The Jeffrey MacDonald Information Site is a compendium of information about the Jeffrey MacDonald case. MacDonald was convicted in 1979 of the murders of his pregnant wife and two small daughters. He is serving three life sentences for that brutal crime.


The Murders of Colette, Kimberley and Kristen MacDonald
 

The Jeffrey MacDonald Information Site

ARTICLE 32 HEARING TRANSCRIPTS
August 11, 1970: Mrs. Jean Morrell

 

(Mrs. Jean Morrell was called as a witness for the defense, was sworn and testified as follows.)

Questions by MR. SEGAL:
Q Mrs. Morrell, what is your full name, please?
A Jean Modelle Morrell.
Q What is your present address, please?
A 2615 Gerard Avenue, Evanston, Illinois.
Q Do you know the accused in this case, Captain Jeffrey R. MacDonald?
A Yes, I do.
Q How long have you known Captain MacDonald?
A Since 1964.
Q Did you know the wife of Captain MacDonald, Colette MacDonald?
A Yes, I did.
Q How long did you know Mrs. MacDonald?
A Since 1964, also.
Q What were the circumstances under which you came to meet Captain and Mrs. MacDonald?
A Jeff and my husband were classmates in medical school at Northwestern University.
Q What is your husband's name?
A James Francis Morrell.
Q And is he a doctor?
A Yes, he is. He's a surgical resident.
Q Now, Mrs. Morrell, what is the extent of your relationship with Captain and Mrs. MacDonald while your husband was a classmate of Captain MacDonald's?
A We saw them socially quite often.
Q Could you indicate how often you had occasion to be with Captain and Mrs. MacDonald?
A About every week, usually, we'd go out together.
Q How long was your husband at the Northwestern Medical School?
A Four years.
Q Following the completion of four years of medical school, did the MacDonalds leave Northwestern, from the Chicago area?
A Yes, they moved to Bergenfield, New Jersey.
Q Where did you and your husband go?
A To Evanston.
Q And did you have contact with the MacDonalds thereafter?
A Yes, we did.
Q Were you still maintaining contact with the MacDonald family up to February 17th, 1970?
A Yes, sir.
Q Would you indicate for the investigating officer, based upon your observations, what was the attitude of Captain MacDonald toward his wife, Colette?
A He was a very considerate husband. I recall that lots of times he'd come home with little gifts or something to surprise Colette.
Q What was Captain MacDonald's attitude toward his children?
A He made a point of spending time with them. We'd be over frequently and he'd have Kimmie on his lap and reading to her, just quieting her down before bedtime.
Q Did you ever have occasion to see Captain MacDonald strike or deliver any blows to his children or threaten to do such?
A No.
Q How did Captain MacDonald handle problems of disciplining his children or correcting their behavior?
A He was verbally firm with his children.
Q Did he ever have occasion to shout at them or become enraged at their behavior?
A No.
Q What was Colette MacDonald's attitude toward her husband?
A She loved and respected Jeff very much.
Q What was Colette MacDonald's attitude toward her children?
A She was a very loving mother and she wasn't a token mother. She wasn't above getting down on her hands and knees and playing with them on the floor and giving them piggyback rides and things like this.
Q Did you ever see or hear Mrs. MacDonald ever threaten to strike or do any kind of bodily harm to her husband, Captain MacDonald?
A No.
Q Did you ever see Mrs. MacDonald threaten or strike the children?
A No.
Q Did -- how did Mrs. MacDonald handle the discipline and correction of the behavior of her children?
A She would speak with them and reason with them rather than command, I would say.
Q Did you ever have an occasion to her become angry or holler at her children?
A No.
Q When was the most recent time prior to February 17th, 1970, that you had any occasion to have communication from the MacDonalds?
A We received a note from them and a Christmas card in December 1969.
Q Do you have that card?
A Yes, I do.
Q Do you have it with you?
A Yes.
Q You're holding in your hand a document. Is that the Christmas card that you received from the MacDonalds?
A Yes, this is half of it.
Q Do you recognize the handwriting on the card?
A Yes, it's Colette.
Q Would you please read to the investigating officer the contents of that card?

CPT SOMERS: I object to this, unless some kind of relevance is shown.

MR. SEGAL: Well, this is with relevance to the testimony of other witnesses, that is specific expressions of the feelings, attitude of Colette MacDonald on the very questions the government has asked. The attitude toward her pregnancy, the attitude toward her husband, the attitude toward their military service, are not expressed by the words and interpretations of third parties, but we have here the original writing by Mrs. MacDonald in which she expresses her views in this matter. I could consider nothing more direct, I think, in terms of specific information, than her own words and her own writing that's available to us at this time.

COL ROCK: I assume you wish to make this an exhibit?

MR. SEGAL: Yes, sir, I will mark it as an exhibit. I do wish the witness to read it.

CPT SOMERS: The question of the handwriting --

COL ROCK: All right, proceed.

CPT BEALE: Objection is overruled.

MR. SEGAL: We would like, if we may, sir, after Mrs. Morrell finishes, to mark this exhibit and then substitute a photostatic copy so that the Morrells may keep the original. Mrs. Morrell, would you be good enough to go ahead and read the card first.

A "We're having a great, all-expense paid vacation in the Army. It looks as if Jeff will be here in North Carolina for the entire two years, which is an immense load off my mind, at least. Life has never been so normal or so happy. Jeff is home every day at five and most days even comes home for lunch. I'm taking a literature course at North Carolina State University and have to read two books a week. Consequently, I haven't written to a soul since we moved, but I do think of all you Morrells. Oh, by the way, been having such a good time lately that we're expecting a son in July. Also, in passing, the only airline which flies to Fayetteville are Piedmont, but it flies directly from Chicago. We have an extra bedroom and Jeff is off every weekend, so pick your time. We would love to see you. Any time is convenient for us. We don't have a Trader Vic's, but we could improvise." And then she signed it "Love." The last syllable is written on the other page.

MR. SEGAL: You may cross-examine. If I may, I'd like to mark that, please and request at this time to have it marked as Accused Exhibit A-33.

(Accused Exhibit A-33, Christmas card from Colette MacDonald to the Morrells, was marked.)

Questions by CPT SOMERS:
Q Mrs. Morrell, was there any other handwriting on this card?
A Yes, on the greeting side of the card was the Christmas greeting printed there and then the closing and the last syllable of improvise.
Q By closing, you mean something like, "Sincerely yours" or "love"?
A As I said before, she said, "Love, Jeff, Colette, Kimberly and Kristen."
Q How old was Kristen when the MacDonalds moved away from Illinois?
A She was just about a year.
Q And how old was Kimberly?
A Kim was four.
Q As I understand it now, you say that you saw the MacDonalds socially about once a week, during medical school. Is that correct?
A Yes, sir.
Q So that means that you've seen them well in excess of a hundred times socially?
A I would say so, yes.
Q And on each of these occasions, did you happen to see them in their home setting --
A Yes.
Q And on no occasion have you seen either parent angry or exasperated with their children?
A No.

CPT SOMERS: I have no further questions.

MR. SEGAL: Thank you, Mrs. Morrell, I have nothing further.

COL ROCK: Mrs. Morrell, you are requested not to discuss your testimony in this case with any person other than counsel for the government or counsel for the accused. Do you understand?

WITNESS: Yes, sir.

COL ROCK: You are permanently excused. Thank you.

(Mrs. Morrell withdrew from the courtroom.)

 

 

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