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Hearing to request new trial for Jeffrey McDonald postponed
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Thread: Hearing to request new trial for Jeffrey McDonald postponed

  1. #1
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010

    Hearing to request new trial for Jeffrey McDonald postponed

    The latest attempt by former Fort Bragg doctor Jeffrey MacDonald to get a new trial for the murders of his wife and children has been postponed a month by revisions to North Carolina's Racial Justice Act.

    MacDonald's case had been scheduled for a hearing on Aug. 20 to review new evidence at the federal courthouse in Wilmington. At the request of MacDonald lawyer Gordon Widenhouse, U.S. District Judge James C. Fox on Monday moved the hearing to Sept. 17.

    In court papers requesting the delay, Widenhouse said he needs to spend July and August assisting 11 death row clients who have claims pending under the Racial Justice Act. This is a state law that that allows defendants on North Carolina's death row to try to prove that racism in the court system unjustly and illegally led to their death sentences.

    On July 2, the state legislature made significant changes to the Racial Justice Act and set an Aug. 31 deadline for defendants to update their Racial Justice Act claims in light of the revisions.

    Widenhouse said he must visit death row at a Raleigh prison numerous times to see his 11 clients before the deadline and wouldn't have time to work for both them and MacDonald if MacDonald's case were to keep its August schedule.

    Prosecutors opposed the delay, saying they are prepared to go forward with the case in August.

    MacDonald, 68, is serving life in federal prison for the stabbing deaths of his pregnant wife and two daughters in their home at Fort Bragg in 1970. At the time he was a doctor serving in the Army.

    The September hearing is to consider DNA evidence from the crime scene plus claims that a federal prosecutor pressured a witness to lie at MacDonald's trial in 1979.

    The technology to test DNA evidence from crime scenes was developed about 10 years after MacDonald was convicted.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  2. #2
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    There is nothing anyone can say to convince me Jeffrey McDonald DID NOT murder his wife and children!
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  3. #3
    Senior Member Frequent Poster PATRICK5's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    Army doctor gets another chance to clear his name

    Associated Press

    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A former Green Beret convicted of killing his pregnant wife and their two daughters is getting another chance at trying to prove his innocence.

    Decades after Jeffrey MacDonald was convicted in the 1970 slayings, he will ask a judge to consider new DNA evidence and witness testimony that supporters say will clear him of the crime.

    The slayings terrified a nation gripped by MacDonald's account of what happened: He told investigators that Charles Manson-like hippies high on acid killed his family.

    MacDonald, now 68 and not eligible for parole until 2020, has never wavered from his claim that he didn't kill his pregnant wife, Colette, and their two daughters, 5-year-old Kimberley and 2-year-old Kristen.

    MacDonald will leave prison in Cumberland, Md., to attend Monday's hearing in North Carolina.


    [Rather misleading lead. DNA testing shows MacDonald's hair was found in Colette's hand. Also, hair from unidentified person is found under fingernail of a daughter. But, he gets his ugly mug in the news and dopes send him money. ]
    Obama ate my dad

  4. #4
    Senior Member Member Jeffects's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    Southern California
    A bizarre coincidence. I happened to be at Fort Bragg when he went on trial. (The house he had lived in was still taped off) The only ones talking to the local press was he and his attorneys. With their biased slant, I actually thought he was innocent. A few years later, I was working as a sound editor, Lo and behold, I found out I was going to be working on the film "Fatal Vision". I told my friend, who was supervising the show, that I thought he was innocent. He said "read the book".

    I hadn't seen the film yet, so I read the book. I wasn't very far into it when I could see this guy was "slam dunk" guilty. His big mouth got him into prison. His apperance on Dick Cavett is disgusting. Freddy Kassab, a staunch supporter early on, was obsessed with getting him into prison, and thank God he succeded. I actually met Freddy at the cast and crew.

    Guilty, and considering the crimes, have fun in Hell Doc!

    This is actually worth watching, If you're interested. It's a bit dated, and Mcginnis has proven himself to be a nut-case, but he's good in this. I think he got the story dead on.


