MacDonald fights for freedom, maintains innocence
Posted January 26
Richmond, Va. — Jeffrey MacDonald, a former Green Beret surgeon whose murder conviction has been the subject of books and movies, is now waiting on three federal judges to write the last chapter of his legal battle for freedom.
Attorneys for MacDonald, who was convicted of killing his pregnant wife and two daughters at their Fort Bragg home in 1970, say through new DNA testing they have confirmed there were hairs and fibers at the scene that belong to someone other than their client.
Attorneys for MacDonald also claim this evidence was withheld in the original trial.
For nearly 47 years, MacDonald, who is remarried and still in prison, has said that he didn't kill his 26-year-old 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 as they were being attacked by four hippies – three men and a woman, who was wearing a blond wig and floppy hat as she chanted "acid is groovy, kill the pigs."
Since their marriage in 2001, his second wife, Kathryn has dedicated her life to earning Jeffrey MacDonald his freedom.
"I couldn't sleep at night knowing that he's in there and that he's innocent," she said Thursday as MacDonald’s latest appeal was heard.
She, who she married behind bars in 2002.
"I was 36 and he was 54. Now, I'm 55 and he's 73," Kathryn MacDonald said. "Jeff's story has never wavered. Since 1970, he has said the same thing over and over."
Jeffrey MacDonald's attorneys said a hair found in nail scrapings from his daughter Kimberley supports their client's claims.
"That's evidence of actual innocence. It was evidence of an intruder and her fight with that intruder," said Hart Miles, one of MacDonald's defense attorneys.
Attorneys also argue that they have 12 witnesses who say a drug addict named Helena Stoeckley admitted she participated in the murder. Attorneys say she did not reveal this at trial because she was intimated by prosecutors. Stockley died in 1983.
"She was protecting herself," Miles said. "She was afraid that she was going to be prosecuted."
"And now we know how much evidence the government lost, hid, lied about," Kathryn MacDonald said.
Despite the defense’s revelations, the U.S. Attorney stands by the conviction, saying the hair could have come from anyone who handled the evidence, and that Stoeckley was not credible.
"To me failure is not an option," MacDonald said.
The three-judge panel took the case under advisement and will rule at a later date. At least two of the three judges must agree.
If the judges agree there is evidence showing MacDonald is innocent, the case will most likely go back to district court for a trial that could take a year.
He is currently serving three consecutive life terms at a federal prison in Cumberland, Maryland.