ME - Sarah Cherry, 12, murdered in 1988 - "Trial & Error" group working to free man

Discussion in 'Past Trial Discussion Threads' started by mysteriew, Nov 28, 2005.

  1. mysteriew

    mysteriew A diamond in process

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    The Augusta chapter meets at Pat Christopher's house on the third Wednesday of every month. On the last Monday, the Madawaska chapter convenes above the police station. And on the fourth Tuesday are meetings of the Auburn-Lewiston and Freedom-Belfast chapters.

    Sarah Cherry, 12, was raped and killed in the woods of Maine in 1988.

    These are not book groups or penny poker games. At these meetings, the topic might be DNA under a murdered girl's thumbnail or the time of death in a coroner's report.

    And the attendees have an unusually zealous mission: freeing a man convicted 16 years ago of what many consider to be Maine's most notorious crime.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/28/n...200&en=d2543b821a81458c&ei=5099&partner=TOPIX
     
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  3. Marilynilpa

    Marilynilpa New Member

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    I have never heard of this group. How unusual for a group to form specifically for the purpose of getting this man out of jail.

    From what I read, it certainly sounds as if there was a good circumstantial case against the man for this murder. But in the heat of investigating the brutal killing of a young girl, it's possible LE made some errors (or planted evidence???).

    It will be interesting to see how effective this group is in obtaining this man's freedom.
     
  4. KarlK

    KarlK New Member

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    I'm not surprised since these groups focus on a local case in Maine.



    I was living in Maine at the time of the murder and even though I personally don't have an opinion on the matter for lack of factual knowledge, I recall that many people were convinced that the investigation had been mishandled.

    The judicial system in Maine, which is one of the few states that never had the death penalty (it would even be illegal there to execute individuals convicted of a Federal capital offense in the state), prides itself in taking the utmost precaution against wrongful convictions, an attitude dating back to the Pilgrims apparently. This is even truer of cases involving a heinous crime such as this one.

    While such a case probably wouldn't be cause for serious concern in most states in Maine convictions based purely on circumstantial evidence are frequently overturned in appelate courts. The result, according to some, is that LE may be enticed to attempt at building a stronger case by using dubious means of obtaining evidence. As far as I know there is no proof of evidence tampering happening on a regular basis but public opinion takes it into account nonetheless and so do legislators, for obvious political considerations.

    It will indeed.
     
  5. Marilynilpa

    Marilynilpa New Member

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    Have you heard anything more about this case? It's been quite some time since I posted my last message, and haven't had a chance to keep up with this.
     
  6. KarlK

    KarlK New Member

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    This detailed timeline linked below should bring you up to speed with the case, which is still very active.

    http://www.trialanderrordennis.org/chronology.shtml

    Dechaine appears to be an unlikely suspect. For those who think it's odd for someone to roam the woods without apparent purpose let me tell you that up there in northern Maine during the summer people do that all the time riding ATV's, trail bikes, SUV's, bicycles, cars even, or just walking about exploring trails of which there are hundreds in the mountains. It's like talking a walk in the park in the city when the weather is nice. Dechaine's presence in the woods would have seem perfectly normal to locals, despite the prosecution's claim that this behavior was suspicious.

    Like I said before I don't think I know enough about the case to base a definitive opinion upon, but if the ME's time of death is accurate, and it should be since the body was found shortly after death, then it's unlikely that Dechaine had anything to do with the murder. There is also Dechaine's character, a well regarded, highly educated married man with nothing in his background indicative of sexual deviancy. It would seem logical that whoever took Cherry probably knew her and knew that she would be on her own babysitting that day so I probably would focus on relatives and friends first. There appears to be no physical evidence linking Dechaine with Cherry and the circumstantial evidence should actually have played in his favor with regards to the time of death. Maybe the competence of Dechaine's legal team should be questioned.
     
  7. Marilynilpa

    Marilynilpa New Member

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    Thanks much for the update, KarlK. I need to get "up to speed" on this one.
     
  8. Starlight

    Starlight New Member

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    I was wondering if this 'Trial & Error' group has ever looked into any other cases? I've got a few that I'd certainly like to get some other people interested in, and see if we could figure out how to get the real killer nailed instead of innocent men. Yeah, I'm tracking a serial killer, and he's gotten by with soooooo much, because no one will consider him, even though there's a mountain of circumstantial evidence against him.
     
  9. KarlK

    KarlK New Member

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    As far as I know "Trial and Error" groups are exclusively dedicated to the Dechaine case but since they've been working on it for so long I would imagine that some members have acquired expertise (and a taste for) investigative reviews and judicial analysis.

    I'm not sure that's what you're looking for, perhaps the Vidocq Society would consider your case if you submitted it. They are more into unsolved murders than Trial and Error.

    http://www.vidocq.org/
     
  10. Starlight

    Starlight New Member

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  11. KarlK

    KarlK New Member

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    Yes, I think you are right about Vidocq. They are rather picky.