  5. #5
    Senior Member Member Jeffects's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    Southern California
    Man convicted in Fatal Vison case to get chance at new trial

    WILMINGTON, N.C. – Jeffrey MacDonald, a clean-cut Green Beret and doctor convicted of killing of his pregnant wife and their two daughters, is getting another chance to try proving his innocence -- more than four decades after the nation was gripped by his tales of Charles Manson-like hippies doped up on acid slaughtering his family.

    The case now hinges on something that wasn't available when he was first put on trial: DNA evidence. A federal judge planned to hold a hearing Monday to consider new DNA evidence and witness testimony that MacDonald and his supporters say will finally clear him of a crime that became the basis of Joe McGinniss' best-selling book "Fatal Vision" and a made-for-TV drama.

    It's the latest twist in a case that has been the subject of military and civilian courts, intense legal wrangling and shifting alliances.

    "This is Jeff's opportunity to be back in court almost 33 years to the day of his conviction," said Kathryn MacDonald, who married him a decade ago while he has been in prison.

    MacDonald, now 68 and not eligible for parole until 2020, has never wavered from his claim that he didn't kill his pregnant wife, Colette, and their two daughters, 5-year-old Kimberley and 2-year-old Kristen. He has maintained that he awoke on their sofa in their home at Fort Bragg in the early morning hours of Feb. 17, 1970, as they were being attacked by three men and a woman.

    In an October 2000 letter MacDonald wrote to Kathryn MacDonald, provided by her to The Associated Press, he wrote: "It would be a dishonor to their memory to compromise the truth and `admit' to something I didn't do -- no matter how long it takes."

    The gruesome stabbing and beating deaths came just three months after the Manson Family slayings in California were revealed. The pregnant wife and MacDonald's description of the woman attacker chanting "acid is groovy, kill the pigs" all fed into fears that Manson-type killers were on the loose in North Carolina. The word "pig" was written in blood on a headboard -- the same word that was written on the door of pregnant Manson victim Sharon Tate's house in Los Angeles.

    The Army charged the Ivy League-educated MacDonald with murder, then dropped the charges months later after an Article 32 hearing. By December 1970, MacDonald was not just a free man but also had received an honorable discharge.

    But his father-in-law, Alfred Kassab, who initially believed in his innocence, changed his mind and eventually persuaded prosecutors to pursue the case in civilian court. In 1979, MacDonald was charged, convicted and sentenced to life in prison, a sentence he now serves at the federal prison in Cumberland, Md.

    MacDonald has stood by his innocence claim so strongly that he refused to apply for parole for years, and when he did, he refused to acknowledge any guilt and was rejected. MacDonald and his supporters have continued to pursue legal avenues over the years to try to clear his name.

    U.S. District Court Judge James Fox will consider two types of evidence: three hairs that don't match the family's DNA and a statement from Jimmy Britt, a deputy U.S. marshal when the case was tried. Britt, who has since died, gave a statement to defense attorneys in 2005 that he heard prosecutor Jim Blackburn threaten Helena Stoeckley, a troubled local woman whom MacDonald had identified as one of the attackers.

    A previous MacDonald attorney has said Stoeckley was prepared to testify she was in the MacDonald home the night of the murders until Blackburn threatened to charge her with the slayings. She later testified she couldn't remember where she was that night.

    The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted MacDonald's request for the hearing. It's expected to last up to two weeks, and Fox will determine whether to order a new trial.

    "This is the first time the judge is having to consider all the evidence in the case as a whole," said Chris Mumma, head of the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence, which has a pending request for DNA testing on other items found in the home. "Pieces of evidence were considered in the past. Now the 4th Circuit has told the judge to consider the evidence as a whole, whether admitted at trial or not."

    A lab was able to get DNA testing from the roots of hair, so Mumma is optimistic that other evidence can be tested if the judge agreed. The center has asked that 40 items be tested. Hundreds of bloodstains were collected, along with the weapons, the eyeglasses the children wore and pieces of the gloves used to write the word "pig."

