Trial and Error

The Outcry for Justice in the Dennis Dechaine Case

Letters to the Editor - Trial and Error - Dennis Dechaine

Dechaine’s fate was caused by fixation on conviction

Apr 19, 2015

Portland Press Herald

Posted

Letter to the editor: Dechaine’s fate was caused by a fixation on conviction

I learned recently of an Alabama man named Anthony Ray Hinton who was exonerated of murder and released from prison after 30 years. Aside from obvious differences, there were comments on that case that reminded me of the Dennis Dechaine case in Maine.

One of Hinton’s lawyers, Bryan Stevenson, told The New York Times, “We’ve gotten into a culture where the pressure to convict and to achieve these outcomes is so great that owning up to mistakes is less frequent than you’d like to imagine.” That certainly was a factor in Dechaine’s conviction.

Read more: Dechaine’s...

Judge oblivious to progress of science in application of justice

Apr 26, 2014

Kennebec Journal / Morning Sentinel  www.centralmaine.com

Judge oblivious to progress of science in application of justice

Once again Dennis Dechaine has been victimized by Judge Carl Bradford. The retired active justice remains very much in character, wrapped in an aura of infallibility, oblivious to the progress of science in the application of justice.

At the 1989 trial that resulted in Dechaine’s conviction for the murder of Sarah Cherry, Bradford denied Dechaine’s request for DNA testing, saying that the testing was not reliable. For his information, more than 300 inmates have been exonerated over the past three decades because of DNA findings just through the Innocence Project.

Read more: Judge...

Former AG Jon Lund’s Letter to the Editor

Oct 3, 2012

Below are two letters to the editor written by Jon Lund, Maine’s first full-time Attorney General and former Chair of the Maine Criminal Law Review Commission. His 2008 letter (at bottom) was ignored by the media.  His latest, written since the discovery of additional DNA evidence, appeared in the Kennebec Journal on October 2, 2012.

October 2, 2012 at 12:00 AM

AG should take fresh look at Dechaine case

Read more: Former AG Jon...

From a childhood friend

Jun 21, 2012

Summertime blues

Bangor Daily News, June 20, 2012
This summer I am vacationing in Maine. I am particularly anxious and incensed this time, as Dennis Dechaine gets his hearing to review DNA evidence from Sarah Cherry. Dennis’ integrity is obvious, due to the wide support for and visibility of his case. I want as many people as possible to know him, and believe we all need Dennis on the outside, healing, contributing to our society, and standing as a beacon of hope for innocent convicts.

Dennis and I began our friendship during childhood. We met again in 1979 when we attended Western Washington University together. Dennis was an avid bicyclist, hiker, explorer, forager and gardener. He was also the person I trusted the most when I needed advice or comfort. Dennis is a true gentleman … and was best man at my wedding.

Read more: From a...

State still denies evidence that might clear Dechaine

Jun 8, 2012

It has been 24 years and the state is still denying evidence that could help clear Dennis Deschaine.

What are they scared of? Isn’t it worth their peace of mind or do they have no conscience? Are they afraid of what people will say about them? Is their pride more important then someone’s life?

Why would anyone deny this after all these years, a guilty person would give up.

Look how many innocent people have been jailed.

All we ask is that they give him a fair chance.

Charlotte Beasley

Richmond

DNA findings

May 11, 2012

Portland Press Herald 5-11-12

In the case the state of Maine built against Dennis Dechaine, they claim their investigation and collection of evidence were done with pristine care — well, all except for one piece, and in my humble opinion it is the most crucial of all.

The state claims they used dirty nail clippers when collecting the fingernails from Sarah Cherry. I’m amazed that the only thing that they’ll admit they might have messed up on was the clippers used to remove nails that contain the blood of two people, Sarah and that of an unknown male.

Read more: DNA findings

Reader hopes for justice in Sarah Cherry case

Apr 29, 2012

Portland Press Herald 4-29-12

I’m going to begin this letter to the editor by congratulating and thanking Superior Court Justice Carl O. Bradford. It is a positive step when on May 23, Bradford will hear oral arguments in regard to pending DNA evidence in the death of Sarah Cherry.

The congratulations are in order because I want to believe: that this Maine justice during his tenure on the bench has always striven to do right by the law and those suffering an injustice. I have no reason to believe otherwise about this public official.

Read more: Reader hopes...