    I guess your best bet could be the folks who successfully lobbied Illinois Governor Ryan to suspend the death penalty in that state due to the high number of cases of judicial errors,malicious prosecuting and incompetent defense. Unfortunately I don't remember what this group calls itself :(
     
  12. mysteriew

    mysteriew A diamond in process

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    There is a group called The Innocence Project I've seen their name attached to some people who have been released from prison. There are a lot of links for the project in each individual state if you do a search on innocence project. The Innocence Project is the ones who got Steven Avery out of prison. Info at the bottom of the page at link
    http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=579038

    Truth in Justice is also about the wrongly convicted.
     
  13. Starlight

    Starlight New Member

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    Yes, I'm familiar with the 'Innocence Projects,' and once spoke to David Protess in Ill. concerning one of the cases that I am interested in. He encouraged me to not give up, but said he only worked Illinois cases. Well, I haven't given up, but the cases are stacking up to the point that I can't keep up with them, and I've gone about as far as a common citizen can go. I've written a book series about many of the cases; http://users.1st.net/mwells/Pure.htm
    and I've posted a great deal of information on my web site in hopes that the right people would some day come along. So far it hasn't happened. Maybe tomorrow.
    http://users.1st.net/mwells/SymbolicCases.htm
    http://users.1st.net/mwells/WithoutATraceSeries.htm
    http://users.1st.net/mwells/Lookin4AKiller.htm
     
  14. mysteriew

    mysteriew A diamond in process

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    I don't know what state you are looking for. But if you run the keywords Project Innocence in google, you will find many states have them.
     
  15. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Former Member

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    New DNA Being Tested From 1988 Murder of Sarah Cherry

    Additional testing on clothing belonging to a 12-year-old Maine girl who was murdered in 1988 has revealed male DNA, but it's too early to say what the evidence means.

    The DNA has not yet been compared with other samples, including DNA from Dennis Dechaine, the man serving a life sentence after being convicted of killing Sarah Cherry of Bowdoin.

    More: http://www.wabi.tv/news/33696/new-dna-being-test-from-1988-murder-of-sarah-cherry
     
  16. Blondie in Spokane

    Blondie in Spokane Well-Known Member

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    I've followed this case for years and just found this thread. Thanks for posting it mysteriew!

    I've always felt that Dennis was railroaded.....years ago I watched Jerry Palace cover it for Court TV's "The Wrong Man" series and I was absolutely convinced that he had been wrongly convicted. This poor guy is still locked up! Here's a link to it

    http://www.trialanderrordennis.org/2012/09/court-tv-investigates/

    I miss watching The Wrong Man....really good documentaries...)
     
  17. Blondie in Spokane

    Blondie in Spokane Well-Known Member

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    Here's an article referencing the Cherry case.....

    Maine Supreme Court rejects DNA-based appeal in Bowdoin murder

    http://www.sunjournal.com/news/main...-court-rejects-dna-based-appeal-bowdo/1311443

    "Peterson said Wednesday that DNA testing in the case is continuing. He said Dechaine’s case has some similarities with the Reese case, but also some key differences. Among them is that DNA testing through the years reportedly has excluded numerous people, including most of the investigators on the case."

    "Peterson said the evidence against Reese was much stronger than the evidence against Dechaine, though prosecutors and investigators who were involved in the Dechaine case have said repeatedly that the circumstantial evidence against Dechaine leaves little doubt of his guilt."

    "Another major difference is that during the Dechaine trial, DNA evidence was not introduced, nor was an alternative suspect theory."
     
  18. Blondie in Spokane

    Blondie in Spokane Well-Known Member

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    More DNA tests OK'd in Dechaine murder case

    "More DNA testing in convicted murderer Dennis Dechaine’s bid for a new trial was approved Thursday by the State Attorney General’s Office and a superior court justice who has presided over the case for 23 years."

    "Steven Peterson, Dechaine’s defense attorney, said Friday that Superior Court Justice Carl O. Bradbord agreed during a telephone conference Thursday to continue testing on evidence from the 1988 murder of 11-year-old Sarah Cherry. Specifically, according to Peterson, tests will be conducted on the shirt that was worn by Cherry when she was kidnapped, tortured and killed in the town of Bowdoin."

    "In recent months, new methods of DNA testing have been used on some of Cherry’s clothing, which Peterson said could implicate an alternative suspect in the case, though neither Peterson nor Assistant Attorney General William Stokes would discuss who that person is. Peterson said the further testing, which involves more DNA analysis as well as the computerized evaluation of that data, including comparisons to DNA databases, is an attempt to home in on whom the DNA on the evidence belongs to. DNA testing in the case in recent years has revealed adult male DNA under Cherry’s fingernails that did not come from Dechaine. The testing has now shifted to Cherry’s clothing."

    "Peterson said the defense is paying for the testing, and that the new analysis could likely take a couple of months. After that, Peterson said the case would appear again in court to determine the defense’s next steps."

    http://www.sunjournal.com/news/0001/11/30/more-dna-tests-okd-dechaine-murder-case/1312677
     
  19. StarrChance

    StarrChance Active Member

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