State News

Court hears 'Fatal Vision' appeal after 40 years

Posted March 23, 2010

— A federal appeals court spent about 45 minutes Tuesday questioning lawyers about the latest bid for a new trial for a former Army doctor convicted in the 1970 slayings of his pregnant wife and two daughters.

Jeffrey MacDonald, 66, is serving three life terms for the murders in a Fort Bragg home that spawned the book and television miniseries "Fatal Vision."

Kathryn MacDonald, wife of Jeffrey MacDonald Wife says evidence proves MacDonald's innocence

MacDonald wants the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to allow him to introduce new evidence, including DNA tests and sworn statements by two people who are now dead, which he says supports his claim of innocence.

He has always maintained that four drug-crazed hippies killed his family.

In 1997, a federal judge ordered DNA testing in the case. Defense lawyers say a hair was found under the fingernail of one of his daughters and contend that DNA helps prove the theory of intruders.

"It's not Jeff's hair," Kathryn MacDonald, who married MacDonald in 2002, said after Tuesday's court hearing. "It's unsourced, and that is inexplicable evidence of actual innocence."

MacDonald's attorneys also argued Tuesday that Helena Stoeckley would have testified that she was in the home the night of the murders but changed her story after a prosecutor threatened to charge her with the killings.

Stoeckley has since died, as has Deputy U.S. Marshal Jim Britt, who said in court papers that he heard the prosecutor threaten her.

Prosecutors contend there is no reason to reopen these issues, saying the case has to end at some point.

"I don't know anyone who could do what he's done – to stand strong (and) never waiver for 30 years of wrongful incarceration," Kathryn MacDonald said.

She said she was encouraged by the questions asked by the three-judge panel. A ruling isn't expected for several months.


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  • johnsod27330 Mar 24, 2010

    I like how people spin things their way. True, the DNA testing did show an unsourced hair under one of the girls fingers, but, one, that hair didn't belong to Stokely or Mitchell who MacDonald says were the killers, and two, there was a limb hair found clutched in Colettes that that still had the root attached (indicating it was torn from the attacker). The MacDonald camp claimed for years that this hair belonged to the killer. Well DNA showed that that hair belonged to Jeff MacDonald. I urge all to go to the below site to read all the documents on the case.

  • sunneyone Mar 23, 2010

    Her name was Helena Stoeckley.

  • sunneyone Mar 23, 2010

    Quilty huh?

  • batcave Mar 23, 2010

    Most people thought he was quilty after he got off. Inlaws thouth he was quilty , they never gave up. The guy who wrote the book , ended up thinking he was quilty as well , even though he went into the project thinking the guy would be innocent, but Jeff convinced him otherwise --Bledsoe?

  • whatever02 Mar 23, 2010

    Girl allegedly in blonde wig was Helena Stokely. Also had on a floppy hat I think or that's thr story. From what I've read and seen, I'm convinced he is where he needs to be. you should all read about it - it's really fascinating. He was living the good life in California for 7 years before they finally got him. A lady who worked in the SBI lab figured out a key part of the evidence. It's really fun to read about.

  • csplantlover Mar 23, 2010

    I guess the proof is in the DNA evidence, if there is any credible to be found after this long......I think he's guilty but who knows. He's just slimy enough to keep trying to get out of prison........

  • St Ives Mar 23, 2010

    Read Fatal Justice. We can never be hurt by looking at the "facts" again.
    Look at the Greg Taylor case. He could still be in jail if some had their way.

  • shortcake53 Mar 23, 2010

    He was guilty 40 years ago and still is. He is exactly where he belongs.

  • sunneyone Mar 23, 2010

    My friend who is obsessed with true crime thinks that McDonald was dealing drugs out of the hospital and when he stopped selling, these characters broke into his house to murder him and steal his stash. Apparently some MPs saw a chick in a blonde wig on base while they were en route to the house. Apparently they were also seen in Spring Lake that night.

  • sunneyone Mar 23, 2010

    Real convenient that his witnesses are dead....