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A Bar Harbor man convicted this spring of raping and murdering a friend will spend 58 years in prison for the crimes.
Jalique Keene, 22, was found guilty this past spring in the rape and beating death of Mikaela Conley, 19, on the grounds of a Bar Harbor elementary school on June 1, 2018.
He will spend 58 years behind bars for the murder conviction and concurrently serve a 30-year sentence on the charge of gross sexual assault under a sentence passed down Wednesday by Superior Court Justice Robert Murray. Prosecutors had requested a life sentence in addition to a 30-year concurrent sentence for the gross sexual assault charge. Keene’s defense attorneys recommended a sentence of 50 years.
Murray passed down the sentence during an emotional hearing in which several of Conley’s close friends and family told the judge about her vibrant personality and the close, supporting relationships she had with her friends and family. Keene also addressed the court, telling the judge that, though he accepted responsibility for Conley’s death, he continued to deny that he was the one who killed her.
Three mothers spoke at Keene’s sentencing Wednesday in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court in Ellsworth — Conley’s mother, Keene’s adoptive mother and his birth mother. Conley’s mother, Danielle Timoney, addressed the court ahead of the other two, but after several of Conley’s close friends and a stepsister addressed the court.
“She told me how much she loved her childhood,” Timoney said, even though Conley’s biological father died when she was only 4. “Her heart was enormous, always seeking out new adventures.”
Timoney said that Conley’s brutal death has forever scarred her family and their close friends. She said she constantly revisits the trust she put in Keene, who had been one of her daughter’s good friends.
“We seem incapable of doing much anymore,” she said. “[My thoughts are] a cyclone of ‘what-ifs’ and hows.’ I am beyond broken. I am broken beyond repair without my girl. This is my life sentence. Jalique Keene has broken our family.”
Roughly 50 of Conley’s relatives and friends crowded into the courtroom sniffled and wept as Timoney spoke in a clear voice.
On the other side of the courtroom, a smaller group of Keene’s family and friends wore black t-shirts with a large photo of Keene that said “We all love you” in white letters.
Keene and Conley had attended Mount Desert Island High School together, with Keene graduating in 2015 when Conley was a sophomore.
According to police, Conley had picked up Keene late 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. June 1, Keene and Conley walked to a playground at the Conners-Emerson 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 Conners-Emerson School.
Barbara Keene, Jalique Keene’s adoptive mother, told Murray that Conley’s rape and murder and Keene’s conviction for the crimes have had “a devastating effect on two families and has shaken an entire community.” She said that what happened to Conley was a tragedy, amplified by the fact that it came at the hands of a close friend she had trusted.
But, she added, her adopted son’s conviction for raping and murdering Conley “is not the sum total of who he is.”
Christie Jordan, Keene’s biological mother, told Murray that Keene was the second of her seven children, and that they reconnected in 2010.
“I can’t imagine losing any of my children,” Jordan said, adding that two of them are daughters. “I am so sorry we are here today.”
Keene also addressed the court, saying he bore responsibility for Conley’s death but still denying that he killed her. At his trial, Keene claimed they had consensual sex but then parted company. He claimed to have no recollection of moving her apparently lifeless body — which a school security camera recorded on video — and that he must have moved her body after an unknown assailant had beaten her.
He said he is willing to be hated and caged like an animal if it makes Conley’s family feel better and claimed to have attempted suicide more than 100 times.
“You’ll never hate me more than I hate myself,” Keene said quietly as he stood facing the judge. “I would never intentionally hurt one of my friends.”
Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam, the prosecutor in the case, said Keene was a “narcissist” and a “devious and self-absorbed killer.” She said Keene has shown a repeated pattern of antisocial behavior, dating back to burglary and thefts when he was a teenager, and has never taken any responsibility for his actions.
“He’s too busy feeling sorry for himself,” Elam told the judge. “There is no honor in Jalique Keene. He has been committing crimes for years and hurting others in the process.”
In sentencing Keene, Murray said that Keene’s relatively young age and that he suffered significant mental and physical abuse as a young child were mitigating factors in the case. But he added the suffering Conley experienced in being raped and beaten, and Keene’s continued denial that he killed her, “significantly” outweigh those mitigating factors.
The judge noted that mere minutes after Keene was recorded on a school security camera using an outdoor spigot to wash his hands and feet, he went to Timoney’s house to retrieve his phone. He had just hidden Conley’s body, but claimed at his trial to have no memory either of hiding it or of washing himself at the spigot. But he did remember talking to Timoney and telling her that he did not know where Conley was.
“He remembered that, and it was 10 minutes later,” the judge said.
Keene’s attorneys, Jeff Toothaker and Dawn Corbett, declined to comment after the sentencing, other than Toothaker saying that Keene was worried he would get a life sentence.
Elam could not be reached for additional comment after the sentencing was over.