But even after two decades, Dennis Dechaine says he’s innocent and the wrong man is serving time for Sarah Cherry’s death. Others, though, are just as convinced he’s a killer.
In part one, Catherine Pegram begins a look at both sides of the case and the new information that could set Dechaine free. July marks 20 years since the murder happened.
Dennis Dechaine has been fighting since then to clear his name. This summer, he’ll begin another battle as he asks a judge to consider a new trial.
":Every day in here reminds me of the wrong that was done to me.":
At 50 years old, Dennis Dechaine has spent some of the best years of his life in prison – for a crime he says he didn’t commit.
It was july 6th 1988 when 12-year-old sarah cherry of bowdoin was kidnapped from her babysitting job. Two days later, her body was found in the woods…she had been tied up, tortured and raped.
Dechaine, a farmer in Bowdoinham, was arrested and within months found guilty of murder.
":Anybody who think I belong here needs to think about what the jury didn’t hear and some of the lies that they did hear.":
Dechaine says the effort to quickly close the books on such a heinous crime resulted in a botched trial that excluded scientific evidence. For almost two decades, his argument has pitted people who adamantly believe he’s guilty against those who say the wrong man’s behind bars.
":If the investigators had done their job properly from the outset, it wouldn’t be polarized and the case would be solved.":
":The thing is there’s an innocent guy in jail and the killer’s running around loose and I don’t like that – I don’t think anybody should like that.":
Jim moore, a former A-T-F agent, has written two books based on evidence he says proves the Dechaine jury didn’t hear all of the facts.
Moore is also a member of trial and error dennis-dot-org – a group that’s been criticized for its push for a new trial, causing years of pain for the Cherry family.
":We didn’t hurt the Cherry family – they did, by getting the wrong guy and letting the real killer go, they fed them a placebo…":
":You have to feel for the family. But you also have to wonder, doesn’t the family really want to make sure that the person who committed this crime is the one who’s in jail and not someone who’s been falsely convicted":
Steven Peterson, Dechaine’s lawyer, says he’ll file a motion this summer for a new trial.
One of the key pieces of his argument is D-N-A found under Sarah Cherry’s fingernails that belongs to a man, but doesn’t match Dechaine.
":I believe if the evidence, if fully presented to a jury, will lead to a verdict of an acquittal.":
Dechaine says all he wants is a chance – a chance for a new trial that could set him free and settle two decades of debate.
":We were all raised thinking or believing that the justice system is fair and that a jury trial is set up so that all of the evidence can be evaluated in a case. That never happened for me.":
Dechaine and his supporters say there’s lots of other evidence a jury should hear – such as the medical examiner’s estimation of Sarah Cherry’s time of death and the fact Dechaine was in police custody at that time.
In part two, we’ll hear from folks who say Dechaine is right where he should be – and after nearly 20 years, it’s time to let this case go.