RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A federal judge has refused to release an ex-Army captain imprisoned for decades for the murders of his wife and two young daughters, deciding he lacked authority to consider Jeffrey MacDonald’s request.
U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle issued the denial Friday, four weeks after MacDonald’s attorneys came to court to ask the judge to let him go home because of his deteriorating health.
MacDonald was convicted in 1979 for the 1970 slayings of his pregnant wife and two daughters at their family home at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg.
MacDonald has declared his innocence and spent years on appeal.
MacDonald has maintained he was wrongly convicted while the police let the real killers get away. He claims that a group of hippies slaughtered 26-year-old Colette MacDonald and their daughters Kimberley, 5, and Kristen, 2, during a drug-fueled attack in 1970 that left him severely injured.
MacDonald told the police he called to his home on Feb. 17, 1970, that he was awakened by the screams of his wife and daughters and was attacked by intruders – three men and a woman with long blond hair, a floppy hat, and boots who carried a lighted candle and chanted “acid is groovy; kill the pigs.”
Prosecutors still maintain that the evidence shows MacDonald killed them and wrote the word “PIG” in blood over their bed in an attempt to imitate the Charles Manson murders six months earlier.
The case was later the focus of a true-crime book called “Fatal Vision.”