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Man pleads not guilty to murder in death of girlfriend at Acadia National Park

Raymond Lester is charged with murder in the June death of 35-year-old Nicole Mokeme of South Portland.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Portland man pleaded not guilty on Thursday to murder in connection with the hit-and-run death of his girlfriend in Acadia National Park in June.

Raymond N. Lester, 35, entered the plea virtually in Hancock County Superior Court in Ellsworth.

Lester is accused of killing Nicole Mokeme of South Portland, who was working at Acadia at the time. Mokeme was the creative director of the Rise and Shine Youth Retreat. The organization aims to empower people of color.

Mokeme's body was found on a walking path near the  Schoodic Education and Research Center in Winter Harbor at about 6:20 a.m. on June 19. She had injuries to her back, right side, and chest and a broken femur, officials said.

Witnesses reported seeing Lester driving a black BMW SUV fast in the area and drinking vodka that night. One witness reported Lester "appeared drunk" and another reportedly told police Lester said Mokeme "doesn't like me anymore," Deputy U.S. Marshal Jesse Belanger said in an affidavit.

Detectives said black plastic found at the scene was from the SUV that hit Mokeme. Tire tracks lead from a parking lot across the road, between two trees, and onto the paved walking path where Mokeme's body was found.

Police said a black 2016 BMW SUV was registered to Lester.

Maine police were initially unable to locate Lester. U.S. Marshals arrested Lester in July in Cancun, Mexico.

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