ELLSWORTH, Maine — The man accused of murdering a 19-year-old Bar Harbor woman earlier this summer pleaded not guilty to the charges Wednesday.
Jalique Keene, 21, of Bar Harbor, will likely face a trial in late May if he does not make a plea deal, according to statements by court officials during his appearance at Hancock County Unified Criminal Court.
Keene is accused of sexually assaulting and killing Mikaela Conley of Bar Harbor at an elementary school playground early June 1. The killing shocked Bar Harbor, which is better known as a picturesque seasonal tourist destination near Acadia National Park.
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Keene was indicted Aug. 9 by a Hancock County grand jury on charges of gross sexual assault and murder. An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that enough evidence exists to proceed with formal charges.
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Keene and Conley had attended Mount Desert Island High School together, with Keene graduating two years ahead of Conley.
A former Mount Desert High running back who had finished playing football for an amateur team in Serbia, the Kraljevo Royal Crowns, in the weeks before his arrest, Keene towered over his attorneys during Wednesday’s arraignment.
Wearing a red jail-issued jumpsuit, Keene spoke only to answer Justice Robert Murray’s questions as to his plea. His hair was close-cropped and a tattoo was partly visible on his left arm.
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Behind him in the gallery were his and Conley’s family and friends. A victim’s rights advocate said after the appearance that the victim’s family had declined to comment on the proceedings.
His attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth, said he won’t know how the case shapes up until he receives the entire police investigation. So far he has received about half.
“We don’t have anything medical, we don’t have any DNA, we don’t have the autopsy, and we don’t have any of the videos,” Toothaker said Wednesday. “How do you prepare a case without knowing what they know?”
“This is fairly typical. They [prosecutors and police] are fairly busy,” Toothaker added.
Prosecutors and defenders will hold a pretrial conference Nov. 30.
If you or someone you know needs resources or support related to sexual violence, contact the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s 24/7 hotline at 1-800-871-7741.
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