Twenty Reasons to support Dennis Dechaine’s claim of innocence.
1. Dennis requested DNA testing of the blood under Sarah Cherry’s fingernails before the trial.
** This request was denied by the court on objection by the state.
2. The layered blood found under Sarah Cherry’s fingernails was not Dennis Dechaine’s type.
** The destruction of the fingernails would prevent any future testing of them for DNA.
3. DNA found under one of Sarah Cherry’s thumbnails, which had inadvertently escaped destruction by the state, was subsequently tested (twice) and found to be that of a male who is not Dennis Dechaine.
** All tests of DNA that could be obtained from any males likely to have come in contact with Sarah or her body also proved negative.
4. No physical or biological evidence links Dennis Dechaine to Sarah Cherry or to the crime.
5. No physical or biological evidence links Dechaine’s truck to Sarah Cherry or the crime. ** Exhaustive examination by the state failed to produce any evidence that Sarah had ever been in the truck. The only scent trail detected by the police tracking dog from Dechaine’s truck led away from where the body would later be found. Three of the four tire tracks in the driveway at the abduction scene were “excluded” from having been made by Dechaine’s truck; one track was of very common tread that was similar to one of Dechaine’s tires.
6. Articles belonging to Dechaine which were found in the driveway and those which were employed in the murder were easily accessible to anyone and could have easliy been removed from the truck by the killer. Photos indicate that the contents of the cab had been “tossed.” Contrary to claims by officials, the lead detectives’s own report shows that the doors could have been locked afterwards without a key.
7. Of more than 180 items in the truck cab, the only two (aside from the registration in the glove box) with Dechaine’s name on them were found in the driveway, positioned ahead of tire tracks. The statistical odds against chance selection are 1.57: 10,000 or 99.9 percent likely.
8. The state’s medical examiner’s testimony indicated that death likely occurred 5 1/2 or more hours after Dechaine’s whereabouts were known by the police. The signigicance of this key finding was obscured in the prosecution’s presentation to the jury. All of the three variables which affect the timing of the passing off of rigor mortis would have served to have increased the time elapsed between Dechaine’s exiting of the woods and Sarah’s death.
9. That Sarah’s head was exposed to plain view, unlike the rest of her body, indicated that the body was “concealed” after dark. Dechaine exited the woods at twilight.
10. Pathologists have stated that Sarah’s neck was constricted to less than 3 inches diameter, making it virtually impossible that she lived for more than a few minutes after being strangled.
11. Dr. George Chase, retired chief pathologist for Eastern Maine Medical Center, after reviewing all the evidence, estimated that death had occurred around 24 hours before autopsy, or, on the day after Dechaine was questioned. Despite the heat-wave conditions, the body exhibited only minor lividity, an indicator of a later time of death.
12. The killer (or killers) had nearly 3 1/2 hours to abduct Sarah and plant the evidence in the driveway. The police did not allow any searching of the area where the body was subsequently found until the scent dog arrived at 2 AM, fourteen hours after it was last known that Sarah was alive. At 2 am–the earliest time of death indicated by the passing off of rigor mortis and an absence of decomposition on the body–officers handling the police tracking dog reported sounds of a commotion emanating from the area where Sarah’s body would be discovered the next day. At the time they attributed the commotion to deer, although they never saw any deer in the area. In view of the timng – i.e. how that time matches the earliest time of death indicated by rigor mortis, lividity and decomposition – the “commotion” was most likely Sarah’s struggle as her killer strangled her.
13. Despite the stated opinion of their own medical examiner, the state contended that when Dechaine met the Buttricks he had just committed lenthy torture ending with a violent murder, yet the Buttricks testified that Dechaine had acted like a gentleman. Dechaine willingly transferred from the Buttrick’s truck to the sheriff’s cruiser. And although he lied to the Buttricks about where he lived, he gave them his real name. He also voluntarily consented to have his truck towed to the state police lab for a scientific search which the lead detective assured him would “put you in or out of this case.” Swabbing, vacuuming and fringerprint testing produced no indication that Sarah had ever been in that truck. The state police tracking dog, given Sarah’s clothes to sniff, detected no trace of Sarah in that truck.
14. The depraved individuals who commit such crimes as this commonly keep a trophy, especially panties, yet Sarah’s missing panties were not found on Dechaine, and have never been found.
15. If Dechaine was the murderer he surely would have found the road, which he would have had to have crossed wth Sarah, and then would surely have found his truck.
16. The torture and murder of Sarah Cherry was an unspeakably horrific crime, yet there is absolutely no record of any violence, depravity, or sexual perversion in Dechaine’s past, or indeed, since. To the contrary, Dechaine is described by those who know him as a kind, gentle, and intelligent man. All psychological evaluations of Dechaine, even by the state’s experts, concluded that he was psychologically normal, and was not in a drug-induced psychosis on the day of the crime.
17. If, as has been suggested, Dechaine acted under the influenceof the drugs he admits to have taken, one must question how no biological evidence of Dechaine was transfered to the girl, and what drug could have so quickly turned a peaceful and gentle man into a fiendish predatory monster, and then as quickly, returned him to the polite you man who the Buttricks described.
18. Testimony by two detectives alleging incriminating statements by Dechaine (which they testified they were reading from their notes) is disputed by the fact, discovered after the legislature ordered the state’s files to be opened, that those detectives’ notes do not contain the alleged incriminating statements.
19. Dechaine’s statement that at one point during his interrogation in the back seat of the cruiser by the police they may have convinced him that he had committed a crime involving a missing girl is entirely consisent with many other cases where individuals with compliant and submissive personalities — even when not under the influence of a drug — after being subjected to prolonged and severe interrogation, have admitted to crimes they did not commit.
20. The claim that Dechaine stated at the jail that he was the one who killed Sarah Cherry and therefore needed to be put in “isolation” doesn’t pass the straight-face test. It is likely that he said he was the one accused of having killed Sarah Cherry, and therefore should be put in isolation. The use of the term ” isolation” (a term rarely if ever used by anyone outside the law enforcement community), rather than the term “solitary” strongly suggests that his request for a cell without cellmates was based on the advice of law enforcement personnel who probably alerted him to criminal inmate violence against accused child killers.