Ex-Green Beret in court in 'Fatal Vision' case

Associated Press Modified: September 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm •  Published: September 17, 2012
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — For more than 40 years, Jeffrey MacDonald has never wavered from his claim that intruders killed his pregnant wife and two daughters. On Monday, the former Green Beret doctor came into federal court with new evidence he hopes will clear his name.

The evidence involves DNA on hairs found in the apartment on Fort Bragg and a statement from a deputy U.S. marshal. The marshal said a woman told him she was in the apartment in the early morning hours of Feb. 17, 1970, when Colette, Kimberly and Kristen MacDonald were stabbed and beaten to death.

MacDonald, 68, has always maintained that he awoke on a sofa in the home as three men attacked his family and a woman, wearing a blonde wig and a floppy hat, chanted "acid is groovy, kill the pigs."

Testimony on Monday focused on the statement from the marshal, Jimmy Britt, and on Helena Stoeckley, a drug addict and troubled woman who repeatedly said outside of court that she was in the MacDonald home. She testified, however, that she didn't remember where she was that night.

MacDonald's attorneys said jurors wouldn't have found him guilty in 1979 if they could have considered the marshal's statement and DNA evidence that shows three hairs found in the home on the night of the killings did not belonging to any family member.

Those who believe MacDonald committed the killings have said the hairs could have come from anyone — neighbors or other people who had been in the home.

Wade Smith, one of MacDonald's trial attorneys, testified Monday about how Britt came to him in 2005 to say Stoeckley told him she was in the apartment when the MacDonalds were killed. Britt also said he heard the prosecutor, Jim Blackburn, tell Stoeckley that he would charge her in the case if she testified to that on the stand.

Britt, who has since died, came forward because "he wanted to unload his heart and his soul," Smith testified. Stoeckley also is dead.

Blackburn, who later went into private practice, was disbarred and served a prison sentence for ethical violations. He is expected to be called as a witness.

But Smith also said a day before the trial that Stoeckley never said anything in his presence that helped prove MacDonald's innocence.

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