Jalique Keene (right) listens with his defense attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker, as Stacey Crowley, a friend of murder victim Mikaela Conley, addresses the Hancock County Superior Court Wednesday morning at Keene’s sentencing hearing. Crowley spoke about how much the young woman made a difference in her life. Security was tight during the hearing with Keene flanked by both Hancock County Sheriff's Deputy Luke Gross (inset) as well as jail corrections officers. There were more officers stationed throughout the courtroom. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN

Keene sentenced to 58 years for murder

ELLSWORTH — Jalique Keene, 22, the man convicted of raping and killing former classmate Mikaela Conley, was sentenced Wednesday to 58 years in prison.

Justice Robert Murray issued his ruling after a couple hours of statements from Conley’s family and friends and prosecutors. Murray also presided over Keene’s jury trial in May.

In addition to the 58-year sentence on the murder charge, Murray also ordered a concurrent 30-year sentence for Keene’s rape conviction as well as a $15,000 fine.

Conley, the young Bar Harbor woman who died at age 19 at the hands of Keene, a former classmate, was truly loved if the sentencing hearing is any indication.

More than 45 friends and family members crammed into the courtroom gallery for the sentencing.

The hearing, which lasted well over three hours, included a slideshow of photos taken during Conley’s life. At least nine of her friends and family addressed the court.

Kiana Baranowski, best friend of Conley’s mother, Danielle Timoney, recalled her fear during the search for Conley after the young woman went missing May 31, 2018.

“A teenage girl does not leave her shoes and cell phone behind,” Baranowski said.

Mikaela Conley

“He [Keene] stood there fidgeting and restless as he lied,” Baranowski said. “I felt so scared to start looking for her but I hung on to hope.

“Then the call came. The families needed to meet at Danielle’s with the detectives.”

“’We found her body,’” Baranowski recalled police saying.

Conley’s body was found June 2, 2018 near Conners Emerson School in Bar Harbor.

“I watched my best friend, her mother, die in that moment,” Baranowski said.

“The screams, the wailing, the look of agony on everyone’s face still haunts me to this day.”

“Her last moments were brutal and terrifying,” Baranowski said of the young woman she watched grow up and loved as one of her own children.

“We may never know why he did this to her,” Baranowski said. “Now we sit here waiting to find out the value of Mikaela’s life. She deserves justice and I hope he receives the maximum sentence for his actions.”

“Mikaela, we are standing here united in our voices, advocating for you,” Baranowski said.

Before Conley’s loved ones spoke, Assistant Attorney General Megan Elam argued that Keene should spend life in prison.

Elam cited Keene’s lack of remorse, refusal to take responsibility and the brutal nature of the crimes.

“This murder was committed with extreme and prolonged cruelty,” Elam said.

The prosecutor listed over 40 separate injuries on Conley’s body.

Elam described the crimes as “outrageous, revolting and savage. It was brutal.”

“The evidence that shows how hard she fought for her life, though she was no match for the force against her,” Elam told the judge. “She tried to pry the defendant’s hands from her tiny neck as he choked the life out of her. His DNA was underneath her fingernails.”

Elam said there are mitigating factors, such as Keene’s youth and demonstrated childhood abuse history.

“He is a narcissist,” Elam said. “It is always all about him. Even in a case when he murdered his best friend, he can’t help but frame himself as a victim.”

Keene addressed the court before the judge imposed sentencing.

“You can hate me,” Keene said. “You’ll never hate me as much as I hate myself.

Keene, a Lewiston native, was adopted when he was a child by the Keene family from Bar Harbor.

His birth mother addressed the court, as did adopted mother Barbara Keene.

“My son has had to face that his life will never be the same,” said Keene’s birth mother, Chrystal Jordan. “I cannot imagine losing any of my children. I’m so sorry we are here today. I have no words to explain why this had to happen.”

Barbara Keene said, “None of us know for certain everything that happened. All we know for certain is this is not the sum total of who he is.”

The Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit investigated the homicide, led by Detective Tom Pickering.

The state’s evidence included footage from a security camera at the Conners Emerson School, near where Mikaela’s body was found on June 2, 2018. The footage shows Keene dragging the young woman’s lifeless body to a wooded area.

Defense attorneys Jeffrey Toothaker and Dawn Corbett represented Keene.

The defense argued during the May trial that the state’s case was largely circumstantial.

Johanna S. Billings also contributed reporting to this article.

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.
Jennifer Osborn

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