Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Direct Testimony of Dennis Dechaine in the murder of Sarah Cherry


Testimony extracts are taken from

My opinion and summarization of Dennis Dechaine's testimony is here :

Page 136

Q    Mr. Dechaine, did you kidnap and murder Sarah Cherry?
A    No, I did not


Pages 136-155 He is questioned about his life, marriage and business history. He is very direct, specific and unwavering in his answers.

Suddenly on page 156 he is questioned about his drug use and his answers change dramatically.

Q    What I want to do is have you discuss for the jury when you first got involved in recreational use of drugs.
Do you recall when that first was?
A    Yes, I would say high school.
Q    What year in high school?
A    Probably my sophomore year.
Q    What did that consist of?
A    Smoking marijuana.
Q    Do you recall your first experience with marijuana?
A    I guess I can say I did, yes.

Q    With reference to cocaine use, did your use of coke increase over a period of time?
A    No, From the first time?
Q    Yes.
A    Yes, I would have to say it increased in that I did it again.
Q    How long after your first use did you use it again, approximately?
A    It was years, I would be guessing as to exactly when.
Q    A substantial time away?
A    Yes. Maybe a year or two or more.
Q    In the interim did you still use marijuana occasionally?
A    Yes.
Q    Did you use any other drugs intravenously?
A    No. I never did. Not at that time.

On page 10 he claims to only have ever used amphetamines once before.. and the second time he used them was on the day of the murder, July 6th, 1988.

On page 162:

Q    When you were at Madawaska was that an intravenous experience?
A    Yes. And one more time after that where I had been given some, and Nancy, and her discovering me using it at our home.
Q    Were there any other times that you used anything intravenous?
A    No.
Q    Other than the times you described how often have you used cocaine other than those three or four times?
A    I believe I snorted on more than one occasion. Probably another two or three times.
Q    Were those large quantities or small quantities?
A    Small quantities. Small quantities,

Page 164 - 165

He buys the one dose of speed in a bathroom in Boston

Q    What happened?
A    Nancy and I had some mutual friends, a young couple, I believe they are our age, that lived in 'Basx. And they were soon to leave for Bangladesh. We went down to Boston to basically see them off. And we spent the weekend there. One of the days that we were with them we visited the science museum in Boston, and in the lavatory of that museum I observed a transaction and made my own purchase as a result of that.
Q    Briefly explain what you saw. How did the transaction come about?
A    Well, what I was looking at was money being exchanged for something. And the fellow taking the money caught my eye and he said basically what the hell are you looking at. And I said nothing. I'm just curious. He asked me if I was interested. I said what he was selling.

Q    What did you do?
A    He told me he was selling speed and I purchased some from him.
Q    Was that preplanned?
A    Absolutely not, no.
Q    What were you told about the drug that you purchased?
A    That it was street speed. At that time I really didn't know what that meant.
Q    What did you do with that once you had that, once you obtained it?
A    I brought it - basically I just left it in in my pocket.And after our weekend in Boston we drove home back to the farm, at which time I put it in the barn. I believe this was probably early June. I'm not exactly sure of the date.
Q    And between the time in early June when you purchased it and the time later on when you were to use it, did you take it out and look at it and play with it?
A    No, I didn't.
Q    Did you know in the back of the mind it was there and did you think about it?
A    I knew it was there, but I didn't give it that much thought.I think I was reluctantly admitting to myself that was really an irresponsible thing to have done, and I was basically ignoring it.

Page 174

On July 6th, 1988 his workday involves particularly strenuous work fixing an error in the structure of a greenhouse he is building. He is not eager to do it.

A    So I went back into the barn. It was at that time that I recalled the speed being hidden there, and I took it out and I said this would be perfect day to do this; basically an extension of my northern Maine vacation.
Q    Had you planned earlier that day or thought about that day about doing the drugs?
A    I'm not sure, If I did, it certainly wasn't possessed in my mind.
Q    When you went out to the barn you originally went out there to get your shovels?
A    Yes. To do a few things. Get my shovels and check things out. We have a milk goat that I like to visit often.
Q    And once you procured the drug, once you grabbed a hold of it somewhere in the barn what did you do next?
A    I just put it in my pocket. I went back into the house and I filled an empty soda bottle with tap water and I walked out to my truck.
Q    Did you have any syringes with you?
A    Yes.
Q    Where did you get them?
A    From the same place in the barn. There is a green bin the back of the barn where the animals are housed that holds all of their medications, syringes and that's where I put the speed, That's where the syringes were.

