Fatal Vision Convict Heads to Court to Try to Clear Name
Jeffrey MacDonald hopes DNA exonerates him in 1970 family slayings
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 15, 2012 12:39 PM CDT
In this Aug. 28, 1979, file photo, Jeffrey MacDonald, right, appears in federal court in Wilmington, N.C.   ((AP Photo, File))

(Newser) – Jeffrey MacDonald, a clean-cut Green Beret and doctor convicted of killing of his pregnant wife and their two daughters, is getting another chance at trying to prove his innocence—more than four decades after the slayings terrified a nation gripped by his tales of Charles Manson-like hippies doped up on acid slaughtering his family in their own home. The case now hinges on something that wasn't available when he was first put on trial: DNA evidence. A federal judge will convene a hearing on Monday to consider new DNA evidence and witness testimony that MacDonald and his supporters say will finally clear him of a crime that became the basis of a best-selling book (Fatal Vision) and a made-for-TV drama.

It's just the latest twist in a case that has been the subject of military and civilian courts, intense legal wrangling, and shifting alliances. "This is Jeff's opportunity to be back in court almost 33 years to the day of his conviction," says Kathryn MacDonald, who married him a decade ago while he's been in prison. MacDonald, now 68 and not eligible for parole until 2020, has never wavered from his claim that he didn't kill his pregnant wife, Colette, and their two daughters, ages 5 and 2. He has maintained that he awoke from a slumber on their sofa in their home on the base of Fort Bragg in the early morning hours of Feb. 17, 1970, as they were being attacked by intruders—three men and a woman. The gruesome stabbing and beating deaths came just three months after the Manson-family slayings in California.

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Showing 3 of 4 comments
Sep 16, 2012 9:05 AM CDT
He did it.
Sep 16, 2012 3:01 AM CDT
This guy is as guilty as sin. Joe McGuinness started out with the idea that he would clear McDonald. The more he delved the more he found McDonald was a liar. He wrote "Fatal Vision" starting out a believer in McDonald (as was McDonald's father-in-law!) until they both came to the inexcapable conclusion he was guilty. This so-called dismissed evidence was dismissed for a reason: the woman he's talking about was a drug-addled schizophrenic who never said anything that wasn't available in print.
Sep 15, 2012 2:00 PM CDT
Wasn't there a movie about that, with Will Ferrell and Cheech & Chong?