Since it is not against the law to attempt to commit suicide, Dennis Dechaine is to be persecuted, er, prosecuted for having traces of prescription drugs in his blood.

“Trafficking” makes great headlines, even though legally the charge is a real stretch, and morally it is indefensible — talk about kicking a guy when he is down!

No matter. The Maine Attorney General’s Office — and until told otherwise we can assume the local district attorney is a puppet for the state — has shown no shame over having sealed the records on the Dechaine case; incinerated evidence; opposed DNA testing and the findings of its own psychological experts; presented perjured testimony; obscured the time of death, etc.

If Dechaine receives five years for trying to commit suicide, but is later exonerated on the wrongful murder conviction, do you suppose our attorney general will insist that he serve the five years before being freed? It’s a fair question.

William Bunting


In the Dennis Dechaine case, DNA proves the wrong man has been in prison for 22 years.

I applaud Trevor Maxwell for his in-depth investigative story about the Sarah Cherry murder case and owner Richard Connor for publishing it. The two-part special report in the Maine Sunday Telegram and the multimedia information presented on The Portland Press Herald website are outstanding.

DNA technology has been used successfully by the Innocence Project to exonerate over 250 wrongfully convicted individuals. The Innocence Project lawyers believe the DNA profile found in the Cherry case is significant enough for Dechaine to be granted a new trial.

How can Maine prosecutors say that DNA in the Dechaine case is irrelevant? How can the head of the Criminal Division of the Attorney General’s Office, William Stokes, say with a straight face that the DNA evidence from the 1988 Cherry case came from “dirty” nail clippers?

Stokes recently argued and won the case against Thomas Mitchell for the 1984 murder of Judith Flagg of Fayette using DNA evidence extracted from Flagg’s fingernail clippings. The AG’s office felt that DNA technology was relevant enough in the Flagg case to send material for testing in the summer of 1988, yet it opposed DNA testing to be done in 1989 in the Cherry case, saying that the technology was too new. Then-Judge Carl Bradford denied Dechaine’s request.

I commend the AG’s office for the conviction of Mitchell; however, the same degree of importance concerning DNA evidence should be used when it proves a wrongful conviction.

It is becoming abundantly clear that the Attorney General’s Office can no longer be objective when it comes to the Dechaine case. For prosecutors, it is no longer about finding the truth but about upholding the jury’s verdict.

Nancy Farrin


I am saddened that Dennis Dechaine has again made the headlines of your paper.

Have people forgotten that Sarah Cherry was brutally murdered by this man who was convicted by a jury of his peers? The series published unfortunately did not show the overwhelming evidence that convicted this man.

Was his suicide attempt just another ploy to elicit sympathy, or was the fact that he may get a new trial and be convicted on the evidence too real?

He again places the blame on the state for possibly facing new charges for something he did wrong.

I ask all to remember Sarah and the terror, pain and fear that she went through. The “soul-crushing boredom, institutional food, pervasive violence, 24-hour lighting, harsh treatment, myriad petty rules, loss of potential and the separation from family and friends” pales in comparison.

Let Sarah and her family be at peace.

Christine Beckwith-Huot

New Gloucester

With all the passion, facts, fiction and misinformation around the guilt or innocence of Dennis Dechaine, it’s hard to keep one’s eyes on the prize — certainty about the perpetrator without doubt.

My fervent hope is that Justice Carl Bradford will allow a new trial so that all the evidence — old and new — can be laid on the table.

I believe the citizenry, the law enforcement community, the family and friends of Sarah Cherry, those of us who have followed this case since 1988 and certainly the AG’s office and the judiciary want justice — a fair, impartial, honest conclusion reached from consideration of true events and scientific data.

I believe there is more than reasonable doubt as to Dechaine’s guilt. Once that is recognized, we can get on with following other lines of investigation and maybe find a child’s killer.

Charlotte Henderson


Trevor Maxwell has done a stellar job again reporting on the Dennis Dechaine case. With all the facts of the case so thoroughly laid out, only questions remain.

The state’s case is based solely on items from Dechaine’s truck. Would the state have incinerated hairs, clothing and swabs if they showed any evidence whatsoever that Sarah had contact with Dennis or his truck?

If Sarah Cherry’s hands were bound in front of her and had her own blood on them, how could Dennis emerge from the woods without a drop of blood on him?

