Trial and Error

The Outcry for Justice in the Dennis Dechaine Case

News Articles - Trial and Error - Dennis Dechaine

A commentary by Douglas Christensen : Channel X Radio

Aug 29, 2010

A commentary by Douglas  Christensen, Presisdent  Channel X Radio.

August 28-29 2010  

From Pokey Point Pond, I’m Douglas Christensen with my comment on things and stuff.  For years, nay, for decades, the Maine Attorney General’s office has engaged in stone-walling and a cover-up of its handling of the Dennis Dechaine case.  For those who have been living under a rock these past 22-years, Dechaine was arrested, tried and convicted of the murder of a 12-year-old downstate girl named Sarah Cherry. She lived in Bowdoin, Dennis lived in the adjoining town of Bowdoinham. He was a college-educated young man, a married farmer of 30, who had graduated from his hometown high school in Madawaska more than a decade before.

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Dechaine pleads not guilty to prison trafficking charge

Aug 5, 2010

Morphine and an anti-anxiety drug were used in his suicide attempt.

By Trevor Maxwell 

Staff Writer
ROCKLAND – Dennis Dechaine pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a charge of trafficking in contraband at the Maine State Prison, where he is serving a life sentence for the murder of a 12-year-old girl.

Dechaine, 52, appeared briefly in Knox County Superior Court via closed-circuit television from the nearby prison in Warren. He did not speak during the hearing, except to tell the judge that he understood the felony charge and that he wished to enter a not guilty plea.
Prosecutors say Dechaine illegally possessed morphine and the prescription anti-anxiety drug Klonopin.
Dechaine was convicted of kidnapping, torturing and murdering Sarah Cherry in the Sagadahoc County town of Bowdoin in 1988. He says he is innocent, and his latest motion for a new trial is pending, with a hearing expected this fall.
In prior interviews and in a letter sent to The Portland Press Herald last month, Dechaine said he used the morphine and Klonopin in a suicide attempt on April 4. He would not disclose how he got the drugs, and he said he has not cooperated with prison investigators or the District Attorney’s Office.
Corrections officers found Dechaine near death in his cell. He was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where he spent two weeks recovering. Since his return to prison, Dechaine has been in the specialized mental health unit.
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Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

Dechaine pleads not guilty to drug charges

Aug 4, 2010

By Shlomit Auciello

Rockland — Convicted murderer Dennis J. Dechaine pleaded not guilty Aug. 4 to a charge that he was in possession of prohibited materials, in the form of drugs, while incarcerated at the Maine State Prison.

Dechaine, who attended the hearing at Knox County Superior Court by way of a video hearing from the prison, was represented by attorney Jeremy Pratt. District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau represented the state at the hearing, which was heard by Judge John David Kennedy.

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Maine Voices: Dechaine story converts a skeptic

Jul 28, 2010

Maine Voices:
Dechaine story converts a skeptic

A close look at the claims of his defenders carries considerable weight for an online editor.


GRAY – As a news editor myself, I’m always reading for the “editorial slant.” I found the Dennis Dechaine series quite balanced, yet intriguing. In Maine for only three years, and hailing from New Jersey where Megan’s Law originated after an equally heinous murder of an innocent child, I’ve been a proponent of the death penalty for certain crimes. I bear no sympathy for perpetrators of such unthinkable crimes.

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Dechaine: ‘What I sensed … was relief’

Jul 25, 2010

Prisoner Dennis Dechaine, in his first interview with the media since his suicide attempt in April, said Friday he believes prosecutors have charged him with trafficking in prison contraband as payback for his outspokenness about his case, and also to undermine his pending motion for a new trial.

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Joined by his attorney Steve Peterson, left, of Rockport, Dennis Dechaine speaks to a reporter at the Maine State Prison in Warren in March. Dechaine, incarcerated since his arrest and subsequent conviction for the 1988 slaying of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry in Bowdoin, has a court hearing in September which his attorney has described as his “last, best chance” at a new trial.

2010 file photo by The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram

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It’s not like Dechaine is asking for pardon

Jul 22, 2010

Morning Sentinel Staff

Thank you for publishing Trevor Maxwell’s piece on the Dennis Dechaine case. It’s journalism like this that makes me optimistic that local newspapers can survive.

Like most Mainers I’ve been somewhat aware of this case over the years but only in snippets or fragments. It was very helpful see the sad story from its beginning to the present. With a case this of this magnitude I can’t understand why the authorities have fought a retrial for so many years, especially with the science of DNA being so much more developed.