    In 1979, only blood typing existed, not DNA testing. Jeffrey, Colette and their daughters all had different blood types, so prosecutors could recreate which people were in which rooms together.

    But, Mumma asks, what if the blood types belonged to people outside the MacDonald home?

    "There's evidence that I think would be worth testing to determine if there's DNA evidence not tied to family members -- or that does," she said. "The DNA testing may completely confirm the government's theory."

    Fox will consider the statement of Britt, who accused former prosecutor Jim Blackburn of threatening Stoeckley. Blackburn later went into private practice and was found guilty of several ethical violations. He was disbarred and served a prison sentence. Because he's a likely witness, Blackburn can't talk about the case. He does, however, support the trial verdict. "We prosecuted the case to the best of our ability," he said. "We still believe the verdict was correct."

    Like the Manson murders, the MacDonald killings led to books, most famously "Fatal Vision," which also was the basis of a television miniseries that concluded MacDonald was guilty. Earlier this month, documentary filmmaker Errol Morris' book, "A Wilderness of Error," was published. Morris concluded that MacDonald did not get a fair trial and might not be guilty.

    There will be some familiar faces at the proceedings. But others who have played central roles in the case will be missing: Stoeckley died in 1983 at age 32 of pneumonia and cirrhosis of the liver; Britt, the U.S. deputy marshal who said the prosecutor threatened Stoeckley, also has since died. Jeffrey MacDonald's father-in-law, Kassab, also has died.

    Now Colette MacDonald's brother, Bob Stevenson, will be there to fill his role

    "The truth is, there is nothing new out there," said Stevenson, 73, who declined to say where he lives, saying he receives death threats. "There is nothing. Do you know how much DNA is in my home and your home? The mere discovery of DNA has nothing to do with a man's guilt."

    Stevenson said he promised Kassab before he died in 1994 that he would continue to pursue MacDonald.

    "Until he is dead or I am dead, we will be battling as adversaries," he said, adding later: "I will never lose interest. I will never lose zeal. I will never lose faith."


  6. #6
    Senior Member Member Jeffects's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    Southern California
    I don't want to bore you all with this long article, so. I'll just post the link. It's a somewhat "Macdonald is innocent" batch of nonsense, but somewhat insightful. The good part is in some of the angry comments posted as to Macdonald being guilty.


    I was looking around the web for info on Macdonald, and ran across this site. It's pretty amazing. Colette's brother contributes and answers questions. There are brutal autopsy photo's of Collette and the girls. Brutal, multiple stabbings, as opposed to nicks and scratches to Macdonald. The photo's of the crime scene are particularly damning. After the drug crazed cultists stab the girls umpteen times, they were considerate enough to tuck them back into bed. Tons of interesting stuff here, all of which points to his guilt.


  7. #7
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Here's an excellent, recent five-page article on the case from the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifest...02a_story.html

  8. #8
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Federal judge upholds Jeffrey MacDonald murder conviction; his attorney talks about appeal


    RALEIGH Jeffrey MacDonald was disappointed, but not surprised, by a federal judges ruling that upholds the murder conviction that has imprisoned the former Army doctor for three decades.

    Gordon Widenhouse, the Chapel Hill attorney representing MacDonald in his latest quest for freedom, on Friday recounted the phone call he had with his client after Judge James C. Foxs ruling late Thursday.

    Dr. MacDonald has not seen the order yet, Widenhouse said. I will mail it to him. He knows what it says. My gut reaction is well appeal.

    MacDonald, 70 now and housed in a medium-security federal prison in Cumberland, Md., has maintained since 1970 that he did not kill his pregnant wife, Colette, and two daughters Kimberly, age 4, and Kristen, age 2 in the Fort Bragg apartment where they lived.

    Almost 23 months after a 2012 hearing in Wilmington in which DNA evidence and statements about key witnesses were presented to him, Fox said Thursday that he had not been persuaded to overturn the verdict.

    The case which has inspired several best-selling books, countless articles and the hit Fatal Vision TV miniseries has outlasted many of the key witnesses and seen the graying of others.

