At a recent event at Lithgow Library, Deputy Attorney General Bill Stokes talked about the 1983 Judy Flagg murder case, which eventually was solved with DNA collected from her fingernails.

Stokes claimed that DNA testing in Maine began in the early 1990s. Documents presented at the June 2012 hearing in the Dennis Dechaine case at which Stokes opposed further DNA testing, however, showed that on July 15, 1988, the Maine State Police crime lab submitted evidence from the Flagg case for DNA testing to Lifecodes Corp. This was six days after the body of Sarah Cherry was found, contradicting Stokes’ frequent claims that Maine officials then knew little about DNA science, or the contamination and preservation of DNA evidence.

At the March 1989 trial of Dechaine for Sarah’s murder, the state opposed DNA testing, dismissing its possible probative value, and Judge Carl Bradford agreed, despite Dechaine’s offer to pay for the testing. (Serological testing already had eliminated Dechaine as a donor to mixed blood found on fingernail clippings).

Dr. David Bing, a DNA expert, later wrote: “The state and the state’s experts provided misleading and factually incorrect testimony upon which the Court relied.”

In 1992, after Dechaine filed an appeal, the state incinerated items of evidence likely containing DNA, including fingernail clippings. Stokes dismissed the significance of unknown male DNA later discovered on a clipping that, inadvertently, had escaped destruction.

On Thursday, Stokes once again will appear before Judge Bradford to oppose Dechaine’s request for a retrial.

May Stokes find the facts of the case to be less elusive than in the past, and may Judge Bradford finally see the truth behind the state’s past illusions.

William BuntingWhitefield

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