Former Army doctor Jeffrey MacDonald, convicted 25 years ago of the stabbing deaths of his pregnant wife and two daughters, will seek parole but will continue to proclaim his innocence, one of his attorneys said Monday.
MacDonald, eligible for parole since 1991, has declined to seek his freedom because he said he would have to admit guilt for the slayings at the family’s apartment at Fort Bragg on Feb. 17, 1970. But MacDonald remarried a few years ago and has more reasons to want a life outside of prison, said his attorney, Tim Junkin of Potomac, Md.
“He doesn’t have any kind of change of heart. He’s going to try to vindicate himself,” Junkin said in a telephone interview. “He knows in his heart he’s innocent and will always insist on that.”
Junkin said he did not know when the request was filed with the U.S. Parole Commission and said he would not disclose when or where the hearing would be held.
Newsweek, which first reported the parole request this week, said the hearing would be held in February. That story quoted Christina Masewicz, a retired nurse who has written a book about the case and obtained a federal document confirming the hearing.
Widely publicized case
MacDonald, 61, is being held at the federal prison in Cumberland, Md., where he is serving three life terms for the slayings of his wife, Collette, 26, and daughters Kimberly, 5, and Kristen, 2.
He married a long-time friend, Kathryn Kurichh, in 2002.
“He has a fairly new wife. He has a lot of reasons to live for if he could get out of prison,” Junkin said. “We have urged him to consider all his options as long as they’re not inconsistent with his quest to prove his innocence.”
Junkin said he did not believe that MacDonald had to admit guilt to be paroled.
MacDonald was assigned to Special Forces at the time his family was slain. He claimed that the killers stabbed and clubbed his family to death while one chanted: “Acid is groovy. Kill the pigs.” The highly publicized case was recounted in a best-selling book, “Fatal Vision,” and television miniseries.
The Army said it did not have enough evidence to try MacDonald, and he went free for years. A federal court jury in Raleigh convicted MacDonald of the killings in 1979 after the U.S. Justice Department reopened the case.
In 1997, a federal appeals court rejected MacDonald’s effort to reopen his case on the basis of his claim that the FBI allegedly misled the courts about fiber evidence.