Local News

Trial delayed in 1985 triple homicide

Posted May 13, 2009

— The trial of a soldier charged in a 1985 triple homicide will be delayed until September to allow defense experts to test evidence, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis, 51, is charged with three counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of Kathryn Eastburn, 31, and her two daughters, 3-year-old Erin and 5-year-old Kara, in their Fayetteville home in May 1985. Investigators also believe that Eastburn was raped.

Col. Patrick Parrish, the military judge handling the trial, ruled that the defense could use experts in DNA and hair, fiber and fingerprint analysis and that the government turn over six items of evidence to the experts.

The defense was blocked from analyzing 33 other pieces of evidence, Parrish said, unless they can prove later that testing these items would greatly help their case.

To give the defense experts time to conduct their tests, Parrish moved the trial date from July 7 to Sept. 14.

Hennis was stationed at Fort Bragg in 1985 and had bought a dog from the Eastburns, investigators said. Kathryn Eastburn's husband was an Air Force officer who was attending a training school when the killings occurred.

Hennis was convicted of the slayings in 1986, but after the verdict and death sentence were overturned on appeal, a second jury acquitted him in 1989. He later retired and moved out of state.

A few years ago, local authorities found DNA evidence that they said linked Hennis to the crimes. Because he couldn't be retried in state court following his acquittal, the Army recalled him to active duty in October 2006 to try him in military court.

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  • johnsod27330 May 13, 2009

    There is no comparison between Jeffrey MacDonald and this case. MacDonald killed his family. This guy is charged with killing a stranger and her children. This is also not double jeopardy. It is like the Rodney King case. The officers were acquitted in state court and federal charges were brought against them. He can be tried by the military in a court martial because he (a) was in the military; and (b) because she was a military dependent. They didn't have DNA available during his original trial. If so he would not have been acquitted at the retrial.

  • ccsloop May 13, 2009

    Deathrow,

    He can't be retried because of "double jeopardy". It has nothing to do with NC's death penalty.

  • jahausa May 13, 2009

    this is messed up. double jeopardy, anyone? though he got away with murder...

  • Sauratownmtn May 13, 2009

    Looks just like another Jeffrey McDonald case from Fort Bragg during the early "70's. Anyone remember that??????

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT May 13, 2009

    "Because he couldn't be retried in state court following his acquittal, the Army recalled him to active duty in October 2006 to try him in military court."

    You gotta love it! Cahunaless North Carolina doesn't currently have an active Death Penalty. But the military DOES!