He gets in his truck, drives to a spot his wife had mentioned was a good location to view wildfowl and takes 1/3 of the drug by injection. He claims to have not felt much effect, but cannot remember clearly how he got to the second location. He does recall where he was, just not how he got there. He goes into the woods in location #2 and injects a second 1/3 of the drug and now feels what he describes as a "heightened awareness"

He gets back into his truck, and now he claims he does not know where he went or what route he took getting there. He drives aimlessly up and down roads he claims to have never driven on before, just exploring in his truck on dirt roads.
"Yes, And stopped frequently. And I don't know if you can say frequently, but I stopped a few times and walked on side roads just to see where they went."

At one of this random stops is where he claims to have lost his truck. The attorney asks him "What happened next?" His response:
"Well, I guess after doing some wondering, basically I continued the pattern until I tried to get back to my truck from one of the walks I had taken and couldn't find it."

Page 182

Q    And after you had been in the woods walking around - how long had you been walking around, do you know?
A    I guess I walked for 15, 20 minute, maybe less. And I sat down for a while. I had come to a deciduous grove of trees that were particularly nice, and sat down to rest for a few minutes. I had done a lot of walking that day.

He injects the final third of his dose of speed in this area. He throws away the syringe and other paraphernalia. It is not found. By his statement he is supposed to be completely alone and lost.

Page 183

Q    How long did you walk around for before, until you realized that you didn't know where your truck was located?
A    Well, what I did was after having sat down for quite sometime I got up and walked back to my truck. And it was at that point that I realized after walking for a short period of time that I didn't recognize anything. It didn't seem like I was going in the right direction. We were beginning to lose light at that time.
Q    So this is getting dark, towards..
A    Yes. That's one of the reasons why I started moving around because we had lost the light.

Q    Was there any period you have no memory of?
A    I can safely say there are periods of time where my memory is probably not as sharp as it could have been, but I think that's because I was doing nothing of any significance to have to cause me to have reference points,
Q    Do you have a period in that space that is just a void, that you don't have any recollection of?
A    No.

His truck is ultimately found a football's field distance from the corpse of Sarah Cherry. He
wanders until he is found 8 hours later and is immediately arrested because they were already looking for him because a notebook and a receipt from his truck were found in the driveway of the home where the victim was babysitting.

He emerges from the woods, still stoned and find a home where he explains he has lost his truck, but lies to the Buttricks saying he was fishing, being concerned, he claims, that they would detect that he was high if he just said he went for a walk. His clothing is not bloody, he has a few scratches and bruises and a hand print on his shoulder. Mr Buttrick drives him around to try and find his truck.

Page 192

A    Buttrick honked his horn, flashed his lights braked, and a police officer stopped and we backed up and met.
Q    At that time when you saw the police vehicle what was your attitude about the police vehicle?
A    I said fine. Good, They can help me find my truck.
Q    Were you scared of them?
A    Well, from the standpoint that I had been doing something illegal that day I was a little worried.
Q    Was your worry more than just a little?
A    I wouldn't say a great deal. Not at that time.

The officers put him in the back seat, ask his name, meet up with detectives, and instead of taking him to look for his truck begin to question him about the receipt and the notebook found.

Page 194- 195

A    After a short period of time Mr. Westrum exited the car and that's when Detective Reed began asking me some very pointed questions that I had a difficult time dealing with.
Q    Let's talk about that, What kind of questions was Deputy Reed asking you that you had a hard time dealing with?
A    I can't remember exactly. I can't remember if he had already shown me my notebook and the receipt.
Q    Do you remember being shown at some point the notebook and the receipt?
A    Yes,
Q    Is that the first thing that you remember in reference to Deputy Reed asking you questions of consequence?
A    I can't be certain.
Q    At some point you recall Deputy Reed asking you questions about the notebook?
A    Yes, He handed it over to me and he said: do you recognize these items?
Q    What did you say when he asked you if you recognized those items?
A    I looked at the receipt and I told him it was an autobody receipt. And I looked at the notebook and I found a Coastal Savings Bank stamp in it, and I said these are my items. Then he asked me if they would have been in my truck.
Q    What did you say to the question of whether or not they would have been in your truck?
A    I said I suspected that the receipt had been in my truck. But I was confused about why that notebook would have been in there. It was obviously a greenhouse notebook type of thing that we scratch notes in and keep by the cash register.
Q    When was the last time you saw that particular notebook?
A    I would be guessing,
Q    Was that notebook in your car on July 6th, 1988?
A    I couldn't say with any certainty.

He is interrogated aggressively in the police cruiser.

Upon being informed of the true nature of the  police inquiry, 
Dechaine blurted, “Oh my God, you think I did that?”
  (Westrum, transcript pages 354-392.)

