A Portland man accused of killing his girlfriend in a hit-and-run in Acadia National Park last summer pleaded not guilty on Thursday.

Nicole Mokeme and Raymond Lester Facebook photo

Raymond Lester is charged with intentional or knowing murder in the death of Nicole Mokeme, of South Portland. He entered his plea during a brief hearing held over Zoom in Hancock County Superior Court.

Lester was accompanied by his attorney, Steve Juskewitch, and said little at the hearing other than to confirm his identity and enter his plea. The next scheduled court date is Jan. 13, 2023.

Lester was charged in June, after police said he struck and killed Mokeme with his BMW SUV during a retreat she had organized at Acadia National Park.

Several witnesses at the retreat told investigators that Lester was drunk the night before Mokeme was found dead. He was seen driving “dangerously fast” around the campgrounds, playing music and drinking, according to a federal affidavit from the U.S. Marshals Service.

Lester told one witness something to the effect that Mokeme “doesn’t like me anymore,” and at a group dinner that evening another witness said Lester “seemed pissed off.”


Mokeme walked away from a group fire pit around 10:30 p.m. to make a phone call, after it was believed Lester had left for the evening. Her body was discovered by Maine State Police and local law enforcement after a 911 call early on June 19, the affidavit said.

Nicole Mokeme was the founder of Rise and Shine Youth Retreat in Bowdoin. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Mokeme, 35, was the creative director of the Rise and Shine Youth Retreat, which offers wellness retreats and other programs for Black youths and adults, and had been dating Lester for about three years. An activist and organizer, she was involved in or helped found several community organizations. Mokeme also had an 11-year-old daughter.

Lester evaded police for nearly a month before he was arrested in Cancun, Mexico, on July 18.

His criminal record shows a history of domestic violence dating to 2008, when he was charged by Portland police with domestic violence assault. He pleaded guilty, paid a $300 fine and was sentenced to 22 days in jail, according to a statewide criminal history report.

Lester also was charged with domestic violence assault in 2010, and pleaded guilty, and again in 2011. The 2011 charge was upgraded to a felony because of his prior history, but he pleaded to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to six months in jail.

Between 2012 and 2021, Lester was arrested several times, for misuse of identification, drug possession, theft, disorderly conduct, refusing to submit to arrest, felony-level receiving stolen property and forgery. His longest sentence was to serve 21 days of a two-year suspended sentence followed by two years of probation. He is currently being held at the Hancock County Jail without bail.

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