One of the most infamous murder trials in modern U.S. history is will be reinvestigated in a courtroom this week.
Jeffrey MacDonald may be getting another chance to try to prove his innocence more than 30 years after being convicted of killing his his pregnant wife, Colette, and their daughters, Kimberley and Kristen. MacDonald is currently serving three life sentences in federal prison.
MacDonald, now 68 and not eligible for parole until 2020, has never wavered from his initial testimony that a group of hippies beat and stabbed to death his pregnant wife and two young daughters in their home on February 17, 1970 while he was at home, sleeping on a couch. When he heard screaming, he awoke to find three men and one woman he described to have been wearing a floppy hat and had blonde hair.
A federal judge in Wilmington, NC will be deciding Monday, whether Jeffrey MacDonald should recieve a new trial. MacDonald’s lawyer plans to focus on two key pieces of evidence: (1) hairs found don’t match MacDonald or his family’s DNA and (2) a statement from Jimmy Britt, a deputy U.S. marshal who came forward years later; Britt stated that he overheard prosecutor Jim Blackburn threatened Helena Stoeckley, a troubled local woman, whom MacDonald had identified as one of the attackers and whose initial testimony would have been corroborating evidence in MacDonald’s innocence.
One of MacDonald’s previous attorney’s has said Stoeckley was prepared to testify she was in the MacDonald home the night of the murders until Blackburn threatened to indict her on murder charges. She later testified at trial that she couldn’t remember where she was that night.
When those two things are considered with the totality of the evidence, MacDonald’s attorney is confident that no reasonable juror would find MacDonald guilty.