Page 197

A    Finally he asked me a few more questions. Things had started - I really started getting scared of that man because every time I opened my mouth he twisted everything I said around and threw it back at me and in a form that I had never uttered. Finally I said what this all about? He said your notebook and paper were found in the driveway where a girl, we have a report that a girl is missing. That's what he said.
Q    What did you say when he told you that?
A    I told him that I had no idea what any of this was about , I told him I wasn't involved in this.
Q    Did there come a point when you said to him to the effect "you think I did this?"
A    I may have as a retort, yes.
Q    Was that spontaneous on your part or was it after questioning and his instructing you as to the finding of the notebook and the missing girl?
A    It would have been in response to his aggressiveness at that time.

Page 200

Q    What was your understanding as to why you were being questioned at that point?
A    Well, definitely in connection with the missing girl. One more thing did happen that I recall while we were, while I was being interviewed by Officer Reed, When he asked me where my truck was I responded I didn't know. He asked me if I had left the keys in it. I told him, yes,I had.
Q    Why did you tell him that?
A    Because I believed that I had left the keys in the truck

Page 201

Q    Excuse me. Later on you realized that was not the case?
A    That's correct.
Q    What did you try to do with the keys?
A    At that time I believe that was before they came in with the Miranda rights form.
Q    Prior to the form we just talked about?
A    Yes.
Q    What happened then?
A    I panicked.
Q    Why did you panic?
A    I did not want to have another go around with Officer Reed.
Q    So what did you do?
A    I took the keys out of my pocket and threw them under the front seat.
Q    What were you thinking at that time?
A    Just that I did not want to have to deal with Officer Reed again,
Q    Did you think that hiding your keys would make him go away?
A    I thought that hiding my keys would avoid another confrontation.

Page 210

Q    Did you tell him about your drug use at that time?
A    No. Well, I wasn't - I did not want to tell the police officer that I had been involved in illegal drug use.
Q    Did he ask you about the bruise on your arm?
A    Yes.
Q    What did you tell him that was?
A    I told him that was a pinch I received while doing some work in the barn or something of that sort.
Q    What happened next?
A    The conversation continued, I guess.
Q    This was where?
A    We are still in the vehicle.
Q    Go ahead.
A    He asked me about my activities that day. I responded basically the same way I had to Deputy Reed; that I had been wondering the back roads. I told him I had been looking for fishing holes.That was the excuse I had given them, that I had been fishing,And I basically told them I lost my truck when I became disoriented in the woods and had been picked up by the Buttricks and so forth.
Q    What was your concern in not letting him know about your drug use at that time?
A    I didn't want him to know. That's the extent of it.

Page 211-212

Q    At some point did you say to Detective Hendsbee that somebody was trying to set you up?
A    Yes. I believe I did. He asked me how - that maybe was with Officer Reed. I did tell somebody that night. He said if somebody set you up and I didn't have anything to do with the abduction of this girl how did the notebook and the receipt get in her driveway? I had no response to that except somebody placed them there.

Page 213

Q    At any point did you mention to you anything beyond abduction?
A    No.
Q    Did you have any inclination beyond abduction at that point?
A    At that point I told Detective H she was probably with somebody, Just gone somewhere, boyfriend or what have you, I wasn't as concerned as they were.

Page 214-215

Q    Turning your attention to State's Exhibit Number 21. What are those scratches?
A    Except for the small mark which would be my lower right-hand side, I honestly don't believe that there are any scratches on my back. These don't look like scratches to me,and I don't recall having been scratched. Its possible that I might have rubbed across a tree and received light marks. But they certainly aren't scratches.
Q    Did anybody on July 6th scratch you on your back with their hands?
A    No, sir.

Direct testimony begins again in this document:

Page 11

A    I had been hoping all along that Sarah Cherry would be found or she would return home by herself and that everything would be basically taken care of. And when I found out that she had been found in the woods that was very upsetting to me.
Q    What was your understanding of what was going to happen to you as a result of that news?
A    I had been told I was the suspect in the case. I had not been told that there were any others, so I expected that the police would be coming to the farm

Page 15

Q    Was there a knife in the truck that you can recall?
A    I don't recall a knife being in the truck.
Q    Would it have been unusual for one to have been found in the truck?
A    No. Especially if it was some -- I don't know where it would have been, but it's possible.

