September 17, 2019
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Bar Harbor man to be sentenced for raping, killing his high school friend

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 in May 2019.

A Bar Harbor man convicted this spring of raping and murdering a friend is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday in Ellsworth.

Jalique Keene, 22, was found guilty in the rape and beating death of Mikaela Conley, 19, on the grounds of a Bar Harbor elementary school on June 1, 2018. He is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Hancock County Courthouse in Ellsworth.

At his sentencing, Keene could face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 for gross sexual assault and an additional 25 years to life in prison for the killing.

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
A picture of Mikaela Conley on a screen during the fist day of Jalique Keene’s trial at the Hancock County Superior Court in Ellsworth in May 2019.

Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence on the murder conviction and a 30-year concurrent sentence on the rape conviction, according to the state attorney general’s office. Keene’s defense team has yet to submit a sentencing recommendation to the court, but attorneys Jeff Toothaker and Dawn Corbett plan to meet with Keene Monday evening to discuss what sentence they might suggest to the Justice Robert Murray, the judge who has been presiding over the case, Toothaker said.

At the end of a four-day trial in Ellsworth in May, a jury of six women and six men returned guilty verdicts against Keene on one count each of murder and gross sexual assault.

The conviction qualifies Keene for a life sentence under a 1990 state Supreme Court decision, State of Maine v. John Shortsleeves, that laid out seven conditions under which a judge may send a defendant to prison for life.

Those conditions are: premeditation; murder accompanied by torture, sexual abuse or other extreme cruelty; murder committed in a penal institution by an inmate; multiple victims; murder of a hostage; a previous murder conviction; or the murder of an on-duty law enforcement officer.

Keene had taken the stand in his own defense and, despite having been recorded by a school video camera dragging Conley’s apparently lifeless body across the school grounds, said that they had consensual sex and that he did not recall moving her body. He insisted he did not kill his friend.

Keene and Conley had attended Mount Desert Island High School together, with Keene graduating in 2015, when Conley was a sophomore.

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The killing shocked and alarmed Bar Harbor, which is better known as a picturesque seasonal tourist destination and gateway community to Acadia National Park. Between June 2, 2018, when searchers found Conley’s body, and the evening of June 4, when Keene was arrested, police released no information about whether they had any possible suspects or whether there might be any ongoing threat to the public.

The fact that Conley’s killer is a local resident who grew up in Bar Harbor and was friends with her further upset many local residents who knew both their families.

According to police, Conley had picked up Keene late on May 31, 2018, at Logan International Airport in Boston, as he returned from Europe after playing for a football team in Serbia. After they arrived in Bar Harbor around 1 a.m. on June 1, Keene and Conley walked to a playground at the school, which is across Eden Street from where Conley was living with her mother.

Conley was reported missing the next day, and Keene volunteered to help search for her, telling people they had parted company in the wee hours of the morning and that he was worried she may have fallen and hit her head somewhere on the shore by Bar Harbor’s downtown village.

Conley’s battered body was found June 2, 2018, in a thicket of vegetation next to the intersection of Route 3 and West Street, at the base of a hillside adjacent to the elementary school grounds.

 



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