RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A timeline of major events in the “Fatal Vision” case against Jeffrey MacDonald.
- Feb. 17, 1970: Colette, Kimberley, and Kristen MacDonald - the wife and daughters of Army surgeon Jeffrey MacDonald - are beaten and stabbed to death in the family’s apartment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
- December 1970: The Army gives Capt. MacDonald an honorable discharge after dropping all military charges against him.
- 1975: Jeffrey MacDonald is indicted on three counts of murder in federal court at the persistence of Colette’s stepfather, Alfred Kassab, an early supporter of MacDonald’s who became convinced that he killed them.
- 1979: MacDonald is convicted of all three murders and sentenced to life in prison.
- 1980: The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reverses his convictions, ruling the nine-year delay violated his speedy-trial rights.
- 1982: The U.S. Supreme Court reverses the 4th Circuit; MacDonald is rearrested and returned to prison.
- 1984: “Fatal Vision,” a true-crime book MacDonald invited Joe McGinniss to write to demonstrate his innocence, is published. In it, McGinniss instead makes a case for guilt. MacDonald eventually wins a $325,000 breach of contract settlement. Most of the money is put in a trust.
- 1990: “The Journalist and the Murderer,” by Janet Malcolm, accuses McGinniss of immorally tricking MacDonald.
- 1991: MacDonald, now eligible for parole, maintains his innocence and doesn’t apply.
- 1995: “Fatal Justice: Reinvestigating the MacDonald Murders,” written by MacDonald supporters Fred Bost and Jerry Allen Potter, is published.
- 2006 - 4th Circuit allows MacDonald to introduce evidence that Jimmy Britt, a retired deputy U.S. marshal, said he heard prosecutor Jim Blackburn threaten witness, Helena Stoeckley. DNA testing later shows that MacDonald’s hair was found in Colette’s hand, and hair from an unidentified person is found under a daughter’s fingernail.
- 2008: U.S. District Court Judge John C. Fox dismisses MacDonald’s appeal.
- 2011: 4th Circuit orders the U.S. District Court to consider new evidence.
- 2012: “A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald,” by Errol Morris, argues that the criminal investigation was botched and MacDonald was wrongly convicted. A hearing on new evidence is held.
- 2014: U.S. District Court denies bid for new trial.
- 2015: U.S. District Court rejects MacDonald’s request to change his 2014 decision.
- 2017: MacDonald again asks the 4th Circuit to overturn his convictions based on the statements from Britt and Stoeckley and evidence about three hairs at the crime scene whose DNA hasn’t matched anyone involved.
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