Trial and Error

The Outcry for Justice in the Dennis Dechaine Case

News Articles - Trial and Error - Dennis Dechaine

Voice of the People

Continuing to fight for justice

Thirty-four years of fighting a wrongful conviction suggests that Maine does not have a functional “justice system.”  Instead, we suffer a flawed legal system.

What kind of legal system allows a prosecutor to argue successfully against DNA testing of any crime scene evidence prior to trial?  What kind of system allows a prosecutor to order the incineration of an abundance of crime scene evidence not introduced at trial?  What kind of system allows a prosecutor to argue against DNA testing thumbnail scrapings, then chastises a defense attorney who has the testing done anyway?  What kind of system refuses to allow the testimony of experts to establish an exculpatory time of death?

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Commentary: Inaction on Dechaine DNA revelation should be the final straw

The latest development in the murder case offers further proof, as though any more were needed, that our state's criminal justice system is broken.

By Jeffrey Evangelos Special to the Telegram

Jordan Andrews’ startling report in last week’s Maine Sunday Telegram, revealing that the latest DNA technology has excluded Dennis Dechaine from critical crime scene evidence, not only bolsters Dechaine’s longstanding claim of innocence but raises serious questions about the continuing misconduct and obstruction of justice in the Maine Attorney General’s Office.

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Sex offender’s victims wonder if he was involved in Sarah Cherry’s killing

David Guffey lived up the road from the home where the 12-year-old was babysitting at the time of her abduction.

By Jordan Andrews, Staff Writer | Portland Press Herald | August 7, 2022

David Guffey, a convicted sex offender who lived up the road from Sarah Cherry, has never been publicly linked to her murder. But police questioned him at one point, and his victims believe he could have been involved.

New DNA testing ordered by a judge could soon determine whether there is anything to their suspicions.

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Could a notorious serial killer have murdered Sarah Cherry?

Dennis Dechaine was convicted in the horrific 1988 slaying of the 12-year-old Bowdoin girl but has been granted a chance to test evidence with modern DNA techniques. Some believe the profile of the late Richard Evonitz might emerge.

By Colin Woodard, Staff Writer | Portland Press Herald | August 7, 2022

BOWDOIN — Thirty-four years ago this summer, 12-year-old Sarah Cherry was abducted in broad daylight from a home where she was babysitting. Her body was found two days later mostly hidden under leaves and brush in the woods about 3 miles away. She had been tortured with a knife, sexually assaulted with sticks and strangled to death.

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Supporters of convicted child murderer raising funds for new DNA testing

MADAWASKA, Maine — Longtime supporters of convicted child killer Dennis Dechaine  say they are encouraged by a judge’s ruling in favor of new DNA testing in his case, and are raising money to pay for the tests.

By Jessica Potila | Bangor Daily News | August 2, 2022

A Knox County jury convicted Dechaine in 1989 for the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry who was babysitting at a Bowdoin home when she went missing on July 6, 1988. Her body was found two days later covered by brush in the woods several miles away.

Dechaine has unsuccessfully appealed his conviction five times over the years. His last effort was rejected by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in 2016. In his latest request, Dechaine hopes the results of new DNA tests will allow him to have a new trial and ultimately exonerate him.

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Judge Mallonee Approves Advanced DNA Testing

July 22, 2022 - Maine Superior Court Judge Bruce Mallonee has approved the request for the use of advanced DNA technology to test evidence from the crime scene and in the State’s possession. 

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Despite his reference (in graf 2, line 2) to Dennis’s “confession” to the crime, that there is no proof that Dennis ever confessed to anyone.

Are These the Thoughts of a Criminal?

Letter to The Free Press, 11/24/20

Fellow Voyagers—

In these days of contentious politics, it’s crucial for each of us to contemplate the bigger picture, that what we share in common dwarfs our differences. Take, for example, the fact that human beings are the only species on Earth with the intellectual capacity to appreciate that we are fortunate voyagers on a breathtakingly beautiful and fragile planet that orbits a long-lived star at 67,000 m.p.h., a star that is the very source of our existence.

It’s taken inconceivable happenstance to bring us to a place in time and space that allows us to benefit from and appreciate such common occurrences as sunrises and sunsets, blue skies, seas and land masses populated by myraid species, and lives blessed with the love of family and friends.

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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.

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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
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 nearly three decades 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.

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Dechaine applies for federal review of 1989 murder conviction

By Jordan Bailey | Courier Publications | Jul 20, 2016

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

Jim Moore on Sabotaging Justice


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.]



       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.

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