BANGOR — A South Berwick man pleaded not guilty Thursday in the Jan. 30 hit-and-run death of a University of Maine student in Orono.
Garrett Cheney, 22, faces charges of 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.
Defense attorney William T. Bly of Biddeford said after the arraignment that the evidence against his client is circumstantial and the case most likely will go to trial.
He said Cheney maintains his innocence.
“This is an awful, awful tragedy,” Bly said. “The only thing that could make it worse would be to convict an innocent person.”
The attorney said that the evidence against his client is “entirely circumstantial.” Bly said the defense had hired an accident reconstruction expert who most likely would testify at the trial.
Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy disagreed. In response to questions from reporters, Almy said he was confident of a conviction.
“The evidence in its totality will show that Mr. Cheney was the driver in this case,” he said.
A trial date had not been set, but most likely the trial would not be held until next year.
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 was driving on the wrong side of the street when he struck Bakley, who was killed instantly, according to court documents.
He surrendered April 16 at the Orono police station. Cheney has no criminal history.
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.
Cheney was in Orono on Jan. 29 visiting a cousin to celebrate the younger man’s 21st birthday, according to an Orono police affidavit filed at the time of his arrest.
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, according to the affidavit. 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.
If convicted of manslaughter, the most serious crime with which he is charged, Cheney faces up to 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.