This documentary investigates the kidnapping, sexual assault, and murder of a 12-year-old girl named Sarah Cherry 19 years ago in the rural community of Bowdoin, Maine.
On July 6, 1988 Sarah, a responsible and straight-A student, took on her first babysitting job. Unfortunately, she was kidnapped, and two days later her body was found nearby in a secluded wooded area. She had been murdered and evidence showed that she was sexually assaulted.
The suspect in this hideous crime was a 31-year-old farmer named Dennis Dechaine. He was linked to this crime because his personal papers were found in the driveway of the home at which Sarah was babysitting, and when questioned by police officers, he gave statements admitting that he committed the crime. The investigation found rope in his truck that was used to tie up Sarah. There were bruises he could not explain and his alibi did not add up. He was taken into custody, charged, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
The controversy in this film stems from the efforts of Dennis Dechaine's friends, who formed an organization to clear him called Trial and Error. The group speculated that there was prosecutorial misconduct because there were many holes in the evidence gathered by the police. Also, the defense had requested DNA testing and it was denied by the court. Possibly, the denial of the DNA test was because it was a new procedure in the state of Maine. Trial and Error suggest that the police department manipulated the evidence against Dechaine and launched a conspiracy.
What makes this film so different from most investigative documentaries is that the filmmaker Dora Militaru uses the actual people from both sides involved in the events to give their own opinions, evidence, and statements. This gives the audience a feel of being involved and rendering their own decision on whether Dennis Dechaine is deserving of a new trial. What's disturbing is that the victims' family can't bring closure to this horrific tragedy. This film gives a gutsy look at the real "law and order".
Director: Dora Militaru
Run time: 43 mins
Studio: Moon Lake Films