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Soldier Charged In 1985 Triple Murder

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FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Seventeen years after a civilian jury acquitted him of a grisly triple murder, a master sergeant on Thursday was charged with the crime by military officials.

Timothy Hennis was called back to active duty last month to face a possible court-martial in the 21-year-old unsolved case. He had retired from the Army and had moved to Lakewood, Wash., with his wife and two children.

Kathryn Eastburn and her daughters -- Kara, 5, and Erin, 3 -- were stabbed to death in their Summer Hill Road home near Fort Bragg on May 12, 1985. A year later, Hennis was convicted of the crimes and sentenced to die.

He won an appeal of the conviction, however, and was acquitted in his 1989 retrial.

Cumberland County investigators said in September that DNA evidence unavailable for testing in 1989 connected Hennis to the murders.

Double jeopardy prevents the state from retrying Hennis in the case since he been acquitted, but the military can court-martial him for any crimes he committed while on active duty, including anything that occurred off base.

The commander of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 18th Airborne Corps' Special Troops Battalion, where Hennis has been assigned since being recalled to duty, preferred charges against him, alleging he violated Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in connection with the slayings of Kathryn Eastburn and her daughters and violated Article 120 in connection with the rape of Kathryn Eastburn.

That officer will forward the charges to the commander of the Special Troops Battalion, who can dismiss the charges, refer them for court-martial or forward them to a superior officer for disposition.

Hennis has been assigned to a work detail at Fort Bragg but isn't confined on the post.

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