Jalique Keene (right) confers with his attorney, Jeff Toothaker, at an earlier court appearance. FILE PHOTO

Murder suspect scheduled for settlement conference April 19

BAR HARBOR — A young man accused of raping and murdering 19-year-old Mikaela Conley last June is scheduled to meet with the Maine Attorney General’s Office April 19.

Jalique Keene, his attorney Jeff Toothaker and Assistant Attorney General John Alsop are scheduled to meet in Hancock County Superior Court chambers with Justice Bruce C. Mallonee for a “settlement conference.”

“It’s really an informal discussion with the defendant present and offers are discussed,” Toothaker said.

If the conference doesn’t yield a resolution, a trial is tentatively set for May 20.

Justice Robert Murray has been specially assigned to preside over the trial.

Justice Mallonee is handling the settlement conference because if the parties don’t come to a settlement, “we want the trial judge still neutral,” Toothaker said.

The defense attorney explained that lots of facts will be discussed at the settlement conference. Those facts may or may not come out if there is a trial.

“If there is a trial and a guilty verdict, we only want trial facts to influence any sentencing decision,” Toothaker said.

Keene pleaded not guilty at his arraignment last September to charges of murder and gross sexual assault.

Conley’s body was found on a wooded hillside near the intersection of Route 3 and West Street in Bar Harbor on June 2.

The State Medical Examiner’s Office said Conley died of “blunt force trauma and strangulation.”

Police said on the afternoon of May 31, Conley drove to Boston to pick up Keene and another person at the airport, according to an affidavit filed by the investigating officer, Maine State Police Detective Tom Pickering.

They returned to Bar Harbor and “he stayed with her into the early morning hours at her home and in the vicinity,” the detective stated.

Conley had been missing since the early morning hours of June 1, when she was last seen at home by her mother.

Pickering arrested Keene on June 4.

The detective described what he had seen in footage from the security cameras at Conners Emerson School, whose playground abuts the wooded area where the body was found.

“I … observed at 3:36 a.m. a male appearing to be Jalique appear at [the side of a person appearing to be Conley] and after some sort of interaction, he is seen picking her up over his shoulder and walking off with her as she is kicking with her feet,” Pickering stated.

In footage from the same camera, Keene reappears around 7 a.m., dragging an apparently lifeless body toward the area where the body was later found, according to the affidavit.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.

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