Local News

Judge rejects bid for new trial in 'Fatal Vision' case

Posted July 24, 2014

— A federal judge on Thursday denied a motion for a new trial for Jeffrey MacDonald, the Army surgeon who was convicted of killing his pregnant wife and two daughters at their Fort Bragg home in 1970.

MacDonald, 70, has always maintained his innocence in the case, which spawned a book and television miniseries titled “Fatal Vision," and sought a new trial based on what defense attorneys said was new DNA evidence and witness testimony.

"The court finds that MacDonald has failed to establish, by clear and convincing evidence, that no reasonable factfinder would have found him guilty of the murder of his wife and two daughters. Alternatively, the court finds that MacDonald has failed to adequately establish the merits of any of his claims,"  Senior U.S. District Judge James Fox wrote in his ruling.

MacDonald has repeatedly claimed that his family was attacked during a home invasion by four hippies seeking drugs.

The defense said during a September 2012 court hearing that unidentified hairs found under the fingernail of MacDonald's 2-year-old daughter, Kristen, on her bedspread and under the body of MacDonald's 26-year-old wife, Colette, didn't match the DNA of anyone in his family, supporting MacDonald's claim that someone else was in his house.

The defense also focused on affidavits from people connected to Helena Stoeckley, a known drug addict who claimed off and on that she was in the MacDonald home the night of the murders. The testimony alleged that Stoeckley was threatened with prosecution if she testified during MacDonald's 1979 trial that she participated in the killings.

Fox noted in his ruling that specialized DNA testing showed the hairs could have come from members of the MacDonald family, making the three hairs no different from other evidence MacDonald has presented through the years to bolster his claim of a home invasion.

"It is true that the presence of naturally shed, non-bloody unsourced hairs could be evidence of intruders; it also could be like other random household debris,
and not indicative of intruders," the judge wrote.

Fox also said the testimony was unreliable because the passage of time made people's recollections suspect.

"Helena Stoeckley herself was not credible or reliable," he wrote. "The court cannot find, based on this hearsay statement from the unreliable Stoeckley, that she was in fact threatened by (the prosecutor) and therefore induced to testify falsely."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • 678devilish Jul 25, 2014

    The man is guilty and this is certainly not funny. What if had been you?

    Sorry. Correction. I believe MacDonald is Innocent and always has been.

  • 678devilish Jul 25, 2014


    I am just curious in how the Lord will be judging you come judgement day. The man is guilty and this is certainly not funny. What if had been you?

  • 678devilish Jul 25, 2014

    MacDonal just know when judgement day comes, God/Jesus will be the final judges. No one else. I have always believe the man was INNOCENT. I will remember the woman in the floppy hat who was there at the murders and was never charged. She died a few years later.

  • ziva Jul 25, 2014

    Give it up Jeff. The floppy hat lady is long gone as you should be.

  • Jim Pomeranz Jul 25, 2014

    Interesting that this is referred to as the Fatal Vision case. Actually, it stupid that it's referred to as the Fatal Vision case. Mentioning 'Fatal Vision" in the story is one thing, but the headline should have been: "Judge rejects Jeffery MacDonald a new trial." Obviously, the headline writer thinks the murders were the result of the book and not the other way around.

  • Nan Toppin Jul 25, 2014
    user avatar

    he was guilty then and he's guilty now...

  • Forthe Newssite Jul 25, 2014
    user avatar

    GOOD! He should have received the DP when he killed his family. Thankfully the judge has good sense.

    I remember this case very clearly....I thought he did it then and I still think so. He tried, unsuccessfully, to take a page from Manson's book

  • mbsheisey Jul 25, 2014

    I wish he would go away too but he won't because he is a typical narcissist. It is just really hard to believe that every one else in the house sustained mortal injuries and he gets away with 2 or 3 little scratches. I certainly hope he doesn't convince The Innocence Project to take his case.

  • tierneemalinadeveaux Jul 25, 2014

    Why does't this guy just go away? He is as guilty as the day is long. I hope he never gets a new trial, and I hope he is not allowed to waste any more taxpayer dollars telling his lies.

  • Bob Leah Jul 24, 2014
    user avatar

    Good article on MacDonald about the original trial and case: http://www.candidslice.com/the-two-faces-of-jeffrey-macdonald-raleighs-national-murder-case/