ELLSWORTH — A young woman who was raped and strangled had the defendant’s DNA under her fingernails, indicating they struggled before her death, a prosecutor told jurors Tuesday.

Mikaela Conley

Surveillance video shows a man whom authorities say is Jalique Keene dragging Mikaela Conley’s lifeless body. But the video and DNA evidence don’t prove that Keene, 21, is guilty of murder and gross sexual assault, the defense said.

“The state is asking you to look at facts that aren’t obvious and give it your best guess,” defense attorney Dawn Corbett told the jury during opening arguments. “Circumstantial evidence leads you to guessing.“There is a gap in time that the state can’t account for. There’s 3 or 4 hours the state can’t account for” in this case.

Keene’s murder trial got underway in Hancock County Superior Court with opening statements Tuesday morning.

Law enforcement officials say Keene raped, beat and strangled his 19-year-old former high school classmate within 18 hours of his return from Europe, where he played American-style football.

Keene and Conley both attended Mount Desert High School in Bar Harbor, where Keene was a running back on the football team. And Conley drove to Boston on May 31, 2018, to retrieve Keene and two others from Logan International Airport.


“When Mikaela left Bar Harbor that Thursday (May 31, 2018) she did not know she had less than 18 hours to live,” said Assistant Attorney General Megan Elam, one of the prosecutors.

Hours later, security video captured what was believed to be Keene and Conley on a school playground early on June 1, 2018.

The video showed the man carrying a woman over his shoulder as she resisted and kicked her legs. Hours later, after the sun came up, the man was seen dragging the woman toward the woods where Conley’s body was found.

Keene told police that the two had sex and that there was a physical altercation afterward. He told investigators he left and never saw her again.

Among those who testified Tuesday was Conley’s mother, Danielle Timoney of Bar Harbor, who said Keene had visited their home a few times before leaving for Serbia to play  football.

“He actually would come over and visit my son Alex and say hi to me,” said Timoney under questioning by Assistant Attorney General Megan Elam. “He baked cookies with us for Christmas.”


Conley’s step-father, Ernie Geiger of Ellsworth, testified about statements he overheard Keene make to others while friends and family as well as Mount Desert Island residents who didn’t know the young woman were out searching for her.

“He was telling us she had acted funny and had drank a lot,” said Geiger, referring to the night of May 31, after Mikaela picked up Keene from the airport.

Elam asked Geiger to describe Mikaela’s relationship with Keene.

“I knew he had an interest in her and she wasn’t interested in him, other than that, it was a friendship,” Geiger said.

An autopsy showed Conley died from blunt force trauma to her head and strangulation. Keene’s DNA was found under Conley’s fingernails and inside her body, prosecutors said.

Corbett said there’s a possibility someone else killed the victim. But Elam said Keene is the only possible person who could have committed the crime.

Ellsworth American reporter Jennifer Osborn contributed to this story.

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