Trial and Error

The Outcry for Justice in the Dennis Dechaine Case

News Articles - Trial and Error - Dennis Dechaine

Prosecutor challenges Dennis Dechaine position that DNA supports alternate suspect in 1988 murder

Nov 9, 2013

From the Bangor Daily News

PORTLAND, Maine — A two-day hearing about new DNA analysis from the 1988 murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry concluded Friday amid witness arguments that the evidence isn’t compelling enough to trigger a new trial. Even Dennis Dechaine, who is serving a life sentence for the crime, said Friday that he won’t be surprised if Justice Carl O. Bradford rules against him.

“I think he made up his mind about this case in 1988 and nothing will change it,” said Dechaine, who has maintained his innocence.

Dechaine, a Bowdoinham farmer, was convicted in 1989 of murdering Cherry. Since then, he and a group of supporters called Trial and Error have repeatedly sought a new trial, based on a variety of reasons. The new DNA analysis introduced Thursday is the most recent.

view full story

Nov. 8, 2013…

By Christopher Cousins
Staff Writer By , BDN Staff

DNA experts testify as Dennis Dechaine seeks new murder trial

Nov 8, 2013

From the Portland Press-Herald

A judge must decide if the Maine man convicted of murdering 12-year-old Sarah Cherry in 1988 gets a new trial.

The legal fate of Dennis Dechaine now rests, as it has for 25 years, in the hands of Superior Court Justice Carl Bradford.

Bradford, 80, retired in 1998 but is still an active judge and is called upon to preside over certain cases, including that of Dechaine, whom Bradford sent to prison for life in 1989.

On Thursday and Friday in a Portland courtroom, Bradford listened to testimony from DNA experts. He now awaits written arguments from the defense and prosecution before he determines whether Dechaine is granted a new trial.

view full story

Nov. 8, 2013…

By Eric Russell
Staff Writer Portland Press Herald

More DNA testing approved in Sarah Cherry murder case as Dechaine seeks new trial

Jan 25, 2013

By Jenna Beaulieu
Staff Writer Fiddlehead Focus
October 30th 2012 08:51pm

AUGUSTA, Maine — More DNA testing in convicted murderer Dennis Dechaine’s bid for a new trial was approved Thursday by the State Attorney General’s Office and a superior court justice who has presided over the case for 23 years.

Steven Peterson, Dechaine’s defense attorney, said Friday that Superior Court Justice Carl O. Bradbord agreed during a telephone conference Thursday to continue testing on evidence from the 1988 murder of 11-year-old Sarah Cherry. Specifically, according to Peterson, tests will be conducted on the shirt that was worn by Cherry when she was kidnapped, tortured and killed in the town of Bowdoin.

Read more: More DNA...

Dechaine supporters pin hopes on DNA test results

Nov 10, 2012

By Jenna Beaulieu
Staff Writer Fiddlehead Focus
October 30th 2012 08:51pm

ST. JOHN VALLEY – Recent DNA testing of evidence from a 1988 murder may have opened up a door for a retrial of Dennis Dechaine, the man courts convicted of murdering 12-year-old Sarah Cherry in 1988. However, there are two very different interpretations of the test results, and Dechaine’s defense attorney Steven Peterson is pursuing additional testing.

Peterson said, “There’s more testing being done.”

Read more: Dechaine...

Is new DNA information enough for ‘reasonable doubt’ in Dechaine case?

Oct 13, 2012

New information casts doubts on Dennis Dechaine’s role in the death of Sarah Cherry, and confirms the alternative suspect theory, an analyst hired to interpret DNA data from a 24-year-old murder case says.

Dr. Greg Hampikian, a DNA analyst from Idaho hired by Dechaine’s attorney, said Friday that his method of interpreting the results excludes Dechaine as a suspect because of the absence of a key marker present in Dechaine’s biological profile.

“It is clear from the ligature results that more than one male contributed DNA to the scarf; in fact there are at least three male contributors based on the result,” wrote Hampikian in a report to attorney Steven Peterson.

