Trial and Error

The Outcry for Justice in the Dennis Dechaine Case

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.”

The president of the Innocence Project, which participated in finding the real perpetrators, said Watkins had set an example other prosecutors should follow.
Once again, there was “a faulty conviction … because of human error: faulty witness identifications, shoddy police work and prosecutorial misconduct.”

If Texas can do it, so can Maine. If Texas can put the time and resources into cases to ensure innocent people are not in prison, so can Maine.

Of course, the case of Dennis Dechaine comes to mind. He has been in prison almost a quarter of a century, even though there are many questions about the evidence, how the investigation was conducted and what the jury was told.

It’s time for Maine’s attorney general to have the same fortitude as shown by his colleagues in many other states who have put seeking justice and integrity above all other considerations.

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Genie Nakell
Portland

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