If no forensic evidence was found in Dennis’ truck, how could he drive her three miles from where she was babysitting to the woods?

How could he have carried her 350 feet into the woods without any trace evidence on either of them? Why was no missing article of Sarah’s clothing or a knife found on Dennis, or anywhere else?

What guilty person asks for DNA testing to be done? There are potentially thousands of people worldwide whose DNA would match the partial profile in this case. But Dennis Dechaine is not one of them!

William Stokes, the head of the Criminal Division of the Attorney General’s Office, states that DNA on a murder victim’s fingers doesn’t automatically identify the killer. But it certainly rules one out! The state would have relied heavily on this DNA evidence had it been a match for Dechaine.

Stokes states: “With partial profiles, you have to be careful because you may actually implicate a lot of innocent people.”

Is Mr. Stokes more concerned about implicating an innocent person whose DNA does match the profile than he is about implicating an innocent person whose DNA does not match the profile? Let’s have a new trial where all the evidence is presented. Let’s finally have a fair trial.

Susan Pastore


Access to natural gas provides heat alternative

If the state was serious about reducing our dependency on fuel oil for heating, it would strongly encourage anyone with access to natural gas to convert from fuel oil. I replaced a 10-year-old “state of the art” oil boiler with a condensing-on-demand natural gas boiler and saw a 60 percent reduction in heating and hot water costs for the duplex I own and live in.

Even with future price fluctuations and political concerns, the fact that the supply of natural gas is basically North American indicates a more stable supply.

I now do my laundry in hot water and take longer showers. I love it! If anyone has natural gas on their street, they should do some homework and check it out. I did, and I could not be more pleased.

Kurt Christiansen


A well-run Postal Service still has much to offer

Wild deficits, a historic recession and broken business models around the world. Is it any wonder why the Postal Service is losing revenue?

Yet instead of working to retain and enlist more customers, postal management seems intent to turn them away.

Faced with an uncertain future, most businesses would promote service and value, yet the Postal Service’s response is to cut services and raise rates.

The problem is not the first-class monopoly cited by The Portland Press Herald in an editorial (“Let other firms compete with postal service,” July 8). The problem is yet another doomed business model presented by postal management.

The Postal Service is a great organization that is necessary to ensure that everyday citizens can communicate across this great country. No other public service is as revered or as essential to preserving our country’s basic social functions.

Since 1775 the Postal Service has delivered to every farm and hamlet and provided a home connection for our troops overseas and we do it all for 44 cents.

Does the Press Herald really believe that FedEx could deliver a letter from Fort Kent to San Diego for 44 cents? If so, then the newspaper’s business model is in more trouble then I thought.

Why is it that whenever the Postal Service is in the news, the Press Herald jumps on its soap box and proclaims that privatizing the Postal Service is the answer? Does the dramatic decline in newspaper sales set the example for us to follow?

The dedicated, honest and trustworthy postal employees are ready to help. The American Postal Workers Union has proposed that if the Postal Service stops giving the lobbyist-induced discounts to large mailers, then union workers will process all the parcels for free. How’s that for a bargain?

The union is ready, willing and able to help the Postal Service though these tough times, and it’s time for postal management to reassess their strategy and develop a business plan that cuts rates and increases service to our valued customers.

Timothy Doughty

President, Local 458 American Postal Workers Union Freeport

I read with interest and some disdain, your editorial on the Postal Service. Your piece was off balance, to say the least, and lacked some major facts.

The USPS is required by law to fund future retiree health benefits, and has been overcharged $75 billion since 2006 with the passing of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. The USPS would be profitable if not for this glaring oversight.

The recession has hit the USPS as well. With people not buying as much, the companies that sell products are sending less mail. In the event the recession ends, we very well could see a large increase in the volume of mailings.

A full 33 percent of Americans do not have Internet access, for whatever reason. While the Internet has been a huge part of revenue loss, it cannot connect the other 100 million Americans without it to the world. We deliver to every RFD box in this country — be it in extreme northern Maine or extreme west Montana.

And we have elderly who depend on us, whether it is for medications or a letter.

The USPS is and will be a viable institution for many years to come. I am not sure Fedex and UPS will want the letter business, and if they do, expect the 44-cent fee to be higher.

For the record, I am a 15-year veteran letter carrier with the USPS. I just thought I’d set the record straight.

Keith Lewis