RALEIGH, N.C. — Jeffrey MacDonald, a Green Beret and doctor convicted of killing his pregnant wife and their two daughters, may get another chance to try proving his innocence — more than four decades after the nation was gripped by his tales of hippies on acid slaughtering his family.
The case now hinges on something that wasn’t available when he was first put on trial: DNA evidence.
A federal judge planned to hold a hearing Monday to consider new DNA evidence and witness testimony that MacDonald and his supporters say will finally clear him of a crime that became the basis of Joe McGinniss’s best-selling book ‘‘Fatal Vision’’ and a made-for-TV drama. It’s the latest twist in a case that has been the subject of military and civilian courts, intense legal wrangling, and shifting alliances.
The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit granted MacDonald’s request for the hearing. It’s expected to last up to two weeks, and the judge will determine whether to order a new trial.
MacDonald, now 68, said he awoke on the sofa in his home at Fort Bragg on Feb. 17, 1970, as his wife and daughters were being attacked by three men and a woman.
The gruesome stabbing and beating deaths came just a few months after the similar Manson family slayings of seven people in California.