ELLSWORTH — During a second day of testimony, family and friends of Mikaela Conley gasped at the image of the dead woman’s bloodied face in a crime scene photo presented as evidence at Jalique Keene’s murder trial.
More than two dozen people were in the courtroom gallery Wednesday to support Conley’s family.
Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam is prosecuting the case against Keene, 22, of Bar Harbor. She is teamed with Assistant Attorney General John Alsop.
Keene also is being tried on one count of gross sexual assault.
After a morning break, Elam advised the woman’s friends and family that Medical Examiner Margaret Greenwald would be next to testify. Greenwald’s testimony, Elam said, would include autopsy photos and supporters might want to leave before that part of the trial began.
The photo of the Bar Harbor woman’s face was part of Maine State Police Det. Sgt Scott Bryant’s testimony. Bryant is commander of the Maine State Police Evidence Response Team and an internationally certified crime scene analyst.
The commander testified that he, Maine Game Warden Dave Simmons and Maine State Police Sgt. Jason Richards unearthed Conley’s body, which had been buried beneath sticks and twigs and Japanese knotweed. That was June 2, 2018.
Maine State Police Cpl. Christopher E. Smith and his police dog Winger had located Conley’s body on the grounds of the Connors Emerson School.
“You could see the left hand and you could see some clothing but you couldn’t really see the body at all,” Bryant told prosecutor Alsop.
Bryant testified that Greenwald, the medical examiner, had given officers permission to remove Conley’s body and transport it to Augusta for autopsy.
Before that happened, Bryant said he went up the ladder of the Bar Harbor Fire Department ladder truck, which was on scene, to shoot aerial photos of the body.
Despite Elam’s caution about the graphic nature of what the state would present with Greenwald, most stayed.
The medical examiner said she had listed two causes of death for Conley: blunt force trauma to the head and strangulation. Greenwald testified she can’t be sure which was the ultimate cause.
The state presented photos of Conley’s bruised and abraded body from head to toes.
Conley’s feet, calves and knees were bruised. Bruises were seen on the inside of her arms and on her back and on the top of her hips as well as both sides of her neck.
The state presented diagrams of a vagina and anus for Greenwald to refer to in discussing those injuries.
“Did you find injury in Mikaela’s body when you did an internal exam?” Elam asked.
“I did,” Greenwald replied. The medical examiner testified that Conley had been injured in the anal area.
“There were no injuries to Mikaela’s vagina,” Greenwald testified.
“Did the injuries occur before or after Mikaela’s death” Elam asked.
“The redness indicates Mikaela’s heart was pumping at least a little and was alive,” Greenwald said.
Keene’s defense attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker, questioned Greenwald about whether Conley’s injuries were consistent with “fighting someone off.”
“Certainly some of the bruises could have been defense,” Greenwald said.
“There would have been injuries to the other person, wouldn’t there?” the defense asked. Greenwald said she wasn’t sure.
Toothaker asked about the injuries to Conley’s anus.
“You don’t know how it happened, just something caused it to stretch?” Toothaker asked.
“It was forceful penetration,” Greenwald replied.
On recross of Greenwald, Elam asked the doctor if Conley’s assailant could have “escaped relatively unscathed if her assailant was larger and more sober?”
“Yes,” Greenwald said.
The state is expected to continue its case Thursday.
Keene has pleaded not guilty. He and Conley, 19, grew up together in Bar Harbor. On May 31, 2018, the last day Conley was seen alive, she had gone to Logan International Airport in Boston to pick him and a couple other friends up to drive them back to Maine.
The two had hung out at the Connors Emerson Elementary School playground in the wee hours of June 1, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed by lead investigator Maine State Police Det. Tom Pickering. Keene told authorities he and Conley argued and were supposed to meet on the shore path in Bar Harbor at 4 a.m. but she never turned up.
Conley’s body was found June 2 on the school grounds after a community wide search.