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'Fatal Vision' judge asked to limit new evidence

Oct. 9, 2013 - 01:46PM   |  
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WILMINGTON, N.C. — The judge who will determine whether to overturn the case of a former Army doctor convicted of killing his pregnant wife and two daughters more than 40 years ago at Fort Bragg has enough evidence and doesn’t need to consider more defense exhibits, federal prosecutors say.

Both sides in the Jeffrey MacDonald case had plenty of time to present their evidence at a hearing in September 2012 in Wilmington and through post-hearing memoranda, the prosecutors said in a Sept. 23, 2013, filing. If U.S. District Court Judge James Fox does consider the seven new defense exhibits, he should give them little weight, the prosecutors said.

“In the pre-hearing order, the parties agreed that all documents that were part of the record of this case in the district court and the circuit court were part of the evidence for this Court to consider in its disposition of the pending claims,” they wrote. “Neither party attached any new documents to its post-hearing memoranda.”

The new defense exhibits include affidavits from former MacDonald attorneys and a psychiatrist who examined him. The filings follow the September 2012 hearing, where defense attorneys argued MacDonald’s conviction should be overturned. Attorneys then filed more briefs.

If Fox does consider the new defense exhibits, then prosecutors want him to consider new exhibits from them, including video recordings from the television miniseries, “Fatal Vision,” based on a best-selling book by Joe McGinniss about the case.

In July, defense attorneys received the judge’s permission to file a response to the prosecutor’s brief, a move the government opposed at the time. Defense attorneys said they should be able to reply to the government brief since MacDonald bears the burden of proof in his quest to overturn his conviction and because doing so wouldn’t delay the case unduly.

Their response included the new exhibits. Fox hasn’t said when he’ll decide whether to consider the new exhibits or when he’ll rule on the motion to overturn the conviction.

MacDonald, 69, is serving three life sentences for the 1970 stabbing deaths of his pregnant wife, Colette, and his 5-year-old daughter Kimberley and 2-year-old daughter Kristen in their home at Fort Bragg.

He has always maintained that he awoke on a sofa in the home as three men attacked his family and a woman, wearing a blond wig and a floppy hat, chanted, “Acid is groovy. Kill the pigs.”

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