ELLSWORTH — Through tears, Stephanie Kornegay read an old letter that her daughter had written in 2021, promising to break up with her boyfriend after watching him assault another man in a fit of jealousy.

Nicole Mokeme Photo courtesy of Stephanie Kornegay

“My human self feels sad because I love Raymond,” Nicole Mokeme had written. “He’s my best friend. I know the real him. … I see a bad spirit on him that only he can rebuke.”

On Thursday, Mokeme’s boyfriend – Raymond Lester – was sentenced to 48 years in prison for killing her.

Lester, 37, was convicted of murder in November. Police say Lester hit Mokeme with his car in June 2022, leaving her for dead at Acadia National Park, where the two were participating in a retreat Mokeme organized. Lester immediately fled to Mexico where he showed up at a Red Cross station in Cancun a month later saying he had been robbed, and admitted to local police that he was wanted in the United States, prosecutors said. Police still haven’t found the car.

“Raymond Lester ran over my daughter with his vehicle, left her broken body there to die as if she were an animal,” Kornegay said during Lester’s sentencing in Hancock County Superior Court.

During his nearly weeklong trial, Lester offered no witnesses or specific responses to the state’s allegations. His attorneys focused more on what they said were shortcomings in the investigation against Lester.


Lester did not address the court Thursday. His attorneys, who declined to comment after the hearing, said in court records that Lester had a difficult childhood and struggled with substance use disorder and mental health. They said Lester plans to appeal the verdict.

Stephanie Kornegay, left and Oscar Mokeme, Nicole Mokeme’s parents, listen as family members speak to the media Thursday outside of Hancock County Superior Court in Ellsworth after Raymond Lester was sentenced to 48 years in prison. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Prosecutors argued Lester – who has a lengthy history of domestic violence against several women – was a premeditated killer who took advantage of Mokeme’s goodwill and trust and should serve 60 years.

“She tragically, once again, tried to heal the darkness in this man, and it costed her her life in a very tragic manner,” Assistant Attorney General Bud Ellis said in court.

They said they were shocked that Lester had been given a deferred disposition deal for the 2021 incident Mokeme had described in the letter her mother read Thursday. Just a year before Mokeme’s death, Lester had flipped a table at a man in Lincoln County during another youth retreat Mokeme was leading. He was charged with misdemeanor assault and agreed to a year of mental health counseling and other bail conditions. Natasha Irving, the district attorney for Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Knox and Waldo counties, said he was still under those conditions when Mokeme was killed.

State prosecutors said Thursday that they were surprised this was an option for Lester, given his criminal history. But based on the facts of the case, Irving said simple assault was the highest charge her office could pursue and the deal was better than having him only serve a few days behind bars.

“Obviously, in the end, that didn’t help, having that mental health treatment,” Irving said.



Mokeme’s family said Thursday that Lester had betrayed their trust and deprived them of a daughter, sister, mother and friend. They said he also had deprived a community – Mokeme oversaw several groups and events focused on supporting Maine’s Black community and connecting with the Earth. That included the Rise and Shine Youth Retreat in Bowdoin, which hosted weekend getaways for young teens of color and later expanded to a farm and retreat in Bowdoin.

“We didn’t just lose a person,” Mokeme’s brother Victor Davis said in court Thursday. “We lost an entity. We lost a light in this world.”

Victor Davis, Nicole Mokeme’s brother, comforts his mother, Stephanie Kornegay, as she speaks during the sentencing hearing for her daughter’s killer, Raymond Lester. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Mokeme’s family and friends filled the front row of the Ellsworth courtroom Thursday. One by one, they approached a podium where they placed pictures of Mokeme and asked Superior Justice Robert Murray for the most severe sentence possible.

“For someone to do this is really hurtful,” said Delaney Tucker, Mokeme’s young daughter. “I shouldn’t have to be in here, fighting for my mom’s justice, at 13. No 11-year-old girl should have to lose her mother to murder.”

Tucker and her half-sister Dahliya, whose father was Mokeme’s ex-husband, said Mokeme was more than a motherly figure – she was their best friend and fiercest advocate.


Mokeme loved to play dress up and do photo shoots, Dahliya Tucker said. Mokeme would spend hours helping Tucker with her hair, “with no complaints but rather, compliments.” After Mokeme separated from Tucker’s father, she continued to treat Dahliya as a daughter, driving more than two hours to help her move in for college.

“The defendant has taken a lot from me,” Dahliya Tucker said. “But he’s also given me a lot. He’s given me reoccurring nightmares. He’s given me distrust for men. He’s given me crippling anxiety.”


As Mokeme’s family and friends addressed Murray, Lester sat feet in front of them, staring ahead. His eyes welled with tears as Mokeme’s mother read her letter, lambasting his lack of remorse.

Raymond Lester listens as Nicole Mokeme’s mother, Stephanie Kornegay, speaks about her daughter during Lester’s sentencing Thursday in Hancock County Superior Court in Ellsworth. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“Nicole sacrificed everything to help others,” Kornegay said. “Nicole believed her sole purpose was to heal others, and she believed there was good in everyone. She saw darkness in Lester and thought she could heal it. … I only wish my daughter Nicole would see the same as I see. And she would be here, with me, and I would not be standing here before you.”

Mokeme’s family said after the hearing that they were a little disappointed the sentence wasn’t longer – but that no amount of time would bring back Mokeme.

They hope Lester’s sentence and coverage of their daughter’s murder will raise awareness about domestic violence – what it looks like and how it can be prevented.

“I wish one of her friends that were there would’ve stood up,” Davis, her brother, said. “They saw his behaviors in the past, they saw his behaviors constantly over the years, things we didn’t even know and things that didn’t come out until after her death.”

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