Maine man found guilty of raping, murdering 19-year-old high school friend after video showed him dragging her body into trees
A Bar Harbor man charged with raping and killing his high school friend was found guilty of the charges this past week.
According to Bangor Daily News, 22-year-old Jalique Keene offered no reaction as a jury of six women and six men at the Hancock County Unified Criminal Court returned a verdict of guilty on counts of gross sexual assault and murder in connection to the June 2018 death of 19-year-old Mikaela Conley.
Conley was last seen alive on June 1 with searchers looking for her finding her battered body the following day concealed in a thicket of vegetation next to the Conners Emerson School in downtown Bar Harbor.
On the evening of June 4, police arrested Keene, who had known Conley since they attended Mount Desert Island High School together, in connection to the murder.
They said Conley had picked up the 22-year-old late in the day on May 31 at Logan Airport in Boston after he had returned from a trip to Europe, and that the rape and murder happened after they returned to Bar Harbor at around 1 am the next day.
Following their return, the pair reportedly walked to a playground at the school, which was just across the street from where Conley was living with her mother. This is where Keene attacked her, strangled her, raped her, and eventually murdered her.
The trial, which kicked off on May 20, saw the prosecution back their assertion that Keene was the culprit with harrowing video footage. They played the jury security camera footage of the 22-year-old dragging the victim's body in broad daylight into trees behind a building at the school.
The prosecution also played a second video that shows Keene headed back in the other direction without the body. In it, he could be seen stopping at a spigot along the back wall of the building, turning it on, and washing his hands, arms, shoes, and lower legs.
Taking to the stand in his defense, Keene, under cross-examination of Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam, repeatedly denied having any memory of what the camera had recorded. "I don’t remember washing anything, I don’t remember dragging anyone. I don’t remember this," he said several times.
He said he only had consensual sex with Conley and that, while she had become upset afterward, he did not rape her or kill her. He claimed did not remember the night because he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his traumatic and abusive childhood courtesy the beatings and punishment meted out on him by his birth father.
Psychologist Geoffrey Thorpe, who evaluated Keene after he was charged in Conley's death, conceded on the stand that the 22-year-old may be suffering from PTSD but also said he might be faking a loss of memory to avoid being held responsible for her death.
The evidence against him would prove too much for the jury to ignore, and John Alsop, a state prosecutor who handled the case, said he was not surprised at the verdict. "We think the evidence is very compelling," he said. "There was overwhelming evidence of his guilt."
Keene's lawyer's expressed their disappointment but said their client might appeal the verdict. He is likely to be sentenced for the charges in July.