Dechaine stated to officers on Friday, 7/8/88, after the  body was found, 
“I can't believe I could do such a thing . . . it
must have been somebody else inside of me . . . I can't believe
I could do that.” 
(Hendsbee, transcript pages 793-826)
In an extremely emotional scene, Dechaine allegedly made the following statements to Detective Westrum:

“Oh my God, it should never have happened . . . Why did I do this? . . . 
I went home and told my wife that I did something bad and she just 
laughed at me . . . I told  her I wouldn't kill myself; besides,
that's the easy way out . . . [P]lease believe me, something inside 
must have  made me do that . . . Why would I do this? . . . I didn't 
think it actually happened until I saw her face on the news; then 
it all came back to me. I remembered it . . .  Why did I kill her? . . . 
What punishment could they ever give me that would equal what I've
done? . . . I feel so bad for her. My God, how must her mother and 
father feel? It was something inside that must have made me do that . . . 
How can I live with myself again? . . . I wish I had never gone on 
that road that day. Why couldn't my  truck have broken down instead? . . . 
I don't think my  wife believes me. . . Why did I let this happen?
  (Westrum transcript pages 826-842)

Page 26-27

Q    During the period when you were having the conversation with Detective Westrum, what else did you talk about?
A    just I couldn't believe this was happening. I told him I was shocked and horrified by the whole thing. That a mistake had been made.
Q    Did you ever say I don't know whatever made me do that?
A    I told him that I don't know why this was happening.
Q    Did you ever say I don't know whatever made me do that?
A    No, I did not,
Q    Did you say I can't believe it happened?
A    I may have said that in reference to my arrest.
Q    Did you say: Oh my God, why did I do this?
A    No, I don't recall saying that.
Q    What were you saying at the time, do you recall?
A    Yes. I was telling him that I couldn't believe that this was happening to me. I told him I was really worried about my family. Basically I was just very upset and worried.
Q    Did you ever say to Detective Westrum that you went home and told your wife that you had done something bad and.. she laughed at you?
A    Of course not.
Q    Did you say that I told my wife I wouldn't kill myself because that's the easy way out?
A    No.
Q    Did you smoke cigarettes in there?
A    He offered me some, yes.
Q    Did you smoke?
A    Yes.
Q    Did you say to the officer: Mark, please believe; something inside must have made me do that?
A    No, I never said that.
Q    Did you say: Why would I do this.
A    I may have said, you know, I may have asked him why he believed that I would have done something like this.
Q    What was was your level of anxiety and worry about concerned during this period of discussion?
A    Probably as high as it had ever been in my life.
Q    Did you say to the detective: I didn't think that it actually happened until I saw her face in the news; then it all came back. I remember it.
A    No. On the contrary.
Q    What happened when you saw the picture?
A    When I saw her on the news. I told my wife that I had never before seen that child.

Page 28

Q    Other than those impressions from photographs that you have seen, do you have any impression in your mind as to her?
A    Absolutely none.
Q    Is that because you can't remember?
A    No. Because I had never seen her.
Q    Did you further say to Detective Westrum: I can't believe I did it?
A    I don't think I would have said that, no.
Q    During the period of time that you were being questioned did you believe that you did do it?
A    No.

This following statement refers to the testimony of several prison guards who claim he said the following:

Dechaine stated to jail guards, “You people need to know that I'm 
the one who murdered that girl, and may want to put me in isolation.” 
( Maxcy, transcript pages 850-868;
  Dermody, transcript pages 869-873.)

Page 32

A    I told them that I'm the an accused of the murder or Sarah Cherry.
Q    Did you tell them anything else?
A    That's about it.
Q    Did you ask to be put in isolation?
A    I asked to be placed accordingly. I may have said isolation.
Q    Did you know the term isolation at the time?
A    I don't believe I would have,
Q    Did you say to them you people need to know that I'm the one who murdered that girl and you may want to put me in isolation?
A    I really don't believe I could have said that, If I did it was certainly a regrettable error of semantics. To the best of my recollection I certainly thought nothing of it. I told them I was the one accused of murdering Sarah Cherry. They told me you don't have to worry; we'll be putting you in the holding cell.

Page 37

Q    When you were questioned by the police on the night of July 6th you had the keys in your position, did you not?
A    Yes.
Q    These keys?
A    Yes.
Q    Is that unusual to have your keys?
A    Well, not unusual but it was unlikely I would have had them with me. I don't know why I took them out of the ignition. Probably because I was in a remote area and I was afraid it would be an easy thing to steal.


  1. For evidence from official documents regarding police allegations that Dechaine made incriminating statements, one should consult:

  2. You say, "The uncontested aspects of the circumstantial case are so strong."

    That's true. But in view of the scientific evidence rendering Dechaine's guilt highly unlikely if not impossible, the inferences you and many others draw from that circumstantial evidence are no more likely than the inference which is supported by All the evidence, i.e. that the killer staged the scene to divert suspicion onto the owner of the unoccupied truck parked in the woods who turned out to be Dechaine.