Trial and Error

The Outcry for Justice in the Dennis Dechaine Case

Trial & Error Newsletter - May 2017

Dear Supporters:

Carol’s PC is the only computer that is able to distribute our newsletter. The initial delay in sending out this newsletter was caused by her computer’s malfunction. Then, far worse, Carol’s husband Jesse was diagnosed with lung cancer, and while Carol was in Philadelphia, where Jesse is being treated, the computer was back in Madawaska. Now the computer has joined Carol and Jesse in Philadelphia.

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 A gofundme page for Jesse may be found at https://www.gofundme.com/cancer-sucks-help-jesse-fund

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LD677, the proposed law described in the last newsletter, failed to win any support in the Judiciary Committee. To review :

Our legal system is based on the concept that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. While this is an admirable concept, as with anything carried out by fallible humans, it is far from perfect in practice.

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Trial & Error Newsletter - September, 2016

NEW WEBSITE GOES LIVE

Dear Supporters,

Dennis is still waiting for the federal 1st Circuit Court of Appeals to respond to his second successive habeas application, which he wrote and filed pro se, i.e., by and for himself.  (A habeas corpus appeal asks the federal court to "bring me the body," or in simpler language, if successful, is a federal court order that forces the prisoner's jailer to allow him or her to appear in federal court to appeal a miscarriage of justice.  If denied, there is no right to appeal the denial   If the 1st Circuit grants his application, Dennis will be allowed to present his claims in a federal district court in Maine and request an evidentiary hearing.  Being granted the right to proceed on a second successive habeas motion is one of the most difficult hurdles in our judicial system. Please keep Dennis in your thoughts.

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Trial & Error Newsletter - August 2016

THANK YOU, COURIER PUBLICATIONS

Dear Supporters,

Please find here the third installment of Jordan Bailey’s investigative report on Dennis’s case as published in the Courier-Gazette and in other Courier Publications papers; a Courier editorial on the case; and a letter to the editor submitted by Bill Bunting. Jordan Bailey encouraged Bill to submit a letter after he contacted her regarding an issue raised by her report.

For the record, Jordan’s report of the discovery of documentary evidence that sperm had been recovered from Sarah was in error. She had not realized that a document she had found related to another case. 

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Trial & Error Newsletter - July 2016

DENNIS FILES APPEAL TO FEDERAL COURT

Dear Supporters,

In the lengthy interval since the last newsletter there has been a good deal of activity behind the scenes. Investigations concerning possible alternative suspects have been pursued. After extensive consultations with legal experts, Dennis decided that the best course to take for his second successive habeas application was to file pro se, or “for himself,” and request court-appointed counsel.

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Trial & Error Newsletter – December 23, 2015

Dec 23, 2015

FORENSICS EXPERT EXPLAINS WHY DENNIS IS INNOCENT

Dear Supporters,

Jim Moore’s remarkable investigation established time-of-death as a central exculpatory element in Dennis’s case. In 2009 two renowned forensic pathologists, Dr. Cyril Wecht and Dr. Walter Hofman, after independently studying the autopsy report, crime scene photographs, meteorological records, and other related evidence, determined that time-of-death science ruled Dennis out as the killer. The Attorney General’s Office opposed allowing their findings to be considered in court, and Judge Bradford and the Maine Supreme Judicial Court agreed.

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Trial & Error Newsletter – October 7th, 2015

Oct 7, 2015

FAIRGOERS OVERWHEMINGLY FAVOR RETRIAL

Dear Supporters,

The 2015 Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine again included a Trial & Error booth. In addition to offering information about Dennis’s case, this year’s booth featured a tally sheet so fairgoers could indicate if they were for or against a retrial. The idea was the brainchild of T&E board member Bernie Huebner.

While only a fraction of the 50,000 people who attended the three-day fair found their way to the Political-Action Tent, let alone to our booth, we were encouraged by the results. At the end of the weekend, the tally was 154 in favor of a retrial, and 4 against.

Read more: Trial &...

Trial & Error Newsletter – September, 2015

Sep 14, 2015

NOT GOING AWAY UNTIL JUSTICE IS DONE

Dear Supporters:

The following is a series of recent opinion pieces and letters to the editor concerning Dennis’s case. In short, the media are saying that Trial and Error should accept defeat; our replies below indicate our belief in the opposite.

If you are similarly motivated, please consider writing your own letter to the editor. And, of course, we welcome your financial contributions as well, as the costs involved in obtaining and finally undergoing a new trial are substantial.

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Trial & Error Newsletter – May, 2015

May 12, 2015

May 2015 Newsletter

Dear Supporters:

Just a reminder about the May 14th Maine Supreme Court hearing on the Dennis Dechaine case.

