Jalique Keene murder trial begins in Ellsworth

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ELLSWORTH, Maine (WABI) - The body of 19-year-old Mikaela Conley was found behind the elementary school playground in Bar Harbor last June.

Tuesday, the trial of the man who police believe raped and killed her started in Ellsworth.

According to prosecutors, 21-year-old Jalique Keene killed his friend just hours after she picked him up at the airport in Boston and the two spent time hanging out and drinking with friends.

The key piece of evidence is video from security cameras at the school from 7 in the morning.

Prosecutors say it shows Keene dragging Conley's body across the playground.

As her toes dragged behind him across the pavement, her lifeless head flopped, her hair swayed, and her body bounced as he dragged her along," recounted Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam in the courtroom during her opening statements. "He dragged her toward an opening in the fence which surrounds the school and then went off camera."

Keene was off camera for 27 minutes which is when police believe he disposed of the body. Later that morning, prosecutors say he returned to Mikaela's house where they'd been the night before to get his phone and wallet.

"Went to the home of Mikaela's mother and assured her that he would help find Mikaela. He, the defendant, Jalique Keene, pretended to look for Mikaela when he already knew where her dead body lay."

Keene's defense attorneys admit their client was with Conley that night and agree there is evidence linking the two together, but when it comes to how she died, they believe all of the evidence pointing to Keene is circumstanial.

"They don't have any direct proof as to how she died or who did that to her," said Dawn Corbett. "They want you to infer that because Mr. Keene was with her on the playground that he was the one that caused the death of Miss Conley. They don't have the direct evidence they tell you they have regarding that."

"He, the defendant, Jalique Keene, was the only other person on the playground that night," said Assistant AG Elam. "He, Jalique Keene, left his DNA, and only his DNA was discovered under her fingernails and in her genitals."

"There's other evidence that we will show as the defense counsel in this case that wasn't tested and wasn't looked at," said Corbett. "Mr. Pickering and his crew of detectives figured out who they wanted to be the person in this case who committed this crime and went with that and didn't follow up on any other leads."

The trial is expected to take all week, and the attorneys were unsure if Keene would take the stand to testify in his own defense.