Trial and Error

The Outcry for Justice in the Dennis Dechaine Case

News Articles - Trial and Error - Dennis Dechaine

Beyond a reasonable doubt?

Dennis age 58Accumulating evidence in Dechaine murder case raises questions

Getting this evidence admitted is another story

By Jordan Bailey | Courier Publications | Jul 14, 2016

This is the first of a three-part series. Part 2 will look at the legal options available in this case. In Part 3, we will publish an interview with Dennis Dechaine himself.

In perhaps the most notorious criminal case in Maine history, then-31-year-old Bowdoinham farmer Dennis Dechaine was convicted in 1989 of the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry of Bowdoin.

Read more: Beyond a...

Destruction of DNA evidence an obstacle to new trial for Dechaine

By Jordan Bailey | Courier Publications | Jul 21, 2016 

This is the second article in a three-part series. Next week, hear from the man at the center of this story. For Part 1, "Accumulating evidence in Dechaine murder case raises questions," visit knox.villagesoup.com.
Please see clarifications at the end of this article.

After conviction at trial, a person has a few narrow avenues for getting his case re-examined. Maine's criminal procedure allows convicts to appeal the decision and ask for a new trial within two weeks of the verdict or within two years of the judgment if there is newly discovered evidence. After that, only two options exist: They must show the judgment was illegal or prove that they are innocent based on DNA testing.

For Dennis Dechaine, now in his 28th year in prison after being convicted of the 1988 murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry, the possibility of getting a new trial has been made increasingly difficult by obstacles the state has introduced, most notably the destruction of DNA evidence, including semen found on the girl, before it could be tested. The only evidence that remained was not enough, in the opinion of the courts, to justify a new trial.

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A conversation with Dennis Dechaine

By Jordan Bailey | Courier Publications | Jul 28, 2016

Warren — In this final part of a three-part series, we interview Dennis Dechaine at Maine State Prison, where he has served 28 years of a life sentence for a crime he says he didn't commit. The interview took place June 10.
Please see clarifications at the end of this article.

You've had so many denials of your appeals to have your case retried, and you are about to file another federal petition. How do you maintain hope after all these years?

I have my ups and downs. There are times when I like to think that I can choose the hour of my departure because I get so disheartened by the whole process. There are other times when I feel that I can do this for years on end. The bottom line is, I find meaning in my life through my relationships. I have a great number of friends. I've met hundreds of new friends since I've come to prison, and I'm talking about people from the street. At one time I had hundreds of people on my visiting list. I have fewer now; they revamped the system. But I get a lot of visits. I spend a lot of time on the telephone to my family. So I'm very close to my family, and they're very supportive of me and will do anything for me and, you know, I come from a wonderful family.

Read more: A...

EDITORIAL – Courier-Gazette

Dechaine's case highlights need for more reform

Jul 28, 2016

Please see clarifications at the end of this article.

This week we end our series on the case of Dennis Dechaine, who was convicted in 1989 for the murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry. Without solid proof either way, his story forces us to consider the possibility of wrongful conviction.

Since DNA testing began, 342 people have been exonerated in the United States. None of these has been in Maine, possibly because of the restrictions on post-conviction review.

Read more: EDITORIAL –...

Dechaine applies for federal review of 1989 murder conviction

By Jordan Bailey | Courier Publications | Jul 20, 2016

http://waldo.villagesoup.com/p/dechaine-applies-for-federal-review-of-1989-murder-conviction/1550625

Part 2 of a separate three-part investigative report on this case is running in papers July 21.

Dennis Dechaine, the Bowdoinham farmer who was convicted in 1989 for the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry and has been held at Maine State Prison ever since, submitted an application to file a second writ of habeas corpus at U.S. First Circuit Court in Boston on July 16, in which he asserts his innocence and presents ten grounds on which his constitutional rights have been violated.

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Even 27 years later, Dennis Dechaine’s supporters try for new trial

Jan 31, 2016

Bob McLaughlin’s obsession began on a spring night in 2004 outside his home, his gaze fixed on an intense glow that hung above the hillside.

McLaughlin, an advertising writer, had just bought a house on the edge of South Pond in Warren, a two-mile stretch of water surrounded by trees just west of Route 1. Looking over the pond, he could not help but see the halogen lights looming.

“It looked like a city,” said McLaughlin, now 71. “I said, ‘That must be the prison.’ ” Read more at http://www.pressherald.com/2016/01/17/even-27-years-later-dechaine-supporters-try-for-new-trial/

Jim Moore on Sabotaging Justice

MOUNT  MIRAGE

By James P. Moore

[Retired Federal agent: ATF, Organized Crime & Racketeering Strike Force, INTERPOL. Note: As an old cop, I entered this case to prove to the defendant’s supporters that he was guilty and the law had done its job.]

