Dennis Dechaine has unsuccessfully challenged his 1989 murder conviction of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry in every legal jurisdiction available to him. Maine’s highest court recently denied his latest appeal for a new trial.

Subsequently, a newspaper commentary (“It is time for Dechaine’s Trial & Error champions to lay his case to rest,” July 23) by Greg Kesich, editorial page editor at the Portland Press Herald, sensibly crusaded for a conclusion of this 26-year legal saga.

Predictably, William Bunting’s retaliation (“Trial & Error will disband only after Dechaine retrial,” July 29) echoes 26 years of blatant disregard of ample trial evidence pointing to Dechaine’s guilt. What part of Dechaine’s trial court record supporting the jury’s verdict of guilty doesn’t Bunting understand?

In earlier repetitive goings-on, Dechaine and champions clad in supportive T-shirts, contended he was framed by “someone” who could have kidnapped Sarah and planted papers from Dechaine’s truck in the driveway of the house where she was kidnapped. That contention was invalidated when the trial record showed his truck was locked at all material times. Moreover, Dechaine had secretly placed his truck keys behind his seat in the police cruiser, allowing him to later claim they were missing.

At trial, Dechaine stood hip deep in circumstantial evidence. Sarah Cherry was stabbed to death by a small blade, tied up with rope matching a piece in Dechaine’s barn, gagged with a scarf belonging to Dechaine and his papers were found at the last place Sarah was seen alive. The penknife Dennis kept on his key chain had vanished.

Fifteen years of appellate cases in Maine’s attorney general’s office led me to a decision by Maine’s Supreme Court, authored by Chief Justice Armand Dufresne. The reason circumstantial evidence is basis for conviction is legendary. The decision even quotes Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” presenting in laymen’s language how circumstantial evidence “works.” In “Hamlet,” Lord Polonious insists,”If circumstances lead me, I will find where truth is hid.”

I respectfully add “Amen” to Kesich’s compelling conclusion: “It’s time to leave this case alone, and let Sarah Cherry rest in peace.”

John Benoit, of Manchester, a former state senator, also was a Maine district court judge from 1975-1992.


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