Local News

Army holds hearing for soldier charged in 1985 murders

Posted September 9, 2009

— Military judicial officers will hold a hearing Wednesday in the case of a Fort Bragg soldier charged in a 1985 triple slaying.

Master Sgt. Timothy B. Hennis, 51, will face an Article 39 hearing, which is the equivalent of a grand jury in civilian courts. The hearing precedes any further action such as a court-martial.

Military court holds hearing in 1985 slayings

Hennis 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. Investigators also believe that Eastburn was raped.

Hennis was convicted and sentenced to death in 1986. The North Carolina Supreme Court granted him a retrial after hearing arguments that prosecutors had overused graphic crime scene photos to inflame the jury in his original trial. A second jury acquitted him in 1989.

Hennis retired from the Army in 2004 and moved to Washington state.

Sgt. Larry Trotter, with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office, though, got interested in the case after taking a training class at Wake Technical Community College. New testing matched DNA from the 1985 rape kit to Hennis, according to the State Bureau of Investigation.

The Army recalled Hennis to active duty and ordered him to stand trial in military court. His trial has been set for Feb. 8, 2010.

13 Comments

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  • wa4mjf Sep 9, 3:02 p.m.

    timbo, the Army could have tried him originally, but since the 1970 Fort Bragg seems to let Cumberland County try folks. There have been several murders of late that Bragg deffered to civilian courts. Now that the civilian courts have failed, they're gonna do it right, I hope. The suspect was military and the victim's were military dependents, so there was ample reason for the military to try him from the gitgo. By the way, Lejunne is no better, they let two high profile murders go to civilain courts, Jarhead with child murdered (coulda tried him for both) and the Army Nurse that was murdered.

  • Lightfoot3 Sep 9, 1:56 p.m.

    “They need to see just how horrible this act was. Don't they?!” - familyfour


    What if an innocent person was on trial? No, they don’t need the theatrics and the playing on emotions. That’s what our court system has become. Whoever puts on the best show wins. Just present the facts and evidence.


    That said, if the dude is guilty, he should be burned at the stake.

  • Professor Sep 9, 1:11 p.m.

    If found guilty, then the courts should give him life in prison without parole.

  • Timbo Sep 9, 12:05 p.m.

    "When you enlist in the military you place yourself under another set of laws and rules."

    Really? Odd. I would think that his being recalled back to the military just so he can be retried on a charge he has already been acquitted is the epitome of double jeopardy.

    "It is the same as the Rodney King case in California. The officers were tried by the state and acquitted and then tried under federal laws an a couple were convicted."

    Agreed. That was a travesty of justice to retry the police. The randomness and inconsistency of when the feds charge people for civil rights violations clearly points to political motivations and pandering to a voting block.

    I mean where else in the world would it be considered a civil rights violation to restrain a person for arrest, but not a civil rights violation for almost cutting 2 people's heads off? California, I guess.

  • johnsod27330 Sep 9, 11:13 a.m.

    When you enlist in the military you place yourself under another set of laws and rules. This case is not double jeopardy. When Hennis was tried before it was under state charges, now he will probably be tried under federal charges. It is the same as the Rodney King case in California. The officers were tried by the state and acquitted and then tried under federal laws an a couple were convicted. In Hennis's first trial the conviction was thrown out because the prosecution projected the graphic pictures on the screen directly next to Hennis. His attorneys argued that this inflamed the jury and tied his face to the graphic pictures. If the prosecution had projected them on a screen not near Hennis the conviction might have stood. There is ample circumstantial evidence to convict Hennis. He had great lawyers at his second trial that were able to establish reasonable doubt due suspect eye witness testimony

  • TommyK Sep 9, 11:06 a.m.

    I didn't think that you could retry someone once aquitted. That goes for even if he confessed now. Sounds like a double jeopardy defense now. This man will never have peace even if he didn't do it.

  • Timbo Sep 9, 10:49 a.m.

    The second jury acquitted him? And you all are saying he's guilty? You all must have facts the jury didn't have. Or you are running off at the mouth without thinking.

    I am more concerned about double jeopardy than him being free.

    I guess if you were ever in the military you forfeit your rights for the rest of your life...

  • garnertoy Sep 9, 10:35 a.m.

    time to put him away

  • shellrocks2000 Sep 9, 10:09 a.m.

    DNA is awesome and will prove this monster did the horrible things to that family.

  • mtngirldcm Sep 9, 10:00 a.m.

    Yeah, way to go jury who let this monster go. And I'm with you familyfour, how the heck can you "overuse" actual crime scene photos of a REAL brutal rape/murder and the slaying of two little girls??? It is what it is, and the jury needs to be able to make an informed decision. Insane.

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