Local News

Soldier says Army can't try him for triple homicide

Posted February 23, 2010 12:13 p.m. EST

— A Fort Bragg soldier charged with killing a Fayetteville woman and her two daughters almost 25 years ago claims in a that the Army doesn't have the authority to try him for the crimes.

Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis is charged in the deaths of Kathryn Eastburn and two of her daughters, who were killed in their Fayetteville home on May 9, 1985.

Hennis, who was stationed at Fort Bragg at the time of the murders, was convicted in state court and sentenced to die in 1986. The state Supreme Court granted him a retrial after ruling that prosecutors had used graphic crime scene photos to inflame the jury in his original trial.

A second jury acquitted Hennis in 1989.

An investigator with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office uncovered new DNA evidence in the case several years ago, and the Army recalled Hennis to active duty in 2006 so he could be tried in military court. A trial is set to begin next week.

Hennis' attorneys contend that previous court rulings have set a standard that, after someone has been discharged from the armed services, he or she cannot be court-martialed for crimes that occurred before the discharge.

Hennis was discharged from the Army in October 1986, but after his acquittal, he was given credit for three more years of service and was awarded an honorable discharge in June 1989.

U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle has scheduled a Friday hearing on Hennis' lawsuit.