BANGOR, Maine — Jury selection in the trial of a York County man accused in the hit-and-run death of a University of Maine student 18 months ago is scheduled to begin Monday.
Opening arguments are not expected to be presented until late Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. The trial is scheduled to last two weeks.
Garrett Cheney, 23, of South Berwick is 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.
Cheney allegedly struck and killed University of Maine junior Jordyn Bakley, 20, of Camden about 3 a.m. Jan. 30, 2010, 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.
“The state’s case is based upon a long and thorough investigation that was conducted by the Orono Police Department and the Maine State Police and involves a lot of testimony by different types of witnesses and will culminate with the testimony of experts from state police crime lab that will enable a fact finder to see that Mr. Cheney is responsible for Jordan Bakley’s death,” Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy, who is prosecuting the case, said Friday.
Defense attorney William T. Bly of Biddeford disagreed with Almy’s assessment of the evidence.
“I very much disagree with Chris Almy that this was a carefully investigated case,” he said Friday. “The police missed obvious clues that could have led to the actual person that struck and killed Jordan Bakley.
“There is zero direct evidence to tie Garrett Cheney and his vehicle to the death of Jordan Bakley,” he continued. “The is no DNA evidence and no fiber from the victim’s clothing — nothing at all was found on his vehicle that would be consistent with this type of pedestrian accident.”
Superior Court Justice William Anderson, who will preside over the trial, Monday denied Bly’s motion to suppress the seizure of the truck and the grille work from it that a state police detective found in the back seat of Cheney’s pickup. Anderson found that Detective Darryl Peary had permission to be on the property of the towing company where the truck was located when he looked through the window of the back seat and saw the grille.
“The court is not aware of any precedent, however, extending the expectation [of privacy] to the property of the company where the vehicle was located such that the officers would have been required to obtain a warrant in order to lawfully stand next to the pickup and peer inside,” the judge wrote. “The consent of T & W Towing was sufficient.”
Peary later obtained a search warrant to remove the grille from the truck. Almy has said that pieces from a grille found at the scene of the hit-and-run match the missing sections of the grille from Cheney’s truck.
Bakley’s 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 cousin’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, who has no criminal history, faces up to 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.