Ex-Green Beret gets hearing in '70 murders

Sept. 16, 2012 at 3:21 PM
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CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Ex-Green Beret and doctor Jeffrey MacDonald will argue in a North Carolina court Monday DNA evidence casts doubt on his 1979 conviction for killing his family.

MacDonald, 68, has consistently maintained his innocence in the 1970 stabbing and beating deaths of his wife and two young daughters in their Fort Bragg apartment. MacDonald contends two white men, a black man and a woman he encountered in the apartment killed his family, and beat and stabbed him.

He will formally present evidence of unidentified DNA at the crime scene and the statements of a now-elderly woman who claimed she took part in the killings.

The hearing set for U.S. District Court in Wilmington is the latest in a long-running legal battle that picked up steam this year with the release of a book contending MacDonald was not the killer.

"I believe he is innocent. I don't see any evidence to suggest that he is guilty," Errol Morris, author of "A Wilderness of Errors," told The New York Times this month. "One thing we do know is that evidence was lost, some of it went uncollected, and some of it was contaminated. One of the reasons we can't prove he is innocent is that so much of the evidence is unavailable to us."

A federal appeals court last year ordered a hearing on the new evidence, which The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer said could lead to a new trial or even tossing out the conviction.

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