OCTOBER 6, 2012
Wilmington, North Carolina is beautiful place surrounded by water and natural beauty. The federal court house is old, but the architecture is truly a thing of beauty. The steps and large fountain on one side of the building is where Matlock was filmed. Wilmington has something for everyone, from ghost walks to taking a ride in a horse and buggy.
Every morning we left the hotel at 7:30 sharp. Court did not start until 9 am with the exception of once when Judge Fox had other business to attend to, court started at 10 am. The attorneys had their work to do prior to the start of court. While waiting for court to commence, we spent our time in the grand jury room. The witnesses were not allowed to be in the courtroom until after they testified. At 8:45 am, Bob and I entered the court room and sat directly behind the prosecution. I was honored to meet and sit with Thomas Walker, the US Attorney.
MacDonald was escorted into the court room by FBI and Marshals. He was not dressed in a three-piece suit carrying a brief case, tan, looking more like an attorney than a defendant like in 1979. He was dressed in a designer prison beige jump suit with a white tee shirt under it with sleeves that came to his elbows. I call it the layering effect. He wore white socks with shower shoes and his legs were chained. He was not cocky as he had been in 1979. He appeared small, meek and out of place. As always he came with a folder in hand. His hair is completely white now and he sported a prison haircut. You know the kind that is up to the top of the ears in the back. His coloring is pallor. He sat in the end seat by his new attorney, Keith Williams with the FBI and Marshals in reach of him at all times. On one occasion, the Marshal had to step in front of Kathryn as she was getting too close to MacDonald.
In many ways I saw some of the same mannerisms in Gordon Widenhouse as I saw in Bernie Segal. He has curly hair, but short. A full short beard, he is loud, condescending and suffering from the little man syndrome. When he talks, he waves his hands around and moves his head in a most unusual way. I do believe he could not talk if he could not use his hands to make constant movements. He likes to argue with the witnesses.
Kathryn arrived each day to be surrounded by the reporters in the court room. She is thin, but her face was noticeably swollen. And she sports the same haircut as her husband. I must admit she looked better than she did at the last 4th COA. She sat on the defense side, always on third row from the front.
I was not impressed with the media whatsoever. Most of them were independent contractors trying to get a story to sell. Some seemed serious about what they were doing and some seemed bored and were reading a book.
There are many things that I will be sharing as time allows. For now I am going to touch on a few things. The issue came up, why didn't Helena have an attorney prior to her testifying? That point was brought up at the trial in 1979 prior to her testimony. On August 17, 1979, after Helena was called to testify, while waiting for her to be brought into the courtroom, a bench conference was requested by Jim Blackburn. The following is from that bench conference.
MR. BLACKBURN: This is the one, of course, we all talked to yesterday. I remember you talking about a voir dire. I know that Wade mentioned this morning that she had commented on the necessity of wanting an attorney. I just wanted to be sure, before we got started, how we are going to go.
MR. SMITH: I think our position, Judge--of course, we will do whatever Your Honor wishes to do--but I feel that we will just go ahead with her, if we can, and see what happens.
MR. BLACKBURN: I think that is fine.
THE COURT: Well, let's go.
(Bench conference terminated.)
If indeed Helena requested an attorney, the defense should have provided one for her. On the other hand when Judge Dupree received a call from Helena stating she was afraid of Bernie Segal and wanted an attorney, Judge Dupree had little choice except to make sure one was provided to her.
Jerry Leonard was appointed as the attorney for Helena Stoeckley. Leonard claims that he baby-sat Stoeckley and made sure she was available and in court every day should she be recalled to testify a second time.
Leonard stated that the first night he took her to his house because she had nowhere to stay and that he secured a place for her to stay the next day. That is not true. Stoeckley was already being housed in a motel.
Leonard did not spend all the time with Stoeckley. He secured Kay Reibold for the purposes of acting as a companion and friend to her. Ms. Reibold spent time with Stoeckley to and from her motel room and in the witness room at the courthouse.
Leonard stated that first Stoeckley denied anything to do with the murders, and then later said "what would you do if I told you I was there." According to Leonard, he told her "I would still represent you." Leonard stated that he found Stoeckley to be intelligent and she was able to carry on a normal conversation. Knew how to keep the conversation going and asked normal reasonable questions.
Leonard kept that information to himself and said nothing about it. Of course the fact that Stoeckley said she was there to him means nothing, as she had a long history of confessing and recanting and re confessing. According to Ms. Reibold, Leonard gave her permission to tell Wade Smith what Stoeckley told her. And Ms. Reibold discussed with Leonard what Stoeckley told her.
When Leonard was called into the courtroom, he was accompanied by two attorneys representing him. Leonard's affidavit was what was filed under seal initially, and the defense and Leonard's own lawyers did not want to see him cross examined.