Texan’s exoneration stirs thoughts of Dechaine case

Apr 17, 2012

Portland Press Herald 4-17-12

It was heartening to read a Los Angeles Times story in the April 7 edition of the Press Herald announcing that another innocent person has been exonerated, although it came after he served many years of a 99-year sentence for a purse snatching that he did not commit.

Credit goes to Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins for having the fortitude to start a Conviction Integrity Unit to investigate wrongful convictions.

One of the reasons he cited for exonerating Darryl Washington was “evidence prosecutors failed to turn over to defense attorneys.” His patience had worn thin because “we have a responsibility, and that’s to seek justice.”

Read more: Texan’s...

Forensic Experts Find Innocence

Apr 11, 2012

By Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D.

The many recent exonerations of wrongfully convicted persons because of improved scientific forensic tools have exposed flawed judicial systems nationwide.

Too often the prime focus of courts is on a strict adherence to legal procedures that stifle the search for the truth. As a result, a number of state courts now accept overriding pleas of “actual innocence.” Regrettably, Maine Superior Court Justice Carl Bradford, in a 2011 ruling, denied a claim of actual innocence entered during a preliminary hearing on Dennis Dechaine’s 2008 motion for a retrial. In 2009, famed trial lawyer F. Lee Bailey, after mounting a pro bono investigation of the Dechaine case, concluded that Dechaine was innocent. Forensic pathologist Dr. Walter Hofman and I were consulted concerning the critical issue of time-of-death.

Read more: Forensic...

Was cause of justice served by judge’s ruling?

Apr 11, 2012

KJ Online Article: Was cause of justice served by judge’s ruling?

The many recent exonerations of wrongfully convicted persons because of improved scientific forensic tools have exposed flawed judicial systems nationwide.

Too often the prime focus of courts is on a strict adherence to legal procedures that stifle the search for the truth. As a result, a number of state courts now accept overriding pleas of “actual innocence.” Regrettably, Maine Superior Court Justice Carl Bradford, in a 2011 ruling, denied a claim of actual innocence entered during a preliminary hearing on Dennis Dechaine’s 2008 motion for a retrial.

In 2009, famed trial lawyer F. Lee Bailey, after mounting a pro bono investigation of the Dechaine case, concluded that Dechaine was innocent. Forensic pathologist Dr. Walter Hofman and I were consulted concerning the critical issue of time-of-death.

Read more: Was cause of...

Maine is not immune to miscarriages of justice

Oct 22, 2011

Portland Press Herald

There has been a lot of public outcry over the state of Georgia putting a man to death when there were many indications that he was, in fact, innocent.

That can’t happen here, right? Because we don’t have the death penalty, right?

But Dennis Dechaine is serving a life sentence for a crime that he didn’t commit.

Among other exculpatory evidence, such as time of death, false testimony by detectives and lack of any physical evidence that the victim was in Dechaine’s truck, there was male DNA under 12-year-old Sarah Cherry’s fingernails that does not match Dechaine’s (or that of anyone involved with the case).

Read more: Maine is not...

Maine’s justice system makes Italy’s look fair

Oct 12, 2011

Maine sunday Tele, Portland Press Hereld, Kennebec Journal

In Italy, prosecutors, seemingly on leave from a comic opera, insisted that “she-devil” Amanda Knox was guilty of murder no matter what science and common sense indicated. It took four years for justice to prevail. In Maine, supposedly a land of sober Yankee rectitude, Dennis Dechaine has been denied a retrial for more than 20 years, despite the fact that 100 percent of the scientific evidence supports his claim of innocence. With the discovery that the damning testimony of two detectives contradicted their original notes, the state’s “mountain of evidence” is revealed to be a hollow shell. That a second jury, if allowed to hear all the evidence, would again find Dechaine guilty, is all but inconceivable. That an innocent man may have been imprisoned until death for the unspeakable crime of a psychopath who, in effect, has enjoyed the protection of the state, should impel our attorney general to seek the truth, not to try to bury it. Compared to Maine’s, the Italian system of justice appears to be a shining model of efficiency, transparency, and fairness. Who would have guessed!

William Bunting

Whitefield

Read the Book

hs2cover

Human Sacrifice: On the Altar of Injustice
Soft-cover edition
available at www.amazon.com $15
Kindle edition for download now $4.99

State Secrets

state secrets

What the jury didn’t know
Download now for free
Also now included in Human Sacrifice