Second prosecutor in MacDonald case says key witness didn't confess
The Fayetteville Observer
WILMINGTON, N.C. — A second prosecutor from Jeffrey MacDonald's 1979 murder trial corroborated prior testimony that key witness Helena Stoeckley did not confess to taking part in the killings on Fort Bragg, according to testimony on Thursday.
The former prosecutor, Jack Crawley, confirmed much of what Jim Blackburn testified Wednesday: That when the prosecutors interviewed Stoeckley the day before she took the stand, she never admitted to being in the MacDonald home or having anything to do with the 1970 slayings of Colette MacDonald and her two daughters.
Jeffrey MacDonald, a former Army captain, is seeking to overturn his convictions and three life sentences for the murders. The hearing this week is at U.S. District Court in Wilmington.
MacDonald contends that Stoeckley was part of a group of home invaders who beat and stabbed him and his family. Prosecutors alleged that he staged the invasion scenario, going so far as to stab himself.
In 2005, a retired deputy U.S. marshal made statements that he heard Stoeckley confess to prosecutors that she was involved, and that Blackburn threatened to charge her with murder if she admitted this under oath during the MacDonald trial.
Blackburn testified Wednesday that Stoeckley never told prosecutors that she was involved, and he denied making threats.
But Blackburn's credibility could be in question over having lost his law license in the 1990s and serving prison time for forgery, fraud and embezzlement.
In today's testimony, Crawley said he was present at the prosecution's meeting with Stoeckley. She was a key defense witness who could have potentially damaged their case, so "we were on pins and needles" when she was questioned, he said.
Stoeckley, a drug addict and police informant in Fayetteville in 1970, had told people over the years that she thought she was in the MacDonald home the night of the killings. But Crawley testified Stoeckley denied the story in the meeting, which also had present U.S. Attorney George Anderson and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Murtagh.
Retired Deputy Marshal Jimmy Britt, who is dead, said in 2005 that he was in the room during the interview. Blackburn has testified that Britt wasn't there, and Crawley said today, "I don't think he was there, but I cannot say with absolute certainty."
Like Blackburn, Crawley has a damaged reputation. He got in trouble with the State Bar for not diligently representing his clients and for mishandling a client's money. Citing a mental disability, which he never specified in his testimony, he said he became too disabled to practice law. The Bar took his license in 1996.
Testimony this afternoon includes the lead investigator of the murders, retired Chief Warrant Officer 3 Bill Ivory. So far today, he has described the investigation and crime scene photos.