DNA lab Orchid Cellmark in Texas reported that DNA found on a scarf used to strangle 12-year-old Cherry included a mixture of samples from at least three different men. Cellmark states in its report provided by Peterson that Dechaine could not be excluded as a suspect. The testing was paid for by an organization called the Innocence Project, which works to exonerate people it believes are wrongly convicted.

view full story

By Christopher Cousins
Staff Writer Bangor Daily News

Male DNA found on girl’s clothing in Dechaine case

Sep 27, 2012

PORTLAND — Further testing of evidence from the 1988 murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry has revealed male DNA on the girl’s T-shirt, her bra and the scarf that was used to strangle her.

Dennis Dechaine, convicted of murdering 12-year-old Sarah Cherry in 1988, is bidding for a new trial based on a change in state law that says the prisoner only needs to show that new DNA evidence likely would have led to an acquittal.

The DNA has not yet been compared with any other samples, including DNA from Dechaine, men who worked on the investigation or the felons in a state database.

“The thing we’re hoping for — of course, we could have it backfire on us — is that this could prove it’s not Dennis Dechaine,” said Steve Peterson, Dechaine’s court-appointed lawyer.

view full story

Sept. 25, 2012…

By Ann S. Kim
Staff Writer Portland Press Herald

Evidence in Dechaine Case to Be DNA Tested

Sep 24, 2012

There’s a potentially major development in one of the most high profile abduction- murder cases in Maine’s history. Recent DNA testing of several items of clothing found at the crime scene where 12-year-old Sara Cherry was killed in 1988 shows the presence of an unknown male or males. The DNA profile of the man convicted of the crime, Dennis Dechaine, is now being sent to a lab. The results could either help Dechaine, or place him at the scene …

Related Media
Duration | 3:10

Read more: Evidence in...

Dechaine hearing wraps up for the week

Jun 15, 2012

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A hearing to determine whether or not Dennis Dechaine will be granted a new trial after his conviction for the murder of 12-year old Sarah Cherry wrapped up for now.

The murder case has been one of the most talked about ever in Maine. Legal experts say they have never seen a case like this before. It has been making its way through the court system for more than 2-decades now.

Dechaine and his attorney are clinging to hope that a small DNA sample taken from Sarah’s fingernail, 24 years ago, will be enough to get Dechaine a new trial. The DNA matches Sarah and an unidentified male. It does not match Dennis Dechaine.

Thursday there was scientific testimony based on the reliability of the DNA sample. The state presented an expert who said the sample was likely contaminated at some point over the last 24 years.

Read more: Dechaine...

Experts differ on DNA in Dechaine case

Jun 15, 2012

By Ann S. Kim
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — The hearing on Dennis Dechaine’s bid for a new trial today featured expert witnesses with conflicting views about the likelihood that the DNA evidence at issue was the result of contamination.

Dechaine is serving a life sentence for the 1988 kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry of Bowdoin.

Read more: Experts...

Dechaine witnesses at odds over DNA evidence

Jun 15, 2012

At issue is whether male DNA found under Sarah Cherry’s thumbnail may have been caused by contamination.
By Ann S. Kim
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – Expert witnesses who testified Thursday in Dennis Dechaine’s hearing on a new trial offered contrasting views on whether the DNA evidence at issue is a result of contamination.

Three DNA experts, with doctorates in genetics and extensive backgrounds in forensic science, testified about the partial DNA profile that is at the center of the multiday hearing. Dechaine’s attorney, Steve Peterson, is trying to convince a judge that the jurors would not have convicted Dechaine of the 1988 murder and kidnapping of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry had they known about the DNA from an unknown male on the girl’s left thumbnail.

Read more: Dechaine...

Witness suggests more DNA testing at Dechaine hearing

Jun 15, 2012

PORTLAND — More testing of items from the investigation of Sarah Cherry’s murder could help clarify whether the DNA found on one of her thumbnails came from contamination of that evidence, a witness said Wednesday at a hearing on Dennis Dechaine’s motion for a new trial.

Swabs of items from the 1988 kidnapping and murder of the 12-year-old Bowdoin girl have already been tested for male DNA and come up negative.

The partial DNA profile extracted from the girl’s left thumbnail is at the center of Dechaine’s attempt to get another trial. He was convicted of killing Cherry in 1989.

Read more: Witness...

Read the Book


Human Sacrifice: On the Altar of Injustice

High-quality soft-cover edition, 418 pages, 

is exclusively available from Trial & Error for $25, with free shipping.

Click here to order!