The fact that Dechaine was denied the use of DNA testing from the beginning is grounds for a new trial. It’s not like he’s asking for a pardon.

It’s almost like the prosecution doesn’t believe in their own judicial system.

David Jordan


Dechaine says he attempted to commit suicide

Jul 17, 2010

Here is the article and the link to PPH and followed by Dennis’ letter to Trevor Maxwell.

Portland Press Herald

Dennis Dechaine, who is serving a life sentence for murdering a 12-year-old girl in 1988, says he tried to kill himself with prescription drugs earlier this year.

In a letter sent this week to The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, Dechaine said he “ingested a combination of prescription drugs in an attempt to end my life” in early April at the Maine State Prison in Warren.

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A man serving time for a high profile murder has been indicted on charges of trafficking in prison contraband.

Jul 16, 2010


A man serving time for a high profile murder has been indicted on charges of trafficking in prison contraband.

Dennis Dechaine was convicted of murdering 12 year old Sarah Cherry in 1988.

NEWS CENTER’S midcoast media partner Village Soup dot com reports  that a Knox County grand jury has indicted Dechaine.

The indictment alleges that on April fifth, Dechaine had morphine and / or klonopine. That was the week that he was rushed to the hospital, reportedly near death after his heart rate and blood pressure dropped. Dechaine was hospitalized for two weeks.

Prison officials have never said what he was treated for.

Dechaine indicted following suicide try

Jul 16, 2010

A Knox County grand jury has indicted convicted murder Dennis Dechaine on trafficking in prison contraband following a suicide attempt at the state prison in Warren.

In a letter sent this week to The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, Dechaine said he had “ingested a combination of prescription drugs in an attempt to end my life.”

Dechaine, 52, is serving a life sentence for the 1988 murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry in Bowdoin. The Madawaska native has maintained his innocence through four unsuccessful appeals – as have a number of friends, family and others – and the case has been the subject of both legal and media interest over the years. This fall, he is expected to get a hearing before the judge who originally convicted him on whether Dechaine should get a new trial based primarily on a microscopic fragment of unidentified male DNA extracted from Cherry’s clipped thumbnail.

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July 11 2010

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The Defense Expert: Intrigued by case, prominent lawyer uses resources to scrutinize evidence

Jul 11, 2010

Famed defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey thinks the unidentified male DNA found on murder victim Sarah Cherry’s thumbnail is intriguing, but it might not be enough to get a new trial for prisoner Dennis Dechaine.

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Inmate Dennis Dechaine shakes hands with attorney F. Lee Bailey, right, after a meeting at the Maine State Prison in Warren on April 8, 2009. “All that I promised to do, and have done, is to use past friendships and associations to get Dennis what he couldn’t afford,” Bailey said. “I don’t wish to be an advocate for anybody.”

April 2009 file photo/The Associated Press

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The Hometown Perspective: For those who knew the young man, disbelief endures

Jul 11, 2010

MADAWASKA – The boys would play on the train tracks near their neighborhood, climbing ladders on the sides of the freight cars and jumping from one to the next.

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In a yearbook photo from Dennis Dechaine’s junior year at Madawaska High School, the teenage Dechaine, left, holds a camera that he used when he was on the yearbook staff. “The camera was bigger than him,” said his childhood friend Carol Waltman.

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The Author: Private investigator digs – and becomes an advocate for Dechaine

portland press herald 3129599Jul 11, 2010

In 1992, a retired federal agent from Brunswick saw a notice in a local newspaper.

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Maine Today Photo Store

Trial and Error, the group of people who believe Dennis Dechaine was wrongfully convicted for a murder in 1988, was holding a meeting in town.

James P. Moore, a private investigator who had retired in 1985 from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, recalls thinking that the group was likely a “bunch of birdbrains.” Out of curiosity, though, he attended the meeting.

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The Alternate Suspect: Is former Mainer linked, or ‘nothing but speculation’?

Jul 11, 2010

Lawyers, friends and supporters who believe Dennis Dechaine was framed for the murder in 1988 of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry have pointed fingers at several possible alternate suspects.

But one name — Douglas Senecal — has been at or near the top of their lists since the beginning.

At least three judges, however, have found no credible evidence linking Senecal to the crime, and they have said Dechaine’s alternate suspect theory is nothing more than speculation.

Senecal himself says the target painted on his back forced him to move out of Maine shortly after Dechaine’s conviction. Being labeled as a possible suspect in one of Maine’s most infamous murders has essentially destroyed his life over the past 22 years, Senecal said in a brief telephone interview last week.

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By Trevor Maxwell 

Staff Writer

July 11 2010

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