BANGOR, Maine — A South Berwick man was arrested early Friday and charged in the Jan. 30 hit-and-run death of a University of Maine student in Orono.
Garrett Cheney, 22, was charged with manslaughter, aggravated criminal operating under the influence of intoxicants, leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury and criminal operating under the influence of intoxicants.
Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said Cheney, accompanied by his attorney, William T. Bly of Biddeford, surrendered about 6 a.m. Friday at the Orono police station but was not interviewed by investigators. Bly’s practice is devoted to criminal defense with a specialty in drunken driving defense.
Cheney allegedly struck and killed Jordyn Bakley, 20, of Camden about 3 a.m. Jan. 30 in front of 15 Middle St. in Orono near her apartment. He allegedly was driving on the wrong side of the street when he struck Bakley, who was killed instantly.
Bakley was a 2007 graduate of Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport and a competitive swimmer for the school. Bakley shared a house with other students at 27 Middle St.
Her body was found about 5:30 a.m. Jan. 30 by a Bangor Daily News deliveryman.
According to an Orono police affidavit filed Friday, Cheney was in Orono on Jan. 29, visiting a cousin to celebrate the younger man’s 21st birthday.
After allegedly hitting Bakley, Cheney headed south on Interstate 95. His 2003 Chevy Silverado went off the highway about 3:30 a.m. in Etna. The damaged pickup was towed to the storage lot of a Newport towing firm.
Cheney was not injured but was charged with drunken driving. His blood alcohol level was 0.15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit, two hours after his truck left I-95, according to the affidavit.
A witness who lives at 38 Middle St. told investigators on Feb. 5 that Cheney had been at his house on Jan. 30 and had been drinking. Cheney’s cousin also told police the same day that he and Cheney had been drinking on Jan. 29 at bars in downtown Orono.
The cousin told police that he had expected Cheney to spend the night with him and help him move furniture on Jan. 30. He said Cheney called him between noon and 1 p.m. Jan. 30 to say he was at a hotel after crashing his truck into a tree and had been charged with drunken driving, the affidavit said.
On Feb. 5, investigators learned that Cheney’s truck was still in the towing company’s storage. It was impounded and taken to the crime lab in Augusta, according to Almy.
Orono police, Maine State Police detectives and crime lab technicians were able to match evidence retrieved at the scene of the hit-and-run with Cheney’s Silverado and Bakley’s injuries, Almy said. Portions of the broken grille recovered at the scene of the hit-and-run matched the grille on Cheney’s truck, according to the affidavit.
University and town officials expressed relief that someone had been charged in the accident.
“We are thankful to the several law enforcement agencies that worked so hard on investigating this case and bringing it to the point where an arrest has been made,” Robert Dana, vice president of student affairs and dean of students, said Friday in an e-mail.
“Jordyn was well-liked throughout our community and her death had a significant impact on many of our students in addition to our faculty and staff,” he said. “While we recognize that there is a long way to go before this matter is fully resolved, many in our community will take some solace in the fact that police believe they have identified the person responsible for this tragedy.”
Orono Town Manager Cathy Conlow on Friday afternoon praised the efforts of investigators in an e-mail.
“Orono is a small and tightly knit university community,” she said. “The tragedy of losing Jordyn Bakley, an Orono resident and university student, has affected us all deeply. The Orono Police Department and the Maine State Police have worked tirelessly to investigate her tragic death.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Jordyn Bakley, and we hope the recent arrest of a suspect provides some small measure of relief,” she said. “We are confident that the district attorney will strive to ensure that justice is appropriately dispensed.”
Cheney was released Friday afternoon from Penobscot County Jail after posting $50,000 surety bail. He did not appear before a judge, Almy said.
If convicted of manslaughter, the most serious crime with which he is charged, he faces up to 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
A records check with the Maine State Bureau of Identification showed Cheney has no criminal history.
He is scheduled to make his initial court appearance on May 20, Almy said.