A man convicted of killing a 12-year-old girl more than three decades ago is asking a court to allow advanced DNA testing on the victim’s clothes.
The Portland Press Herald reports that Dennis Dechaine attended a Superior Court hearing virtually on Friday at the Knox County Courthouse in Rockland. Dechaine is serving a life sentence for the murder and sexual assault of Sarah Cherry, who was abducted while babysitting in Bowdoin. Her body was found two days after she disappeared in July 1988.
In 2015, the state supreme court denied Dechaine’s request for a new trial, concluding that new DNA evidence wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the original trial. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court unanimously affirmed a Superior Court justice’s conclusion that DNA evidence recovered from the victim’s fingernail was not sufficient to warrant a new trial for Dechaine, who was convicted of murder, sexual assault and kidnapping.
Dechaine’s lawyer said then that they’d appeal again and that this case is not going to go away.
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At the hearing on Friday, the defense asked the judge to allow a testing technology that was not available three decades ago to be used on Cherry’s garments found at the murder scene, such as her T-shirt, scarf, handkerchief and bra.
Prosecutors argued against the motion, saying that a request for additional testing must be done within two years of when the technology is commonly known and available and it has been longer than that. The assistant attorney general also said the evidence has been contaminated and that the effort sought by the defense would be like “searching for a needle in a haystack, a contaminated needle.”
Evidence in the case included a rope used to bind her that matched rope from Dechaine’s truck and barn.