to the robbery on June 29, 2016.
Helen Lilly was in Birmingham, Ala., visiting family when Kenneth and Brian were staying at her house in Rockford the day of the robbery and until July 6, 2016.
Fort Madison Police officers shot and killed Evans as he was trying to escape the bank with a large amount of cash.