A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Double Jeopardy

Can a Murderer be Convicted After He was Acquitted Without Violating the Law Against Double Jeopardy?

By Jeremy Potter

On April 9, a military court found Army Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis guilty of murdering Kathryn Eastburn and her two daughters, ages three and five.  Eastburn was raped and all three were stabbed to death in their home just outside Fort Bragg, NC, while father and husband Gary Eastburn, an officer in the Air Force, was deployed at officers training in Alabama.

Hennis had adopted the Eastburn family dog two days before the murders; he was identified by an eyewitness in the original trial and convicted for the triple-homicide and sentenced to death in 1986.  Three years later, he was acquitted on appeal.

A free man, Hennis returned to the Army, eventually serving in Operation Desert Storm; he retired in 2004.  DNA evidence that was not available in the 1980s came to light in 2006, when authorities were able to match the DNA of the stored sample Hennis had voluntarily provided.

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