You Be the Judge The Jeffrey MacDonald Court Case Part 3

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


The Jeffrey MacDonald Case (1979)

Your Verdict: Did Jeffrey MacDonald murder his wife and children and then, in a paroxysm of self-preservation, set the stage to look like a cult slaying? The pajama top, the footprint, and the superficiality of the majority of Dr. MacDonald's wounds all point to his guilt. But what about the blond girl seen lurking about the premises that night? And how could even a surgeon ensure that multiple self-inflicted stab wounds--including one thrust that reached the lungs--would not be fatal? What is your verdict? Does it agree with the jury's verdict below?

The Real-Life Verdict: On Aug. 29, 1979, after deliberating for 6 1/2 hours, the jury found Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald guilty of second-degree murder in the deaths of his wife and older daughter and of first-degree murder in the death of his younger daughter. Judge Dupree sentenced him to three consecutive life terms. MacDonald's motion to remain free pending appeal was denied. He had served less than a year at the Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island when, on July 30, 1980, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., voted 2 to 1 to overturn his conviction on the grounds that the nine-year lapse between the crime and the trial constituted a violation of MacDonald's 6th Amendment right to a speedy trial. MacDonald was freed on Aug. 22, 1980, on $100,000 bond. Asked by reporters whether the court's decision might stigmatize him as a murderer set free on a legal technicality, Dr. MacDonald responded, "I don't think the Bill of Rights is a technicality. The charges are not true . . . I am not guilty, and there is no technicality involved." Prosecutors took the case to the Supreme Court which will render a decision in early 1982.

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