Judge Fox ruled that exceptional circumstances trumped the privilege, and more importantly John Bruce overcame the combined defense and Leonard's position that his affidavit come in and that he not be subjected to cross examination.
Leonard has had his own personal problems over the years long after the 1979 trial. It can be surmised that the defense as well as Leonard and his attorneys were afraid that the government would introduce into evidence Leonard's past as the defense has long done with the past problems of Jim Blackburn. It is my belief that the defense was afraid the government would delve into Leonard's past. The government had the decency not to as they are fully aware, what he did after the fact has nothing to do with the issue at hand.
Leonard acted as if he had memory problems and did not appear to me to be a creditable witness. He stuttered with his answers. He gave wrong information stating Helena was not allowed to testify in the presence of the jury. It appeared to me that the man is in need of medical care.
What happens in one's life after the fact should have nothing to do with anything, but the defense is blood thirsty and wanted to belittle, harass and embarrass Blackburn. When Blackburn was called to testify, the government touched on all bases of what he had done. Blackburn admitted his mistakes and took full responsibility for what he had done. The defense hammered hard at Blackburn, but they were unable to break him down. He took the witness stand with his dignity and left the witness stand with his dignity still intact.
Wade Smith gave wrong information as well, stating that the hobby horse was in the living room as opposed to being in Kristen's bedroom, and pieces of rubber gloves were found on the kitchen floor as opposed to in the master bedroom. He did little to help the defense and said out right that Helena gave the defense nothing that could help them at all. A great deal of questions was put to him, his answers were, "I don't remember."
This brings me back to 1979 when his memory was excellent. It is my opinion that Smith knew Segal was lying to Judge Dupree when Segal stated "At this time, Your Honor, I ask for leave of Court to take this witness as on cross, because she is a surprise and hostile witness.
"I represent to the Court that during the interviews with me and with other persons present she stated that when she looked at the picture she had a recollection of standing over a body holding a candle, seeing a man's body on the floor.
"I also may say, Your Honor, we are now down to the bottom five or six critical things that she revealed yesterday. I have a feeling, based upon her answer to this one now, that when and if I ask her in direct fashion, that I may get negative answers.
"I had no anticipation of that, because yesterday throughout the time that she made these statements, we accepted them, did not expect contrary.
"We have not had any different statements from her and we feel that we are entitled to the plea of surprise as well as the fact; I think, at this point--the extent of her hostile relationship not in terms of manner but the hostility of her interest to the Defendant.
"I am going to tell Your Honor the other things that she has said. Would that be appropriate now to expedite, or should we do it one at a time?"
THE COURT: Well, if it will save any trips up here maybe you should tell us now.
MR. SEGAL: She has already actually said something, and I did not want to raise a surprise question. I want to do it all at one time. The photograph that I showed her of the bedroom of Kristen MacDonald: during the interview yesterday, she stated that she remembered riding the rocking horse when she looked at that picture.
She also stated yesterday she remembered standing at the end of the sofa holding a candle. She also said when she saw the body of Kristen MacDonald--the one when she was clothed, with the baby bottle--that that picture looked familiar to her.
That scene looked familiar. She also said when she was shown the photograph of Colette MacDonald--the same one I showed her today--that she said that the face in that picture looked familiar, except that the chin was broken and made it a little hard.
She also stated--and I'm going to get to it--she's gotten to the point where she does not sound like she is going to cooperate further--that she was standing of the corner of Honeycutt across from Melonee Village.
She has a recollection of standing there during the early morning hours of February 17th, 1970. She further stated yesterday, and I intend to ask her now, that she has a recollection of standing outside the house looking at her hands and saying, "My God, the blood; oh my God, the blood."
She said that took place February 17, 1970. There are witnesses to each of these things. I must say, Your Honor, there were persons present the entire time this took place.
I intend to now ask her directly each of these questions. If she refuses or denies her statements I ask for leave to confront her:
"Did you not say that yesterday when you were confronted with these photos?"
If she persists in denying it we will of course impeach her as we have the right to impeach her under the rules. Although we have called her as a witness, there are rules that permit that to be done.
When I am done with that I intend to turn her over for cross-examination.
MR. BLACKBURN: Of course, I was not there when she talked with the Defense yesterday, but in her interview with the Government none of those statements were made. She specifically told us--
THE COURT: (Interposing) Did you ask her any?
MR. BLACKBURN: Yes, sir. She specifically told us that she had been shown the photographs and we asked her, "Did you recognize any of the scenes in those photographs?"
The answer was no. I asked her, "Have you ever been in that house?" She said no. I said, "Do you know anything about that?" "No." "Who do you think did it?" "Dr. MacDonald." You know, it just went one right after the other.