If you cannot make it to the hearing, here are two things to consider:

  1. You can also listen to the hearing using the live-streaming link at http://www.courts.maine.gov/maine_courts/supreme/stream.shtml. The recording will be available for up to two weeks after the hearing.
  1. Please take a few moments to consider sending a letter to the press with your concerns.
    For Kennebec Journal/ Morning Sentinel 300 word limit   
    For Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram  300 word limit   
    For Bangor Daily News 250 word limit      http://bangordailynews.com/opinion/submit/
    For Sun Journal  250 word limit 
    For Brunswick Times Record  350 word limit     
    For Lincoln County News    

Here is a great example of a letter that was posted recently in the Portland Press Herald:

Read more: Trial & Error...

April 2015 Newsletter

Apr 20, 2015

TRIAL & ERROR NEWSLETTERApril 4, 2015

Maine Supreme Court to hear Denniss case in May; poll shows Mainers favor retrial by almost 2-1

We received word this week that the Maine Supreme Judicial Court (aka the Law Court) will hear oral arguments in Dennis’s case on May 14th. The proceeding will start at 10 a.m. at the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland and will be the last chance for the case to be heard by a Maine court.

The trial in which Dennis was convicted was held in 1989 and has been followed by a series of denied attempts to gain a retrial. Should the current appeal also be denied in May, he and his legal team plan to file a federal appeal.

Read more: April 2015...

Trial & Error Newsletter – January 18, 2015

Jan 31, 2015

HELP US SPREAD THE WECHT INTERVIEW

Dear Supporters,

Have you had a chance yet to watch the interview with forensics expert Dr. Cyril Wecht? If not, we urge you to take in this compelling —in fact, riveting— explanation of why the time-of-death evidence makes it impossible for Dennis Dechaine to have committed the crime for which he has been imprisoned for more than 27 years.

You can watch the interview with Dr. Wecht on the homepage of our website at www.trialanderrordennis.org. We have set it up so that viewers can watch the clip entirely on the homepage, then scroll down below the video box and open links to watch or read interviews with Dennis, Court TV’s feature on the case, former AG Jon Lund’s letter calling for a retrial, and more. On the right-hand side of the page is information on how to download a Kindle version of Jim Moore’s book Human Sacrifice: on the Altar of Injustice and how to donate to Trial and Error.

Read more: Trial & Error...

Trial & Error Newsletter – September, 2014

Sep 12, 2014

Dear Supporters:

Once again we thank you for your continued support and ask that you please forward this newsletter to all in your address book. As always, for the latest on the case, please visit our website at www.trialanderrordennis.org.

The Status of Denniss Case

In April, 2014, semi-retired Judge Carl Bradford, the trial judge, issued his final denial regarding Dennis’s motion for a new trial under Maine’s 2006 revised post-conviction DNA statute. This motion had originally been filed (under the old statute) in 2003.

The revised statute requires that, “The DNA test results, when considered with all the other evidence in this case, old and new . . . would make it probable that a different verdict would result upon a new trial.” Judge Bradford ruled that this wording applied strictly to DNA evidence, and to evidence admitted in the trial and previous hearings. Thus, he would not allow the introduction of any additional evidence other than DNA evidence.

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April 10, 2014 T&E Newsletter

Apr 10, 2014

Dear Supporters,

As most of you will have heard by now, on April 10 Judge Bradford posted his decision denying Dennis’s motion for a retrial under the provisions of the revised post-conviction DNA statute. It was a long time coming, and no great surprise, although we couldn’t help but hope. In Bradford’s opinion, according to his ruling, even if the members of the jury had heard testimony concerning DNA evidence uncovered since the trial they still would have found Dennis guilty. Judge Bradford interpreted the statute in the narrowest possible way and would not consider any post-trial findings or evidence other than that involving DNA. The fact that one of the original jurors is on record as saying that he would not have voted to convict had he known of the presence of unidentified DNA under Sarah Cherry’s thumbnail thus was not considered. Nor were the findings of two distinguished forensic pathologists that time-of-death science eliminated Dennis as the killer.  Bradford’s position is even more unsupportable given that recent rulings by Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court — the “Law Court” — back a much broader interpretation of what constitutes admissible evidence under the revised post-conviction DNA statute than that which Bradford employed.

Read more: April 10,...

TRIAL & ERROR NEWSLETTER

Feb 28, 2014

On the character of Dennis Dechaine

Dear Supporters:

As the holidays approached, Dennis was thrilled to hear from Aaron Kinzel, a former inmate at Maine State Prison who has undergone a remarkable transformation. In the following letter to Trail & Error, Aaron tells how Dennis influenced his development, and he offers a special insight into who Dennis Dechaine is.

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Read more: TRIAL & ERROR...

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