Apr 4, 2010
Portland Press Herald
By Trevor Maxwell
Dennis Dechaine, the one-time farmer from Bowdoinham who is serving a life sentence for the murder of a 12-year-old girl in 1988, has been hospitalized for treatment of an undisclosed medical condition.
Dechaine, 52, was taken from the Maine State Prison in Warren to a hospital Monday morning, and he remained there Tuesday night, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Denise Lord.
Lord said she could not discuss Dechaine’s medical condition or location because of confidentiality laws.
“He is hospitalized at this point,” Lord said Tuesday night. “If and when he is returned to the prison, that would be public information.”
Bill Moore, a private investigator who is part of Dechaine’s legal team, said Dechaine went to the hospital because of problems with his heart rate and blood pressure. Moore did not have further details, except that he expects Dechaine to be returned to the prison soon.
Lord said the Department of Corrections is investigating the circumstances that led to the hospitalization. She declined to elaborate on the purpose of that investigation.
The prison has an area where inmates get routine medical care and mental health services, Lord said. Inmates are taken outside the prison in emergencies, or when they have to be seen by specialists.
Steve Peterson, the Rockport lawyer who represents Dechaine in his pending bid for a new trial, said Tuesday night he was not aware that Dechaine had been taken to the hospital.
He said Dechaine has gained weight recently but has not had any major health problems. Peterson does not think Dechaine has had any other medical emergencies during his incarceration.
On July 6, 1988, Sarah Cherry was kidnapped from the home in Bowdoin where she was baby-sitting. Her body was found in the woods two days later; she had been sexually assaulted, stabbed and strangled.
Dechaine was tried and convicted in March 1989. He maintains he is innocent, and that someone set him up by taking several items from his pickup truck. His appeals to the state and federal courts have been rejected.
This fall, a judge is expected to hear arguments in Dechaine’s pending motion for a new trial based on DNA evidence.
The crux of the motion is a bit of DNA from an unknown male — not Dechaine — that was extracted from one of Cherry’s thumbnails four years after Dechaine was convicted.
His lawyers say the DNA came from the real killer; state prosecutors say it was likely deposited on the nail from dirty clippers during Cherry’s autopsy.