I discussed--I told Mr. Smith last night what she told us. I was under the impression to this very moment that what she told us was essentially what she told them.
It is difficult for me--you know--I am not saying that they are not saying what she said. I just don't know which way it is, because she has not indicated anything to the Government.
My question is, who were these people who heard these things that Segal claims Helena told him? Wade Smith was there and has said she gave them nothing that would help their case.
Wendy Rouder was asked at the hearing if she was present during the questioning. She replied no, further stating she felt left out and would liked to have been there.
Joe McGinniss was there and stated none of what Segal told Judge Dupree occurred and that Helena said none of the things Segal said she did.
Although the records show, that during the interview of Stoeckley, a member of the defense took notes, the defense has yet to present these notes or any other evidence in support to establish what occurred during the interview or to contradict defense attorney Wade Smith's admission at trial that she had no recollection of participating in the murders of the MacDonald family or dispute what McGinniss said occurred.
Judge Dupree questioned Stoeckley, asking Ms. Stoeckley, how long did you spend yesterday talking to Defense counsel in this case--Mr. Segal, Mr. Smith, and others?
THE WITNESS: About three and a half to four hours.
THE COURT: Did you thereafter talk to the Government's attorneys?
THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Had you ever seen them and talked to them before?
THE WITNESS: No, sir. One member I had before.
THE COURT: Now, did you tell both sides the same story?
THE WITNESS: As far as I know, yes, sir.
THE COURT: All right, that was the question I was going to ask.
The way things were presented in the court room now is different. Both sides have monitors. Near the prosecution, a man sits feeding all of their exhibits into the monitors as called. Each prosecutor has a monitor as does each defense attorney. The defense attorney (Keith Williams) was in charge of loading their own things. The judge has a monitor that he reads from. There is a monitor on the witness stand that each witness can read from when asked if they remember that document or to read something from a document aloud in court. There was no jury present, but when they are present, there are monitors in their areas as well, one monitor for every two jurors. The government clearly stated each time what the exhibit number was that was being brought forth. The defense did not and finally John Bruce stood up and said Your Honor, we are at a lost since the defense is not telling us what their exhibit numbers are. That was corrected immediately.
The first sign of MacDonald showing any emotion and agitation I noticed was when Bill Ivory was called to the witness stand. He was restless in his seat, constantly writing down things on a note pad. Since Bob and I were directly behind the prosecution, we could see what was displayed on the monitors. Brian had warned Bob what was to come so he would not look at the crime scene pictures. One by one the pictures were shown with Ivory describing what it represented. Bob broke down just listening to the description. MacDonald sat there and looked at each one of those pictures with no expression whatsoever. The defense was hard on Ivory. He now has severe hearing loss and wears bilateral hearing aids. The government spoke loudly into their microphone to aid his hearing of the questions. The court provided an extra device to aid his hearing as well. Even then he did on occasions have to ask that the question be repeated. The defense was not thoughtful and didn't seem to care and exhibited some disdain that they had to repeat the questions at times. Finally Judge Fox called the attorneys to the bench and put a stop to that arrogance.
While Judge Fox is a true southern gentleman, he is different from Judge Dupree. Whereas, Judge Dupree would lean back in his chair with his eyes closed and his glasses on the end of his nose as if he was sleeping. Judge Fox is a people watcher and he was watching MacDonald during the display of the crime scene pictures.
When Joe McGinniss was called, MacDonald's agitation level increased. His face was red. Truly he was not a happy camper. McGinniss was great, he said it like it was and pulled no punches about his dealings with MacDonald. He told of finding MacDonald's notes on his last day at his condo and his shock at the first item listed was about the possibility he had taken a diet pill. Hard as the defense tried they could not get McGinniss to lose his cool. In the end the defense's bullying backfired on them.
This brings me to another issue. Some time back I had put MacDonald's handwritten notes of what he wrote that occurred the night of February 16, 1979 as well as his notes regarding going to Russia on my website. I was criticized and told I had no right to use those notes and that I was violating copyright laws by doing so. The fact of the matter is some of those notes were used in Fatal Vision. The most important thing was that they had already been introduced into evidence long ago in court.
Gene Stoeckley appeared to have a lot of anger because of what had happened in his life. He told of the way he had been treated at school, made fun of and picked on because of what his sister had supposedly done. He was 10 years old at the time of the murders and said he and Helena had always been close. He said she visited their parents on the night of February 16, 1970 because it was his birthday and she never missed his birthday or failed to bring him a present. He said his father never allowed the possibly that Helena was in anyway involved in the MacDonald murders to be talked about in the house as long as he was alive. It was apparent he loved his mother and hated his sister for what he went through. He said the last time he saw Helena was in the fall prior to her death. He said she looked good and had gained weight. She had come home for a visit to show her baby to her family. He stated he was also there, but he left because he didn't want anything to do with her. He was emotional when he spoke of his mother and that it was he and his wife who mostly took care of her needs.
