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Ex-officer in ‘Fatal Vision’ murders appeals release denial

April 23, 2021 GMT

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A former Army doctor serving life in prison for the “Fatal Vision” slayings of his wife and two young daughters in 1970 is appealing a federal court ruling this month denying his requested release due to poor health.

Court officials on Friday sent the appeal notice filed late Thursday by attorneys for Jeffrey MacDonald to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. MacDonald’s lawyers intend to challenge the April 9 order by District Judge Terrence Boyle.

The judge wrote that he lacked authority to adjust MacDonald’s prison time because a law governing compassionate release requests doesn’t apply to those who committed their crimes before a 1987 cutoff.

Serving his sentences at a Maryland prison, the 77-year-old MacDonald has chronic kidney disease, skin cancer and high blood pressure, according to court documents.

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MacDonald was convicted in 1979 for the slayings of his pregnant wife, Colette; 5-year-old daughter Kimberley; and 2-year-old daughter Kristen at their family home at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. MacDonald has declared his innocence and spent years on appeals in the “Fatal Vision” case, named for a book about the investigation. The 4th Circuit refused in late 2018 to grant MacDonald a new trial.