Jeffrey MacDonald, convicted in the 1970 stabbing and beating deaths of his pregnant wife and two daughters, recently had a new hearing and is waiting for a federal judge to decide whether he will receive a new trial or have his conviction vacated altogether, according to a recent Los Angeles Times report. He’s not alone among former Army Green Berets hoping a judge will act in his favor. Kelly A. Stewart hopes five of them will.
Unlike MacDonald, Stewart is waiting on a five-judge panel at the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces to decide whether he gets a new trial or some other form of clemency.
Unlike MacDonald, Stewart wasn’t convicted of murder. Instead, he was convicted of crimes that resulted in him spending time behind bars at the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and being branded a “sex offender” for the rest of his life. Sadly, his conviction was based almost exclusively on the testimony of his accuser, a former mental patient.
Unlike MacDonald, Stewart’s case doesn’t hinge upon new DNA evidence or new witness testimony. Everything — including the post-trial testimony of several individuals who said Stewart’s accuser lied during the trial — has been on the table at every stage of Stewart’s appeals process which, so far, has been unsuccessful.
While MacDonald’s case went on to become the subject of a 1984 movie based on the book, “Fatal Vision,” by Joe McGinniss, Stewart’s case became the subject of my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August, published one year ago.
To learn more about MacDonald’s case, keep your eyes on the headlines.