Breeze-Courier | Taylorville, IL
weather sponsored by
Hickory Estates of Taylorville

The Weather Network
Advanced Search
search sponsored by



home : news : national news free January 16, 2019

12/22/2018 9:21:00 AM
'Fatal Vision' doctor again denied new trial in '70 slayings
A federal appeals court has refused to grant a new trial to a former Army surgeon convicted of slaughtering his pregnant wife and two young daughters at Fort Bragg nearly half a century ago
Denise Lavoe
AP Legal Affairs Writer

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A former Army surgeon convicted of slaughtering his pregnant wife and two young daughters at Fort Bragg nearly half a century ago will not get a new trial, a federal appeals court ruled Friday in handing him his latest legal defeat.

Jeffrey MacDonald, now 75, has adamantly maintained his innocence in the 1970 slayings and insisted that his family was killed by drugged-up hippies, including a woman who chanted “acid is groovy; kill the pigs.”

Prosecutors say MacDonald killed his family with a knife and ice pick, then stabbed himself with a scalpel to make it look like he was attacked while trying to protect his family. They say he used his wife’s blood to write the word “PIG” over their bed to mimic the Charles Manson murders six months earlier.

After decades of failed appeals, MacDonald again sought to clear his name by asking the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a federal judge’s 2014 ruling rejecting a new trial. On Friday, the 4th Circuit court upheld that ruling.

MacDonald’s latest appeal was based on three hairs found at the crime scene that did not match the family’s DNA and a statement from a deputy U.S. marshal who accused the prosecution of intimidating a witness. A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit agreed with the lower court judge that the new evidence does not warrant a new trial.

“Simply put, we cannot say that the new evidence ... considered with all the other evidence, would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable factfinder would have found him guilty of the murders of his wife and daughters,” Judge Robert King wrote for the panel in the unanimous ruling.

The killings became known as the “Fatal Vision” case, the title of a 1983 true-crime book MacDonald asked author Joe McGinniss to write to show that he was innocent. Instead, McGinniss became convinced of MacDonald’s guilt.

MacDonald is serving three consecutive life sentences.

His lawyer, Hart Miles, called the ruling “devastating news,” but said MacDonald “will continue to fight for his freedom.”

“He continues to maintain his innocence and wants to express his sincere thanks to all the supporters who have stood by him,” Miles said in a statement.

The 4th Circuit overturned MacDonald’s convictions in 1980, ruling that the nine-year delay to bring him to trial violated his right to a speedy trial. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed that decision in 1982, and MacDonald was returned to prison.


This story has been corrected to show MacDonald was not a former Green Beret, deleting that reference.

Article Comment Submission Form
Please feel free to submit your comments.

If you are looking for the SPEAK OUT submission form, you can find it by clicking here: Speak Out Form

Article comments are not posted immediately to the Web site. Each submission must be approved by the Web site editor, who may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours for any submission while the web site editor reviews and approves it.

NOTE: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number and email address will not be displayed or shared.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Trinity Dodge Fixed
Dr Paul The Dentist
NewsWebPagesOpinionPeopleObituariesAg & BusinessSportsContact UsLife
Subscriptions | Username & Password Reminder | Change Password | Life

Breeze-Courier & Printing | 212 S Main St. Taylorville, IL 62568 | (217) 824-2233 |

© Copyright 2014 Breeze-Courier & Printing. All Rights Reserved.
Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Breeze-Courier & Printing.

Software © 1998-2019 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved