October 23, 2019
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Attorney: Bar Harbor man accused of murder ‘most likely’ will testify at trial

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Jalique Keene (center) with his attorneys Jeffrey Toothaker, left, and Dawn Corbett at the Hancock County Superior Court during the first day of his trial in Ellsworth Tuesday. Keene is accused of killing Mikaela Conley in Bar Harbor in 2018.

A Bar Harbor man recorded by a school security camera carrying the apparently lifeless body of a woman he is accused of killing “most likely” will testify Friday at his murder trial, according to his defense attorney.

Prosecutors rested their case Thursday against Jalique Keene, 22, after showing the trial jury video footage of him carrying the body of Mikaela Conley behind a building at Conners Emerson School in downtown Bar Harbor. Keene is accused of raping and killing Conley, whom he had known since grade school, on the grounds of the K-8 school on June 1, 2018.

Keene’s trial on rape and murder charges began Tuesday morning in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court in Ellsworth. The trial is expected to end sometime on Friday. A jury of nine women and six men, including three alternates, are expected to render a verdict later in the day.

In the video played in court on Thursday, Keene can be seen in broad morning daylight coming around some vegetation with the body of Conley, 19, draped over his back. The footage shows him holding her arms as he walks along the back of the Conners school building and then out of view toward some trees, with Conley’s toes dragging limply across the ground behind him.

[Photos, testimony detail extent of Bar Harbor woman’s injuries in her killing last year]

The video was recorded by an exterior security camera at Conners Emerson School a few minutes after 7 a.m. on Friday, June 1, 2018 — a couple of hours after the sun had risen and about an hour after a landscaping crew had mowed the lawn on the school grounds. Classes at the K-8 school got under way less than an hour later, after Keene allegedly hid Conley’s body in a clump of vegetation at the bottom of a wooded slope behind the school.

Roughly 20 of Conley’s family and friends, including her mother, Danielle Timoney, were in the courtroom Thursday as the video footage was played on multiple monitors. As on Wednesday, when gruesome photos of Conley’s body after she was killed were shown to the jury, Conley’s friends and relatives wept and hugged in silence as investigators described what jurors were seeing.

Keene maintains that he did not assault or kill Conley.

Keene’s defense attorneys, Dawn Corbett and Jeffrey Toothaker, did not hint at or offer any argument on Thursday for how Keene could be innocent of the charges despite the footage that appears to show him carrying Conley’s lifeless body behind the school and into the trees. If Keene takes the stand on Friday — which, after court ended Thursday, Corbett said he “most likely” will do — he presumably will offer an alibi when he testifies.

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According to prosecutors, after Keene hid Conley’s body, he went to Timoney’s house across Eden Street from the school to retrieve his cell phone, which he had left there hours earlier. When Timoney asked where Conley was, Keene said he last saw her on the school playground at 3:30 a.m. and that he would help try to locate her, prosecutors have said.

The only witness to testify Thursday in the trial was Maine State Police Detective Thomas Pickering, the primary investigator in the case. Most of Pickering’s testimony on Thursday was technical, explaining images captured on security cameras or how police collected evidence in the case.

Under cross examination by Toothaker, Pickering said that not all the pieces of evidence collected in the case were tested to see whose DNA might be on them.

Corbett and Toothaker have said that Keene admits to being on the school grounds and to having consensual sex with Conley the night she died, but they have suggested that someone else could have attacked and killed her and that police did not do enough to identify and rule out other suspects.

 



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