Trial and Error

The Outcry for Justice in the Dennis Dechaine Case

Letters to the Editor - Trial and Error - Dennis Dechaine

But who judges the Judge?

Oct 18, 2008

Portland Press Herald

As Dennis Dechaine awaits a yet-to-be scheduled hearing to decide on a retrial, old concerns resurface. For if Maine custom prevails, the judge who will say yes or no to granting the new trial will be the same judge, Carl Bradford, whose work on the case has been seriously questioned.
Among Judge Bradford¹s controversial rulings at the original murder trial in 1989 was one to deny the defendant¹s request for DNA testing. Tests conducted since then show the DNA found on the victim¹s body was not Dechaine¹s.

Unless the judge recuses himself, how can we be sure the retrial request will be handled without prejudice? How can we be sure it would not be denied simply to prevent scrutiny of earlier decisions? How can we be sure Dechaine, who is just one of an estimated 20,000 wrongfully convicted inmates in U.S. prisons, has gotten a fair shot?

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DNA technology could exonerate Dechaine

Sep 10, 2008

Kennebec Journal – Morning Sentinel

Through DNA analysis, the Innocence Project has gained freedom for 220 innocent people convicted of violent crimes across the United States.

Wrongful convictions happen in every state. Maine is no exception. The Maine Attorney General’s Office has repeatedly used DNA technology to solve crimes and win convictions. However, it falls short in recognizing the value of DNA technology in post-conviction exonerations.

Dennis Dechaine has served 20 years of a life sentence for the murder of Sarah Cherry. He asked for DNA analysis to be done before his trial at his expense. The judge denied his request.

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Former Attorney General Jon Lund’s Letter to the Editor

Jun 15, 2008

Former Attorney General Jon Lund’s 2008 unpublished letter to the Editor of the Bangor Daily News.

In 1988 the prosecution in the case against Dennis Dechaine in the murder of Sarah Cherry called the evidence “overwhelming.”

In fact what was “overwhleming” (and still is) was the conspicuous lack of evidence:

  • There was no demonstrated connection between Dechaine and the victim.
  • There was no trace of the victim in Dechaine’s truck (including no trace found by scent dogs).
  • No trace of Dechaine was found on the victim.
  • Dechaine had no record whatsoever of crime, violence or any form of sexual perversion.
  • DNA testing requested by Dechaine at the time of the trial was denied.

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