Trial and Error

The Outcry for Justice in the Dennis Dechaine Case

News Articles - Trial and Error - Dennis Dechaine

Brother says Dechaine was found near death

Apr 7, 2010

Don Dechaine says he isn’t sure what caused the well-known prisoner’s heart rate and blood pressure to drop on Monday.

PORTLAND — A brother of Dennis Dechaine said Thursday that the well-known prisoner continues to recover at Maine Medical Center, after being found near death Monday morning in his cell at the Maine State Prison in Warren.

Don Dechaine of Madawaska said he intends to visit his brother at Maine Med today. He will be the first family member to see Dennis Dechaine since the emergency.

Don Dechaine said he doesn’t know what caused his brother’s heart rate and blood pressure to plummet.

Read more: Brother says...

Convicted killer seeking new trial is hospitalized

Apr 7, 2010

Bangor Daily News
Dechaine treated for undisclosed illness
By The Associated Press

ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO Convicted murderer Dennis Dechaine stands by a window in a conference room at the Maine State Prison in Warren, Maine, April 6, 2005. Dechaine was hospitalized for an undisclosed illness.

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Massive loophole exists in Freedom of Access Act

Apr 4, 2010

Kennebec Journal

A glaring omission in Judith Meyer’s rosy account of the status of Maine’s Freedom of Access Act (March 30) was the Maine Supreme Court’s divided 2008 ruling regarding then-Attorney General Steve Rowe’s Dechaine commission.

The commission was created and charged in its task by the attorney general, it used state facilities and employees and its findings were announced by the attorney general. In spite of those facts, however, the court ruled that the commission’s records were closed to public scrutiny. Meyer’s own newspaper (Lewiston’s Sun Journal) was highly critical of this decision.

Read more: Massive...

Noted Pathologists Refute Time Of Death In Dechaine Case

Mar 3, 2010

Lincoln County News
By Lucy L. Martin

Two nationally acclaimed forensic pathologists challenge conclusions that helped convict Dennis Dechaine of the 1988 murder of a 12-year-old Bowdoin girl.

Dechaine’s attorney, Steve Peterson, of Rockport, said this week Dr. Cyril Wecht and Dr. Walter Hofman reviewed the case. They concluded that when the Bowdoinham farmer came out of the woods July 6, 1988 and was taken into police custody about 9 p.m., Sarah Cherry, who had earlier disappeared from the house where she was babysitting, was still alive.

Read more: Noted...

Dechaine lawyers doubt time of victim’s death

Feb 25, 2010


25 February 2010

They claim the young girl died after he was in custody

BY TREVOR MAXWELL, Portland Press Herald

Lawyers for Dennis Dechaine said Wednesday that two renowned forensic pathologists have provided opinions that could help Dechaine get a new trial in the murder of a 12-year-old girl more than two decades ago.

Read more: Dechaine...

Analyses by two experts offer hope to Dechaine

Feb 25, 2010

Lawyers for the convicted killer say new opinions on the time of death back his bid for a new trial.

Lawyers for Dennis Dechaine said Wednesday that two renowned forensic pathologists have provided opinions that could help Dechaine get a new trial in the murder of a 12-year-old girl more than two decades ago.

Dr. Cyril Wecht and Dr. Walter Hofman reviewed the case at the request of Steve Peterson, a Rockport lawyer, and F. Lee Bailey, the famed defense attorney who is a consultant to Dechaine.

In their opinions, Wecht and Hofman agreed that Sarah Cherry likely died several hours after Dechaine emerged from the woods in Bowdoinham and was taken into police custody. Dechaine, 52, is serving a life sentence for Cherry’s kidnapping and murder in 1988.

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By Trevor Maxwell 
Staff Writer

F. Lee Bailey : working as a consultant

Feb 9, 2010


— Famed criminal defense attorney F. Lee Bailey made name for himself defending high profile clients such as O.J. Simpson and Patty Hearst.  He visited Bangor today to speak with business leaders about a program that helps put inmates to work once they leave prison.

“If he stumbles help pick him up and help give him another chance,” Bailey told business leaders at the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

He added that an inmate soon to be released from the Maine Correctional Facility in Windham would be coming to Bangor looking for a job. That inmate took part in a Workready job training program.

Read more: F. Lee Bailey...

Killer’s conviction gives good example of ‘irony’

Jul 5, 2009

Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel

After reading of the importance of DNA analysis in the recent conviction of Thomas H. Mitchell Jr.

for the 1983 slaying of Judith Flagg, I thought back to my struggle in high school English class to understand the concept of irony. The dictionary was little help. Mine defines irony as “an outcome of events contrary to what was expected; the incongruity of this.”

The Mitchell case offers just what I needed.  First, praise is due Deputy Attorney General William Stokes for bringing “the application of modern DNA technology” (his words) to bear on a 26-year-old case.

Read more: Killer’s...

F. Lee Bailey agrees to aid Dechaine bid for new trial

Apr 9, 2009

WARREN – Famed defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey met with convicted child killer Dennis Dechaine on Wednesday and agreed to help with his petition for a new trial.

Bailey met Wednesday with Dechaine at the Maine State Prison, where he’s serving a life sentence for the 1988 kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry in Bowdoinham.

”He’s basically going to be available as a consultant,” Steve Peterson, Dechaine’s lawyer, said of Bailey.

He said he didn’t envision Bailey playing a role in the courtroom, but that’s subject to change.

Read more: F. Lee Bailey...

Posted Public’s right to know clouded by court ruling

Jun 20, 2008

— What is billed as a setback for Dennis Dechaine — the Bowdoinham farmer serving a life sentence for a murder he said he didn’t commit — is a court decision that could hurt a great number of Mainers.

A sharply divided Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a panel hand-picked by Attorney General Steven Rowe to investigate charges of wrongdoing by the police and prosecutors in the Dechaine case was not performing a government function, and so was not subject to the Freedom of Access Act.

Even though Rowe created the panel, selected its members and told them what to investigate, the court majority ruled that the panel was a private organization and did not have to turn over records of its investigation to a member of the public.

Read more: Posted...

Dechaine records access denied

Jun 17, 2008 

A special commission, created by Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe to review the prosecution of Dennis Dechaine, was not a government body and its records can be kept private, the state Supreme Judicial Court ruled on Tuesday.

Two of the five justices who reviewed the case, however, disagreed with the decision. That divide could leave the door open for future debate in the court system or in the Legislature.

Back in 2004, Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe created the Beaulieu commission to investigate allegations that prosecutors and police officers altered notes, misled the jury, ignored alternative suspects and destroyed evidence before, during and after Dechaine’s trial in 1989. Dechaine was convicted and is serving a life sentence for the kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry in Bowdoinham.

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

Dechaine case fuels right-to-know fight

Nov 27, 2007

It’s been nearly 20 years since Dennis Dechaine was arrested, tried and convicted for the kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry in Bowdoinham.

And still the case continues to generate controversy.

The latest flare-up has little to do with Dechaine’s attempts to get a new trial, but it could have a big effect on Maine’s right-to-know law.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court is reviewing a case that asks whether an independent commission, created by a state official, should be allowed to keep its notes and other records out of the public eye. The case is expected to be heard in January.

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