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Prosecutors: Strangled woman had defendant’s DNA on her

May 21, 2019
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Jalique Keene, center, with his attorneys Jeffrey Toothaker, left, and Dawn Corbett during the first day of his trial, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, at the Hancock County Superior Court in Ellsworth, Maine, Tuesday. Keene is accused of killing Mikaela Conley in Bar Harbor, Maine, in 2018. (Gabor Degre/The Bangor Daily News via AP)

ELLSWORTH, Maine (AP) — 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.

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.

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, where Keene was a running back. And Conley drove to Boston on May 31, 2018, to retrieve Keene and two others from Boston International Airport.

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.

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.

Defense attorney Dawn Corbett said there’s a possibility someone else killed the victim. But Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam said Keene is the only possible person who could have committed the crime.

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This story has been corrected to show that the defense attorney’s name is Dawn Corbett, not Dawn Corbitt.

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