Trial and Error

The Outcry for Justice in the Dennis Dechaine Case

Exclusion of opinions a blow to Dechaine

portland press herald 3053967

Nov 18, 2010

Only DNA evidence will be admitted at a hearing to determine if the convicted murderer gets a new trial.

By Trevor Maxwell 
Staff Writer

In a major blow to Dennis Dechaine’s bid for a new trial, the judge in the case will not consider new forensic opinions offered by the defense that suggest Dechaine could not have murdered 12-year-old Sarah Cherry in July 1988.

Dechaine’s lawyer, Steve Peterson, obtained the opinions earlier this year from two forensic pathologists, Cyril Wecht and Walter Hofman, regarding Cherry’s time of death. Peterson hoped to persuade Justice Carl O. Bradford to consider those reports, along with DNA evidence, at an upcoming hearing to determine whether Dechaine will get a new trial.

In an order filed last week in Knox County Superior Court, Bradford said state law strictly limits the hearing to DNA evidence and other evidence directly related to DNA. The opinions from Wecht and Hofman do not fall into that category, the judge ruled.

“New evidence that is exculpatory but not directly relevant to the interpretation of the DNA evidence will not be admitted,” Bradford wrote. “To do otherwise would allow the defendant to relitigate issues that were or could have been argued in earlier proceedings.”

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Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

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