October 26, 2004

OCTOBER 26, 2004


Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that he has requested that a retired federal magistrate judge and two prominent Maine attorneys review allegations of misconduct regarding the investigation of the 1988 murder of Sarah Cherry and the conviction of Dennis Dechaine for the crime.

Rowe announced that he asked retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Eugene Beaulieu of Old Town as well as attorneys Charles Abbott of Auburn and Marvin Glazier of Bangor to review certain allegations of misconduct by state prosecutors and law enforcement personnel.  Rowe stated that the three individuals had agreed to review the allegations and issue a report of their findings, which Rowe will make public.

In a letter to the three, Rowe stated:  “I have no reason to believe that these allegations are true.  However, in order to ensure continued public confidence in the Office of the Attorney General as well as other law enforcement agencies in the State of Maine, I request that you conduct an independent and impartial review of these allegations and issue a report of your findings, which I will make public.  To that end, I pledge the complete cooperation of my office.”

Rowe said that he appreciated that Magistrate Judge Beaulieu and Attorneys Abbott and Glazier had agreed to conduct the review.  “These are three of the most highly respected legal professionals in the State of Maine.  I appreciate their willingness to perform this important public service.”


            Specific allegations that Rowe asked to be reviewed are:

        Following their initial investigation, law enforcement officers altered their notes and/or reports to falsely attribute incriminating statements to Dennis Dechaine.

        Prosecutors misled the jury with respect to Sarah Cherry’s time of death.

        At the time of trial, prosecutors and law enforcement officers had information about an alternative suspect which they should have shared, but did not share, with defense counsel.

        In 1992, law enforcement officers, with the approval of prosecutors, inappropriately destroyed physical evidence to include a rape kit as well as hairs and fibers discovered at the scene where Sarah Cherry’s body was found.

        Prosecutors inappropriately failed to notify the court and defense counsel of a consultant’s opinion regarding the reliability of an outside laboratory and DNA tests conducted in 1993.


The Attorney General’s Office will offer no public comment on the review until the review is completed. 

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