State News

Federal judge: Hennis court-martial can proceed

Posted March 16, 2010
Updated March 17, 2010

— A federal judge has rejected a motion to halt the court-martial of a retired soldier forced back into the Army to face charges in triple slaying that occurred a quarter-century ago in Fayetteville.

Lawyers for Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis argued last month that the military does not have the power to charge him in the killings. U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle ruled Tuesday that it would be inappropriate to decide that issue with a court-martial in progress.

Boyle dismissed the motion, allowing the case to continue through the military judicial system.

The 51-year-old Hennis is charged with premeditated murder in the May 1985 stabbing deaths of Kathryn Eastburn and two of her daughters in their Summerhill Road home in Fayetteville.

Hennis was convicted of the crimes in 1986, but the state Supreme Court threw out the conviction, saying prosecutors had improperly used graphic crime scene photos. During a second trial in 1989, Hennis was acquitted.

Investigators found DNA evidence several years ago that they say link Hennis to the slayings, but he couldn't be tried again in state court because of double jeopardy. So the Army recalled him to active duty in late 2006 so he could be tried in military court.

Opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday. The trial could last up to two months.

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  • seankelly15 Mar 17, 2010

    COPs eye - "Fruits of the forbidden tree concept." The concept deals with illegally obtainned evidence.

  • Prancy Mar 17, 2010

    Even though I am a liberal, I side with the military on this one. This is assuming that the DNA was not planted and that it really connects him to him the victims. We can't mistrust eveybody who trying to put murderers away.

  • kb4exl Mar 17, 2010

    He was on retainer pay and one condition of taking retainer pay is that the guvment can call you back at their pleasure.

  • COPs eye Mar 17, 2010

    Also, before anyone says that the feds should never charge anyone who is found not guilty by the state. If it wasn't for the feds, the men who killed the civil rights workers in 62 would never have been punished because a Miss. court found them not guilty. Sometimes, the feds need to step in so justice can be delivered...RaceCard Balker

    That is undeniably correct! In this case I would question the Army's ability to bring him back to active duty for a trial, but since they are going through with it the question remains....if he is found guilty and then it is ruled the Army wasnt allowed to bring him back are the findings kicked out or not. Fruits of the forbidden tree concept.

  • AnotherIgnoredComment Mar 17, 2010

    Sounds like double jeopardy to me. He has already been tried and acquitted by a court of law. How can he be tried again for the same crime? Doesn't the 5th amendment to the US Constitution specifically forbid this?
    onepilot61

    Two different charges, one federal, one state. So not double jeopardy. If the state tried to charge again after aquital it would be. And I know...thats not fair...well really not fair what happened to those innocent girls.

    Also, before anyone says that the feds should never charge anyone who is found not guilty by the state. If it wasn't for the feds, the men who killed the civil rights workers in 62 would never have been punished because a Miss. court found them not guilty. Sometimes, the feds need to step in so justice can be delivered.

  • RonnieR Mar 16, 2010

    He is charged with killing military dependents. Shoulda been the Army's case all along. In the past few years there has been a tendency for the military to push their cases to the civilian courts. DOD seems to not wanna take responsibility for the actions of their folks. Glad to see in this case they are, finally.

  • Paul Parker Mar 16, 2010

    Sounds like double jeopardy to me. He has already been tried and acquitted by a court of law. How can he be tried again for the same crime? Doesn't the 5th amendment to the US Constitution specifically forbid this?

  • Tarheelfan13 Mar 16, 2010

    imtoofastforyou2, the military would have jurisdiction as well because any active duty military member is subject to the Uniform Code of Justice no matter where in the world an active duty military person is. And the UCMJ has an article that makes murder a crime.

  • imtoofastforyou2 Mar 16, 2010

    I find it interesting that the military is trying an incident that happened outside of it's jurisdiction. The crime happened in fayetteville, not on Ft Bragg. Just seems to me the DA and the JAG have colluded to get another bite at the jepardy apple. I don't know if he is responsible for the crime or not. But this certainly has a bad smell to it. In the current climate of wrongly convicted people in this country, it seems the montage of 100 guilty men should be freed as opposed to 1 innocent man being imprisoned. Guess innocents is of little importance in this so called justice system of ours. It's all about winning at any cost.