CUMBERLAND, Md. — A former Green Beret doctor who made national news probably will not be getting out of prison anytime soon.
Parole examiners recommended no parole for
with reconsideration in 15 years. MacDonald still maintains his innocence for the 1970 slayings, at Fort Bragg, of his pregnant wife and two young daughters.
The proceeding was held Tuesday at a prison in Cumberland, Md., before two hearing examiners. The recommendation must be voted on by all five parole commissioners.
MacDonald, 61, whose case has been the subject of several books and a television miniseries, has been eligible to apply for parole since 1991 but had refused, contending it would involve a tacit admission of guilt. This year, he changed his mind, urged by his revamped legal team to explore all options for release.
His marriage to Kathryn MacDonald, which led to his transfer from a California prison to the western Maryland facility, also influenced the decision.
MacDonald's stance is unusual. The majority of prisoners coming before the U.S. Parole Commission asking for release say they are sorry for the crimes they were convicted of, commission spokesman Tom Hutchinson said. But nothing in the commission rules says an expression of remorse is required for parole, he said.
"It gets dicey when a person expresses innocence -- you can't accept responsibility for it when it's something you say you never did," Hutchinson said.
Kathryn MacDonald, 44, who owns a West Laurel children's drama school, said that "even given the frustrations of being wrongly convicted, he (Jeffrey MacDonald) has done everything expected of him, and more. He is an ideal candidate for parole."
But some are determined, even from beyond the grave, to see that MacDonald is not released. His former in-laws felt so strongly about his guilt that when they died in 1994, they left behind a letter and a videotape to be presented to the parole commission for review.
Bob Stevenson, 65, the only sibling of MacDonald's slain wife, Colette, said he promised their stepfather, Alfred Kassab, on his deathbed to fight MacDonald's parole efforts.
"The fact is, this is a sociopath, and in one moment, he destroyed his family and mine," said Stevenson, of Huntington, N.Y., who spoke at the hearing. "This is a stupid game, a stupid exercise, a waste of his time. Of course, he won't get out."
MacDonald's parole hearing falls on what would have been the 61st birthday of Colette MacDonald, who was 26 when she died on Feb. 17, 1970, along with daughters Kimberley, 5, and Kristen, 2.
MacDonald has always said that a group of intruders entered their apartment at Fort Bragg, stabbed and bludgeoned his family to death and left him seriously injured. An Army hearing cleared him, but a federal jury rejected his account, and he received three consecutive life sentences in 1979.
An appeal gained MacDonald his freedom, but the appeals court ruling was overturned in 1982, and he has been in prison ever since.