Local News

Army holds hearing for soldier charged in 1985 murders

Posted September 9, 2009 8:32 a.m. EDT
Updated September 9, 2009 12:53 p.m. EDT

— 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.

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.