Local News

Judge denies appeal in 'Fatal Vision' murder case

Posted November 6, 2008

— A federal judge has denied a motion seeking a new trial for an Army doctor convicted almost 30 years ago in the slayings of his wife and two daughters at Fort Bragg.

Senior U.S. District Judge James C. Fox issued his 47-page ruling Tuesday, saying Jeffrey MacDonald had failed to prove that new evidence he purported to have in the case would have convinced jurors to acquit him.

MacDonald was convicted in 1979 of the Feb. 17, 1970, murders of his pregnant wife, Collette, and their two daughters, Kimberly and Kristin. He has maintained his innocence, claiming a group of drug-crazed hippies broke into his home and attacked his family.

The case inspired two books, "Fatal Vision" and "Fatal Justice," and a television miniseries that carried the name of the first book.

Since his conviction, MacDonald has filed numerous appeals, arguing new evidence and prosecutorial misconduct should allow him to have a new trial.

In 2006, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to give the case another look after a retired U.S. marshal swore in an affidavit that  woman told him she was in MacDonald's Fort Bragg home on the night of the murders. The marshal also said he heard  the woman make the same claim to federal prosecutor Jim Blackburn and that Blackburn threatened to indict her for murder if she made the claim on the witness stand.

Blackburn has denied the allegations.

The retired marshal, Jim Britt, died last month.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • wllmbraskey Nov 6, 2008

    I absolutely can't believe WRAL would consider this worth wasting perfectly good bandwidth to post. Waste it some more pictures of your hero Obama.

  • radixlecti Nov 6, 2008

    It wasn't too hard to figure out McDonald committed the murders because everyone in the house had a different blood type so the trail was easy to follow, and the fact everyone there was butchered, except him and his wounds were self inflicted. Remember he is a doctor.

  • garin78 Nov 6, 2008


  • ChristaS Nov 6, 2008

    I can't believe attorneys are still taking his money..........or wait........yes I can...........!!!

  • ifcdirector Nov 6, 2008

    I talked to a man who knew Jim Britt his entire life and he said if he was lying it was the first time he had ever heard of it. On the other hand if you are looking for menial labor from a man convicted later of embezzling his law client's money then just seek out the former convicted prosecutor in this case. It's amazing how the "justice" system won't even give anyone just one more chance at real justice isn't it? Is it any wonder people take the chances they do and don't rely on it? If Obama wants to reform something he can start there.

  • NCwhisperer... Nov 6, 2008

    I remember ALL the hullabalu with the trail, the book, the movie, and I say he need to burn then and now! He is guilty!

  • dbcooper41 Nov 6, 2008

    so let's see. a retired federal marshall comes forward to tell of real "issues" with the official story. the judge sits on it, refusing to hold any hearings or grant any motions for 3 years. the retired marshall dies and shazam, the judge suddenly decides it's time to rule on the appeal. nice timing!

  • devilblue Nov 6, 2008

    He should have received the death penalty many years ago! No conscience!!!

  • JaredsMom Nov 6, 2008

    I really believe after all these years of lying about it MacDonald has convinced himself he's innocent. But guess what? A jury convicted him and I have too. Guilty.