July 16, 2010

Dechaine indicted following suicide try

By Matt Wickenheiser mwickenheiser@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

A Knox County grand jury has indicted convicted murder Dennis Dechaine on trafficking in prison contraband following a suicide attempt at the state prison in Warren.

In a letter sent this week to The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, Dechaine said he had “ingested a combination of prescription drugs in an attempt to end my life.”

Dechaine, 52, is serving a life sentence for the 1988 murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry in Bowdoin. The Madawaska native has maintained his innocence through four unsuccessful appeals – as have a number of friends, family and others – and the case has been the subject of both legal and media interest over the years. This fall, he is expected to get a hearing before the judge who originally convicted him on whether Dechaine should get a new trial based primarily on a microscopic fragment of unidentified male DNA extracted from Cherry’s clipped thumbnail.

Dechaine was hospitalized on April 5. His brother said Dechaine was near death, but prison officials have refused to comment, citing confidentiality laws. According to the indictment handed down July 13, Dechaine had in his custody morphine and Klonopine, a drug used to treat seizure and panic disorders.

Dechaine wrote in the letter that he was acknowledging the suicide attempt publicly because he was being charged criminally in the case.

“I have been imprisoned 22 years and the soul crushing monotony, boredom, institutional food, pervasive violence, 24 hour lights, near constant noise, harsh treatment, myriad petty rules, lack of resources, loss of potential, separation from family and friends, along with a raft of other negativity, simply conspired to erode my will to live,” Dechaine wrote in the letter dated July 10.

Dechaine’s letter detailed frustration with his case, and called his suicide attempt “a reasonable response to an intolerable situation.”

To read more about the Dechaine case and watch a video interview with Dechaine, visit our multimedia package.

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