LISBON (AP) – A Lisbon woman who’s convinced that Dennis Dechaine is innocent of the murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry is backing up her belief with cash.

In the past few weeks, Peggy Blanchard has spent $30,000 on Dechaine, who is serving a life sentence at Maine State Prison for the 1988 stabbing and strangulation of the Bowdoin girl.

Blanchard, a 50-year-old retired nursing assistant whose husband died three years ago, is donating money from the sale of her Freeport home. She said no price is too high for the freedom of someone she believes is innocent.

A month ago, after making initial contact by telephone, Blanchard presented a $10,000 check to Trial & Error, the group working to force a new trial for Dechaine.

Blanchard also spent $20,000 on a 2000 GMC pickup truck, which she plans to give to Dechaine when he is released.

And she said she will donate another $10,000 without hesitation, and more, if need be.

The judge, prosecutors and investigators involved say the evidence points only to Dechaine.

Her husband’s death of a heart attack plunged Blanchard into a years-long depression, and she sold their home, gave up her job and moved to Lisbon.

Then she read “Human Sacrifice,” a book by James Moore, which concludes that Dechaine could not have been Sarah Cherry’s killer.

Blanchard said having something new to focus on was what pulled her out of depression. “I’m back, and I won’t stop until Dennis gets a new trial,” Blanchard said.

AP-ES-08-26-04 1433EDT

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