PORTLAND — The state Supreme Court upheld the conviction and sentence of Jalique Keene, the Bar Harbor man convicted of the 2018 rape and murder of Mikaela Conley.
The justices heard arguments at a brief hearing on the appeal July 16 and issued a decision Aug. 6. They affirmed the Hancock County Superior Court conviction of “intentional or knowing or depraved indifference murder” and gross sexual assault and the sentence of 58 years plus restitution up to $15,000.
“Viewed in the light most favorable to the State, there is sufficient competent evidence in the record on which a jury reasonably could find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Keene committed each element of both crimes,” the decision states.
Conley’s body was found in the woods in Bar Harbor June 2, 2018. She died from strangulation and blunt force trauma, according to the state medical examiner. She had spent the evening of May 31-June 1 with Keene, with whom she was friends. Footage from security cameras at Conners Emerson School shows the two together several times in the overnight hours. The footage also shows him carrying her off the playground and later washing himself off at a spigot.
Keene argued on appeal that the trial should have been moved out of Hancock County. There was extensive discussion at the hearing about the fact that Keene never officially moved for a change of venue and that no record exists of some of the pretrial conferences at which the subject was discussed.
“The trial court made a material error by failing to put on record what the parties’ conversations were concerning change of venue,” Lawrence Winger, representing Keene in the appeal, said at the hearing. The justices said the obligation of creating such a record and having it approved is on the appellant.
The justices also upheld the sentencing in the case.
“As it was obligated to do, the court thoughtfully established the basic sentence based on its objective consideration of the nature and seriousness of the crime and then determined the maximum period of incarceration — a term of years rather than the life sentence that the court might have imposed — by evaluating appropriate aggravating and mitigating factors.”
Those factors were discussed at the hearing: aggravating factors included extreme cruelty, impacts to the victim’s family and failure to acknowledge the crime. Keene’s youth and “mental condition” were cited as mitigating factors.
Keene is serving his sentence at the Maine State Prison in Warren.