ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Bar Harbor man accused of killing a 19-year-old woman he went to high school with will remain in jail without bail.
Jalique Keene, 21, did not enter a plea to the murder charge filed against him when he appeared briefly Wednesday morning in Hancock County Superior Court. Keene is accused of killing Mikaela Conley sometime between when she went missing in Bar Harbor last Thursday and when her body was found Saturday morning in woods next to that town’s elementary school.
Wearing a red jail-issued jumpsuit and standing between his attorneys at the defense table in the courtroom Wednesday, Keene told Justice Bruce Mallonee that he understood the charges filed against him.
He was led back to jail after his attorneys and prosecutors told the judge that they agreed he should remain in jail without bail for the time being. A bail hearing for Keene still could be scheduled at some point if his attorneys request one.
Police have not released details about the cause and circumstances of Conley’s death, and court documents relating to the case have been impounded by the court, making them unavailable to the public.
Security in the courtroom was heavy during the hearing, which lasted only five minutes.
Assistant Attorney General John Alsop, the prosecutor in the case, and Keene’s defense attorneys, Jeff Toothaker and Dawn Corbett, declined to comment after the hearing.
Friends and family of Conley and/or Keene were present in the courtroom for the hearing. None spoke to the media after Keene was led back to jail.
Keene had recently returned to Maine from a stint playing football for an amateur team in Serbia, the Kraljevo Royal Crowns, according to his coach and a friend who spoke to the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday.
Keene played as a running back for Mount Desert Island High School’s football team and went on to play at West Virginia State University before joining the Royal Crowns.
He left the Royal Crowns on May 28 and spent a few days in Belgrade before coming home, according to Srdan Cosic, the team’s head coach and general manager.
Cosic said he last communicated with Keene on Sunday or Monday, asking him about his flight back to the U.S.
“He told me that some girl was found dead and he knew her,” Cosic said from Serbia via a private Facebook message, “so because of that he felt torn, and he wished he had stayed in Serbia.”
Keene was arrested and charged Monday night in connection with Conley’s death.
“I said to him that I am sorry and that I supported him,” Cosic added. “But I did not expect this. Oh, I feel so bad.”
Grady Dobbs, 21, who described Keene as one of his best friends, said Keene returned from Serbia late last week.
“He didn’t do it,” Dobbs said flatly of Conley’s death.
Dobbs downplayed any trouble Keene might have gotten into during their high school days, saying Keene was no more of a troublemaker than anyone else.
Keene, 21, is among four siblings adopted by Barbara Smith-Keene and the late Gerald Keene, according to Taelor Bowden, who said her grandmother is his stepfather’s cousin.
Keene grew up in Bar Harbor and attended MDI High School with Conley. Both had “friended” each other on Facebook.
“They have always been in the same friend group, but I don’t know if they were close friends,” Bowden said.
Aside from Facebook postings acknowledging Conley’s death and thanking the community for its support, her family has declined to comment.
Bowden described Keene as “a little bit of a bully,” a troublemaker and “always the type of person who was aggressive. He would get overly competitive.”
Keene has a prior criminal record but no convictions that would suggest he has been accused of violent behavior.
In 2012, when he was 15, he was sentenced on a felony charge of burglary, for which he was ordered to serve a year of probation and pay restitution of $260.70, according to the State Bureau of Identification.
In 2016, he was convicted of three misdemeanor counts of furnishing a place for minors to consume liquor, and of one count each of theft and violating conditions of release. He served two days in jail for those offenses.
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