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September 20, 2012

Prosecutors attack new evidence in 'Fatal Vision' case

WILMINGTON, N.C. — Federal prosecutors yesterday attacked new evidence presented by convicted murderer Jeffrey MacDonald, turning to witnesses who challenged a claim by a former deputy U.S. marshal that others may have killed MacDonald’s family in 1970.

The former marshal, Jimmy Britt, said in sworn statements in 2005 that a key witness in the MacDonald case told him she was at MacDonald’s home at Fort Bragg, N.C., the February night his pregnant wife and daughters were murdered. Britt said Helena Stoeckley, a heroin addict, confessed to him as he drove her from South Carolina in 1979 to testify at MacDonald’s murder trial in Raleigh, N.C.

But yesterday, Britt’s fellow marshals testified that other marshals transported Stoeckley, and they portrayed Britt as a fabulist and troublemaker with a drinking problem. Prosecutors produced law enforcement documents showing that Britt was not one of the two marshals who drove Stoeckley that day.

The claims by Britt, who has since died, are a central part of new evidence presented by MacDonald’s lawyers at a federal court hearing ordered by a federal district court panel. MacDonald, now 68, is serving three life terms.

for killing his wife, Colette, and daughters Kimberley, 5, and Kristen, 2. The killings became the basis for a bestselling book, “Fatal Vision,” and a hit TV miniseries.

The defense says Stoeckley, who died in 1983, is the woman in a floppy hat who MacDonald told investigators was at his home the night of the murders, chanting “Acid is groovy, kill the pigs,” as three male intruders stabbed and bludgeoned his family.

Further undercutting Britt’s claims Wednesday, a former FBI agent who drove Stoeckley on a different occasion in 1979 testified that she told him she had no memory of the night of the murders because she was “knocked out” by mescaline, heroin and other drugs she had taken.

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