You Be the Judge The Jeffrey MacDonald Court Case Part 1

About the Jeffrey MacDonald case of murder, history of the trial. Read the facts and decide for yourself.

YOU, THE JURY

The Jeffrey MacDonald Case (1979)

The Murders: In the early morning hours of Feb. 17, 1970, Mrs. Colette MacDonald, 26, and her two daughters, six-year-old Kimberly and two-year-old Kristen, were brutally murdered in their home at 544 Castle Drive in the junior officers' housing section of Fort Bragg, N.C. Mrs. MacDonald, then five months pregnant, was struck with a club and stabbed repeatedly with a knife and an ice pick. The girls also suffered multiple stab wounds. The word pig was scrawled in blood across the headboard of Mrs. MacDonald's bed. Her husband, Capt. Jeffrey MacDonald, also 26, survived a blow on the head and more than a dozen stab wounds--all superficial except for one that grazed his right lung--to telephone the military police at 3:42 A.M. and to describe later in vague terms four drug-crazed hippie intruders who, he said, overpowered him and murdered his family while chanting, "Acid is groovy. Kill the pigs!" Captain MacDonald claimed that one black and two white males and a blond girl holding a candle and wearing a floppy hat and muddy boots committed the crimes. Investigators discovered no evidence of forced entry but found a back door unlocked and two paring knives, an ice pick, an 18-in. club, and a candle about the premises.

The Accused: A native of Patchogue, Long Island, N.Y., Jeffrey MacDonald won a scholarship to Princeton University, which he breezed through in three years. While a student at Princeton he got his childhood sweetheart Colette pregnant; they married in September, 1963, six months before daughter Kimberly's birth. The couple moved to Chicago, where Jeffrey attended Northwestern University Medical School. Graduating in 1968, he interned at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served as a narcotics specialist with the Green Berets at Fort Bragg. His marriage to Colette appears to have been a happy one for the first three or four years. But when Colette's mother and stepfather, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Kassab, visited the MacDonalds at Christmas in 1969, they noticed a palpable strain in the couple's relationship. In addition, shortly before the murders Colette had complained to her mother that she was unhappy about being pregnant again.

On Oct, 28, 1970, following a months-long closed hearing to determine whether sufficient evidence existed to court-martial MacDonald for the murder of his family, the army exonerated him and, at his request, granted him an honorable discharge. MacDonald then moved west to become a highly respected director of emergency surgery at St. Mary Medical Center at Long Beach, Calif., and an honorary member of that city's police association. But while he was busy putting his life back together, his former father-in-law, Alfred Kassab, became suspicious. Kassab had staunchly defended MacDonald during the army hearing, but as he poured over the 2,000-page transcript of the hitherto secret proceedings, he was troubled by certain testimony. For example, MacDonald claimed that he did not own an ice pick, but Kassab had seen one in the MacDonald house. Also, during the hearing MacDonald suggested that a hairbrush which contained hair that did not come from Colette MacDonald's head had been left at the murder scene by the female intruder. The Kassabs, however, recognized the hairbrush as one that Mrs. Kassab forgot to pack at the end of their last visit. With such questions nagging at him, Kassab launched a crusade to bring MacDonald to trial. His efforts touched off a chain of events that in 1975 led a federal grand jury in Raleigh, N.C., to indict MacDonald on three counts of murder. In March, 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court denied MacDonald's second appeal to quash the indictment and ordered him to stand trial in federal court in Raleigh. The trial opened July 16, 1979.

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