    It has sparked strong camps of opinion.

    Some contend that the Princeton-educated MacDonald is an exploitative psychopath who deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison, as the sentence handed to him specifies.

    Others argue just as vehemently that MacDonald is a victim of a gross miscarriage of justice who would have abandoned his quest for freedom long ago if there was not something to his claims of innocence.

    The 2012 hearing in front of Fox was to consider what the defense contended were new claims about DNA evidence. They also presented statements made by a former marshal and by family members of a drug-addled woman spotted by law enforcement officers near the murder scene.

    The late Franklin Dupree was the judge during the 1979 trial and for many of MacDonalds post-trial proceedings. But Dupree died in 1995, and Fox, an octogenarian who assumed semi-retirement status in 2001, found himself in an unusual position when the

    4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the MacDonald case back to his courtroom.

    In 2011, the federal appeals court reversed a Fox ruling in the MacDonald case, telling the judge he needed to consider claims about new DNA evidence in the context of all the evidence. The appeals court did not elaborate on the meaning of all the evidence.

    Fox told MacDonald and the attorneys at the start of the 2012 hearing that he was going to allow great leeway on what evidence could be presented.

    In a 169-page order that recaps the case and highlights chapters of its tortuous legal journey, Fox said MacDonalds attorneys failed to establish that a reasonable juror would not have found the Army captain guilty had they heard the new evidence.

    Failed to establish

    After conducting an evidentiary hearing, receiving voluminous supplementary briefing and examining the evidence as a whole, the court finds that MacDonald has failed to establish, by clear and convincing evidence that a reasonable juror wouldnt come to the same verdict, Foxs order states.

    Alternatively, the court finds that MacDonald has failed to adequately establish the merits of any of his claims, the order says.

    Colette MacDonald had 37 stab wounds some from an ice pick, some from a knife and was beaten. She had two broken arms and a fractured skull.

    The older daughter had a fractured skull and eight to 10 stab wounds. The younger daughter had 27 stab wounds.

    Thomas Walker, the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of North Carolina where the case has been tried and heard over the years, was only 5 when MacDonalds family was murdered on the Army base in Cumberland County.

    Today our thoughts turn toward Colette, Kimberly and Kristen MacDonald whose lives were taken tragically by the defendant in this case, Walker said in a statement released Friday. We have and will continue to seek justice on their behalf.

    If MacDonald decides to appeal Foxs ruling, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals must agree to hear the challenge.


    Widenhouse, who represented MacDonald in Wilmington in 2012, said he thought after his initial read of Foxs order that there were issues to appeal.

    Obviously, Im disappointed by the result, Widenhouse said.

    In 2012, MacDonalds defense team submitted statements made by a retired U.S. marshal that a prosecutor pressured a witness to lie on the stand. The retired marshal is dead, as is the witness.

    That witness, the woman spotted by law enforcement officers near the scene, gave many different accounts during her troubled life about the MacDonald case. Widenhouse said he thought if a jury had heard that she planned to testify that she was at the scene, they might have come to a different verdict.

    To me, that completely changes the trial, Widenhouse said.

    Fox, though, ruled otherwise, bringing another chapter in MacDonalds protracted legal case to a close.


    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  9. #9
    Senior Member Frequent Poster elsie's Avatar
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    Oct 2012
    North Carolina
    I so remember this case even as young as I was. I read the full trial transcripts and read as much as I could about it. He is guilty and needs to stay where he is.
    Proverbs 21:15 "When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evil doers."

  10. #10
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    A Wilderness of Error (TV series)

    A Wilderness of Error is an FX documentary true crime five-part series, directed by Academy Award-nominated film producer Marc Smerling. It is based on the book A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald by Errol Morris.

    The series examines the case of
    Jeffrey MacDonald, an Army surgeon who was accused of murdering his wife and two daughters on February 17, 1970. He was convicted of the crime on August 29, 1979, and has been in prison since 1982. However, MacDonald may be innocent.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

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