Despite calling the Portland Press Herald reporter following an erroneous story on the recent appeals court denial of Dennis Dechaine’s application (”Federal court rejects Dennis Dechaine’s final appeal of murder conviction,” Oct. 4) his revised story, carried in the Press Herald and the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal, still contains significant errors:

• Both the headline and the lead call this Dechaine’s “last chance at appeal.” This is simply not so, as indicated by Dechaine attorney Steve Peterson, whom the reporter contacted only when urged to following his first story.

• Despite inserting my contesting the fact in the very last paragraph, the story still refers to Dechaine as “the sole suspect” implicated in the crime. Alternative suspect Douglas Senecal appears in the original trial transcript — which the reporter admits not having read — and is the primary focus of Dechaine’s 1992 hearing on his motion for a retrial and also in his most recent hearing before Judge Bradford. I have found 17 different indications of Senecal’s involvement, including evidence of him having confessed to his sister, now deceased. Despite my FOAA request, however, the state cannot locate the written statement she submitted to them just before Dechaine’s 1992 hearing, a statement which in all likelihood would indicate Senecal’s guilt.

• The story refers to Dechaine having “confessed three times,” though there is no actual evidence of this; in fact, examination of two investigators’ notes reveals that they lied on the trial stand when they claimed hearing the alleged confessions.

The recent film “Spotlight,” about the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning exposé of the Catholic Church’s extensive cover-up of its priests’ molestation of children, has one of its characters observe something to the effect that the Globe was part of the problem before it was part of the solution. Is this the case, or is this just the difference between investigative journalism and daily, deadline-driven reporting?

Bernie Huebner


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