Gruesome photos shown Wednesday during a murder trial in Ellsworth show the extent to which a Bar Harbor woman allegedly was beaten when she was killed last summer on the grounds of an elementary school.
The photos of Mikaela Conley were introduced as evidence when attorneys questioned Maine State Police detectives and a medical examiner about what they discovered last summer after Conley’s body was found in a clump of vegetation next to Conners-Emerson School in downtown Bar Harbor. Some of the photos of Conley’s body were taken where her body was found, while others were taken during an autopsy of Conley’s body in Augusta.
Jalique Keene, 22, of Bar Harbor, is charged with raping and murdering Conley in the early morning hours of June 1, 2018. He has said he and Conley had consensual sex and maintains that he did not kill her.
The photos show significant scrapes and bruises on Conley’s arms, legs, neck, feet and hands. A photo of Conley’s discolored and swollen face elicited some gasps from roughly two dozen of Conley’s friends and relatives who were in the courtroom to observe the trial. Several cried silently as witnesses involved in the investigation continued to testify.
Keene’s defense attorneys, Jeffrey Toothaker and Dawn Corbett, objected to the photos being introduced as testimony — which Corbett said was “prejudicial” to her client.
Justice Robert Murray, the presiding judge at the trial, overruled the objection and allowed the jury and everyone else in the courtroom to see the photos, which were displayed on several monitors by the jury and on separate tables where Keene’s attorneys and prosecutors sat.
Dr. Margaret Greenwald, Maine’s former chief medical examiner who continues to do contract forensic pathology work for the state, testified Wednesday afternoon that Conley had bleeding in her eyes and brain and injuries to her neck consistent with strangulation.
“It was substantial force that caused [the bruising] and multiple impacts in multiple areas” of Conley’s body, Greenwald said. “Multiple blunt force injuries and strangulation was [Conley’s] cause of death.”
Under cross examination by Toothaker, Greenwald said that it would be reasonable to expect that whoever assaulted Conley would have suffered similar external injuries during the altercation.
But under further questioning by Meg Elam, who is prosecuting the case with fellow Assistant Attorney General John Alsop, Greenwald said that a physically larger attacker likely would not have received similar injuries to Conley, who was 5-foot-4 and weighed only 93 pounds.
According to information posted on a website for West Virginia State University athletic teams, where Keene played college football, in 2015 he was 6 feet tall and weighed 180 pounds.
Testimony in the trial is expected to continue Thursday morning.
If you or someone you know needs resources or support related to sexual violence, contact the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s 24/7 hotline at 800-871-7741.