1st Circuit Rejects Dennis Dechaine’s Latest Appeal

Dennis Dechaine

A court in Boston rejected Dennis Dechaine's final federal appeal in his longstanding attempt to clear his name in the 1988 death of a 12-year-old girl in Maine.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision issued Monday indicates Dechaine failed meet the requirement for transferring the case to federal court. Dechaine's lawyer, Steven Peterson, said there could be another state appeal, but he acknowledged Tuesday that the case is "getting pretty close to the end."

Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber said nothing that has happened in the 28 years since Dechaine was charged with murder to shake prosecutors' view that he committed the crime.

"It's time that he lets the family put this behind them, to the extent that they can," Macomber said Tuesday.

Dechaine is serving a life sentence for the murder and sexual assault of Sarah Cherry, who was abducted while baby-sitting in Bowdoin in July 1988. Dechaine was convicted the following year.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has denied three requests for a new trial. In the latest, the court concluded new DNA evidence wouldn't have changed the outcome of the original trial.

Evidence in the case included a car repair bill bearing Dechaine's name that was found outside the home where Sarah disappeared, and rope used to bind her that matched rope found in his truck and barn.

The farmer from Bowdoinham, who was then 30, became lost in the woods on the day Sarah went missing, and eventually emerged, unable to locate his truck. Police found it near Sarah's body.

The most recent appeal was based on DNA evidence using technology that wasn't available at the time of trial. It indicated that a partial DNA profile recovered from one of the victim's fingernails didn't match Dechaine but it also didn't match any of the alternative suspects.

Peterson, the defense lawyer, said previously that there was circumstantial evidence but no actual evidence showing that Dechaine was in the victim's home or that she was in his truck. He said a new jury should have the benefit of hearing all of the evidence in the case.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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