June 16, 2013

Letters to the editor: Dechaine in wrong place for justice

The clock keeps ticking against Dennis Dechaine -- 9,104 days, or 24-plus years -- for a crime that DNA taken from the victim's thumbnail and other data, including time of death evidence, show he did not commit.

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The Maine Attorney General’s Office is “conspicuously absent” from a list of people and groups supporting a retrial for Dennis Dechaine, above, in a 12-year-old girl’s 1988 slaying, a reader says.

2012 File Photo/John Ewing

The list of organizations and individuals advocating a new trial for the Madawaska native and former Bowdoinham businessman is impressive: the Innocence Project, Court TV, famed lawyer F. Lee Bailey, former Maine Attorney General Jon Lund, former Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent and author James Moore, a great majority of present and past legislators, an increasing plurality of polled Maine citizens and even some prison guards and other Department of Corrections personnel.

Conspicuously absent from the list is the Maine Attorney General's Office. In fact, our own top law enforcement agency has opposed most of the legislation that might help bring justice to the Dechaine case.

It testified against my post-conviction DNA bill, which makes a new trial possible for any inmate who can provide new DNA evidence that could have led the jury to reach a different verdict. Fortunately, the Legislature passed the bill, and the governor signed it into law.

Not only was Dechaine in the wrong place at the wrong time, he has been in the wrong state for more than 24 years. In many states, including Texas, where enlightened, justice-oriented attorneys general serve, he would be a free man by outright release led by the attorney general.

Twenty-four years ago, Dechaine was betrayed by an overzealous prosecuting attorney and by a court that refused to allow DNA testing. Hopefully, this dark chapter in the annals of Maine's judiciary will forever be expunged in the near future.

Ross Paradis

former state representative

Frenchville

Backyard chicken suppliers perpetuate animal cruelty

As backyard chickens become popular ("Backyard chickens: Mainers 'give peeps a chance' -- even in Portland neighborhoods," June 9), it is important to note that the industrial hatcheries that provide egg-laying chicks to suppliers like Paris Farmers Union and Agway are also in the business of grinding up the vast majority of male chicks that also hatch.

This is referred to as "maceration," and this practice is considered a humane alternative to suffocating them in a trash bin. Male chicks are valuable only as a source of fertilizer and ingredient in pet food because the egg-layer breed of chicken is a skinnier bird and not profitable when compared to the chicken that is raised for its meat.

The American Humane Association has repeatedly called for the adoption of humane standards that take into account the entire life cycle of farm animals, but chickens continue to be the least protected group of farm animals.

Probably the most effective means of promoting cruelty-free chickens and eggs would be to get our elected representatives to introduce bills and write statutory laws that the U.S. Department of Agriculture can enforce.

Right now, it is possible to determine the sex of an embryonic chick early in its gestation, but additional research and funding need to be invested to make this a viable economic option. Likewise, the egg industry should also do the right thing and promote truly humane practices.

Lega Medcalf

Bridgton

Research, support needed amid Alzheimer's epidemic

Currently the sixth leading cause of death, Alzheimer's is the only cause of death among the top 10 causes without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression.

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