State News

Court-martial set to begin for soldier charged in 1985 triple-homicide

Posted March 15, 2010 2:53 p.m. EDT
Updated March 15, 2010 3:06 p.m. EDT

Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis leaves the federal courthouse in Raleigh on Feb. 26, 2010, after a hearing in which he challenged the Army's right to try him for three 1985 slayings in Fayetteville.

— A Fort Bragg soldier accused of killing a mother and her two daughters 25 years ago is going on trial for the third time after prosecutors say new DNA technology revealed a link to the slayings.

Opening statements are set for Wednesday in 51-year-old Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis' court-martial.

Hennis is charged with three counts of premeditated murder in the May 9, 1985, deaths of 31-year-old Kathryn Eastburn and her 5-year-old and 3-year-old daughters in their Summerhill Road home in Fayetteville.

Hennis was first convicted in state court, but won an appeal and was acquitted in a second state trial.

Hennis couldn't be tried in state court again, so the case was turned over to the Army after investigators said a new DNA test linked Hennis to the killings.

Officials said the court-martial could last two months, with up to 120 witnesses slated to be called by prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Hennis has filed a federal lawsuit to halt the court-martial, saying the Army doesn't have jurisdiction in the case because he had discharged in 1989 before re-enlisting.