 

EXAMINE THE EVIDENCE, BE A JURY, REACH YOUR VERDICT BASED ON  EVIDENCE, BUT YOU’LL HAVE FACTS JURORS IN THIS CASE NEVER HEARD.

       Between noon and 3:00p.m. on Wednesday, July 6, 1988, twelve-year-old Sarah Cherry was abducted from the Henkel house in Bowdoin, Maine where she was babysitting. On Friday, July 8th, her vandalized body was found in a woods, three miles away.

Read more: Jim Moore on...

DNA experts testify as Dennis Dechaine seeks new murder trial

Nov 9, 2013

From the Kennebec Journal

A judge must decide if the Maine man convicted of murdering 12-year-old Sarah Cherry in 1988 gets a new trial.

The legal fate of Dennis Dechaine now rests, as it has for 25 years, in the hands of Superior Court Justice Carl Bradford.

Bradford, 80, retired in 1998 but is still an active judge and is called upon to preside over certain cases, including that of Dechaine, whom Bradford sent to prison for life in 1989.

On Thursday and Friday in a Portland courtroom, Bradford listened to testimony from DNA experts. He now awaits written arguments from the defense and prosecution before he determines whether Dechaine is granted a new trial.

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Nov. 8, 2013…

By Eric Russell
Staff Writer Portland Press Herald

Prosecutor challenges Dennis Dechaine position that DNA supports alternate suspect in 1988 murder

Nov 9, 2013

From the Bangor Daily News

PORTLAND, Maine — A two-day hearing about new DNA analysis from the 1988 murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry concluded Friday amid witness arguments that the evidence isn’t compelling enough to trigger a new trial. Even Dennis Dechaine, who is serving a life sentence for the crime, said Friday that he won’t be surprised if Justice Carl O. Bradford rules against him.

“I think he made up his mind about this case in 1988 and nothing will change it,” said Dechaine, who has maintained his innocence.

Dechaine, a Bowdoinham farmer, was convicted in 1989 of murdering Cherry. Since then, he and a group of supporters called Trial and Error have repeatedly sought a new trial, based on a variety of reasons. The new DNA analysis introduced Thursday is the most recent.

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Nov. 8, 2013…

By Christopher Cousins
Staff Writer By , BDN Staff

DNA experts testify as Dennis Dechaine seeks new murder trial

Nov 8, 2013

From the Portland Press-Herald

A judge must decide if the Maine man convicted of murdering 12-year-old Sarah Cherry in 1988 gets a new trial.

The legal fate of Dennis Dechaine now rests, as it has for 25 years, in the hands of Superior Court Justice Carl Bradford.

Bradford, 80, retired in 1998 but is still an active judge and is called upon to preside over certain cases, including that of Dechaine, whom Bradford sent to prison for life in 1989.

On Thursday and Friday in a Portland courtroom, Bradford listened to testimony from DNA experts. He now awaits written arguments from the defense and prosecution before he determines whether Dechaine is granted a new trial.

view full story

Nov. 8, 2013…

By Eric Russell
Staff Writer Portland Press Herald

More DNA testing approved in Sarah Cherry murder case as Dechaine seeks new trial

Jan 25, 2013

By Jenna Beaulieu
Staff Writer Fiddlehead Focus
October 30th 2012 08:51pm

AUGUSTA, Maine — More DNA testing in convicted murderer Dennis Dechaine’s bid for a new trial was approved Thursday by the State Attorney General’s Office and a superior court justice who has presided over the case for 23 years.

Steven Peterson, Dechaine’s defense attorney, said Friday that Superior Court Justice Carl O. Bradbord agreed during a telephone conference Thursday to continue testing on evidence from the 1988 murder of 11-year-old Sarah Cherry. Specifically, according to Peterson, tests will be conducted on the shirt that was worn by Cherry when she was kidnapped, tortured and killed in the town of Bowdoin.

Read more: More DNA...

Dechaine supporters pin hopes on DNA test results

Nov 10, 2012

By Jenna Beaulieu
Staff Writer Fiddlehead Focus
October 30th 2012 08:51pm

ST. JOHN VALLEY – Recent DNA testing of evidence from a 1988 murder may have opened up a door for a retrial of Dennis Dechaine, the man courts convicted of murdering 12-year-old Sarah Cherry in 1988. However, there are two very different interpretations of the test results, and Dechaine’s defense attorney Steven Peterson is pursuing additional testing.

Peterson said, “There’s more testing being done.”

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