Raleigh Criminal Defense Attorney Shares Insights on an Inmate Seeking New Appeal
Do you remember the book Fatal
Well, it was true crime novel by Joe McGinnis detailing the case of
Captain Jeffrey R. MacDonald, a former Army surgeon, who was found guilty of
killing his wife and two children and is now serving three life sentences in
MacDonald has always insisted that he is innocent. After years of failed
appeals, MacDonald now claims he has new evidence that proves he is not the
of the ‘fatal vision’ case
At 73 years old, MacDonald claims that on the night of Feb. 17, 1970, a
group of drugged hippies entered his home and murdered Colette McDonald, his
26-year old wife, and their two daughters, Kimberley, 5, and Kristen, 2.
The wounds that he presented to the police were caused by his failed
attempt to fend the attackers off and protect his family.
In light of new evidence, namely, three hairs obtained from the crime
scene that didn’t match the family’s DNA, and a statement from U.S. marshal
Jimmy Britt accusing the prosecution of intimidating Helena Stoeckley, a key
witness, MacDonald believes that he has enough evidence to have his case
appealed. Unfortunately, both Britt and Stoeckley have long since died.
Defense attorneys for MacDonald believe the new evidence sufficiently shifts
the blame for the murder to an unidentified third party and warrants a new
the chances of getting a new trial?
Is it possible for the court to accept a defendant’s appeal based on new
evidence presented by his or her criminal defense lawyer?
In a limited number of circumstances, it is, but each state has its own
rules. However, a defendant has very limited ability to present new evidence
before the court.
In North Carolina, among other circumstance, instances when the court
can consider new evidence include the following:
was not available at trial through the trial lawyer’s due diligence
Evidence could have affected the verdict if it
was presented during the trial
New relevant evidence becomes available after
the initial trial
the case of Brad Cooper, who we represented at his initial murder trial in
2008, the Appeals court granted a new trial in 2013 after reviewing the case noting
that defense expert testimony was not allowed to be presented at trial. Cooper
has since accepted a plea bargain agreement, but will not be serving out the
initial life sentence for first degree murder.
Criminal cases can often be very complex. Prosecutors seek to piece bits
of evidence together to present a realistic case to a jury. Often that evidence
is circumstantial, other times experts may disagree as to its relevance.
Criminal defense attorneys who understand the law must examine the evidence and
determine if it is reliable.
Our justice system only works when all of the evidence has been gathered
and presented at trial. Only then do we have a system that is fair and unbiased
against the accused.
For sure, everyone deserves a tenacious, vigorous defense when they are
charged with any type of criminal offense. Anyone charged with a crime should consult
a knowledgeable criminal defense
lawyer with Kurtz
'Fatal Vision' doctor claims innocence in family's slaying, FoxNews.com