Local News

Trial delayed in 1985 triple homicide

Posted May 13, 2009 1:56 p.m. EDT

— 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.