For 27 years, a convicted killer in Maine has professed his innocence. On Thursday, the Maine Supreme Court heard Dennis Dechaine's appeal for a new trial in the death of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry in 1988.
Cherry was kidnapped from a home where she was babysitting in July 1988. Her body was discovered days later in the woods in Bowdoin, brutally murdered and sexually assaulted.
Prosecutors say they presented a "mountain" of evidence against Dechaine, including a confession, at trial.
Now Dechaine's lawyer is presenting new DNA evidence that he says proves his client's innocence: a DNA sample from underneath Cherry's fingernails has been matched to an unknown male. It is not a match to Dechaine.
"It's probable that a jury would have reached a different verdict if it heard this DNA evidence," said Steven Peterson, Dechaine's lawyer, to the Maine Supreme Court Thursday.
But prosecutors argue the DNA sample is old and tainted.
"We shouldn't be using today's modern DNA testing methods to try to interpret what took place decades ago," said prosecutor Don Macomber.
Cherry's family attended the appeal and spoke to the media afterward.
"I hope I die knowing [Dechaine] is still in prison," said her mother, Debbie Crosman.
Her family said they doubt the defense will ever stop the appeals process, no matter how much they want to put this case behind them.
"It just bothers me that they are still obsessing over the same thing," said Crosman.
The defense attorneys said they plan to appeal to the federal courts if the Maine Supreme Court does not grant a new trial.