MacDonald defense memo outlines witness statements, DNA evidence
Posted April 1, 2013
Updated January 25
WILMINGTON, N.C. — Attorneys for a former Fort Bragg doctor who was convicted of killing his pregnant wife and two daughters more than 30 years ago outlined the 22 witness statements and DNA evidence they say prove his innocence in a memorandum filed Monday in U.S. District Court.
Judge James Fox is expected to decide in coming months whether Jeffrey MacDonald will be granted a new trial in the slayings.
In September, MacDonald's attorneys squared off with prosecutors in a hearing to prove their client deserves a new trial. They argue that the jury that convicted their client in 1979 would have found him not guilty if they had heard two things – DNA evidence that wasn't available during the trial and witness testimony that MacDonald says proves his innocence.
Monday's filing provides an outline of 22 witness statements MacDonald says support his version of what happened: that he awoke on the sofa in his home as his family was attacked by four hippies – three men and a woman, who was wearing a blond wig and floppy hat, chanting "acid is groovy, kill the pigs."
They include a confession written in blood from a man named Greg Mitchell, a witness statement saying a man was seen threatening Colette MacDonald hours before the murders, multiple accounts of witnesses seeing a group of people matching the description of the suspects on the night of the murders and a statement from a person who accidentally called the MacDonald house that night.
That witness says a hysterical woman answered, and a voice in the background said, "Hang up the phone."
MacDonald's attorneys also point to testimony from a friend of Helena Stoeckley, a known drug addict who has claimed off and on that she was in the MacDonald home the night of the murders, who says Stoeckley left a bag containing bloody clothes and boots in her care shortly after the murders.
Three unknown hairs are also at the heart of the DNA evidence the defense wants considered. One hair was found underneath the fingernail of MacDonald's 2-year-old daughter, Kristen, and the second was found on her bedspread. The third hair, a pubic hair, was found under the body of Colette MacDonald.
The defense argues that Kristen MacDonald's hand wounds showed she tried to defend herself and that the hair under her fingernail must have come from her attacker. The hair on her bed and the hair found under her mother also could have been shed by the attackers, according to the defense.
Federal prosecutors say MacDonald brutally stabbed his family to death with two paring knives and an icepick and beat them with a piece of wood in their apartment at 544 Castle Drive on Feb. 17, 1970.
They have 60 days to file a response to the defense memorandum.