Mr. Stoeckley denied that his mother was coerced in any way as to her affidavit. That she was alert and he read it to her, she agreed it was what she wanted to say.
Laura Redd was the notary Hart Miles brought with him to notarize the Ms. Stoeckley senior affidavit. She stated she was a part time paralegal for Mr. Miles. When questioned, she stated that when she arrived, Kathryn MacDonald was working on the affidavit. Then that the two of them worked on it. That there was a problem because they could not print it out and had to wait for someone to open the business office so they could finish it and print it and that is why it came out the way it did. When asked what program they were using, she didn't know. When asked about Ms. Stoeckley's alertness level, she stated she was alert and orientated and a delightful person. There was something strange about Ms. Redd in the respect that her behavior was not appropriate. She appeared nervous, which is normal, but the fact that she would laugh for no reason was not.
Sara McMann testified that she and her husband had tried to help Helena and her baby son David. That Helena had lived with them for a while. That Helena had admitted to her that she was present during the attack on MacDonald and the murders of his family. It was her belief that Helena was telling the truth. Ms. McMann stated Helena asked her to take care of her baby if something should happen to her. That when Helena moved out of her home to an apartment when she died a short time later, that she found several empty vodka bottles. She was of the opinion that Helena had problems sleeping at night and would drink in order to sleep. Right in the middle of testifying she said in a sobbing sounding voice, I believe Jeffrey MacDonald is innocent. She also said that she and her husband raised Helena's son, that he is married and has a son of his own.
As to the Britt issue, many things came out about that. Britt gave several affidavits. Each one was different. In one he said he picked up Stoeckley in Charleston, South Carolina. In another one he said he picked her up in Greenville, South Carolina and that he allowed her boyfriend to ride back with them.
It came out that Britt got angry over the fact that a juror brought in a cake for Judge Dupree and he was reduced to the level of having to deliver it to him. Perhaps his anger was due to the fact that he was not given any.
When his first wife, Mary Wood Britt testified, she told of many things that she claims Britt told her. It was her opinion that Britt believed MacDonald was innocent. One in particular was strange. She said on the day MacDonald was sentenced, Britt came home early and was very upset. She said Britt told her his supervisor had ordered him to cuff MacDonald and remove him from the courtroom and that he refused telling him he was not going to do their dirty work anymore. His supervisor denied that when he testified. Ms. Britt also made the statement that there was constant adultery during their marriage. They were married July 30, 1957 and divorced February 1989; it would take a court order in 1991 for her to get what she was entitled to.
Britt's superiors did not have good things to say about him. One told of a time when Britt and another Marshal came to blows over a woman named Nancy Williams who worked in the Marshal's office. He also told of the instance when Britt retired. That he had called him into his office to discuss his retirement party. There were several ways that they did the parties and he wanted Britt to decide which he would like. Britt told him he did not want a party. His boss was out of town, and the day before his retirement, Britt started calling people telling them to come to his party. When his boss was notified, he said absolutely not. He was given his chance and he refused it. The following day after his retirement he was admitted into an alcohol rehab center.
After Britt's divorce he married Nancy Williams. They would later divorce in Las Vegas, but they remained together until his death. And these few things are just the tip of the ice berg about Jimmy Britt that I found out.
After both sides had completed their case, Judge Fox asked how much time each side wanted to present their closing summaries. The government requested three hours. Mr. Widenhouse stated not nearly that amount of time your honor, maybe one and a half hours. Judge Fox said well, you both have three hours, to which Mr. Widenhouse replied, you won't hold it against me if I do not use all the time.
The government covered everything. Murtagh went through the DNA and he had an answer for everything the defense had mentioned and more, including exhibits.
John Bruce covered the Britt issue.
Mr. Widenhouse stated at the end that he believed the defense had proven their issues as to the Britt and DNA and that Dr. MacDonald should receive a new trial.
It is my opinion that the defense did not put on a strong case. Their whole issue has been they wanted the evidence as whole presented to the court. But where was that evidence as a whole? They only addressed the Britt issue and the DNA basically.
I can understand why Judge Fox might be confused, as he said I didn't try this case and I don't know what the evidence as whole is. He touched on the issue of reading the trial transcripts saying it would take him better than six months to do so and he considered that an impossibility. Referring to the 4th COA remanding it back to him, he said I am borrowing what a friend of mine use to say, I was not wrong, the 4th COA just didn't agree with me.
Because this was a civil hearing, Judge Fox could order that each side file briefs with the court, and that is what he did. It will take 60 days for the transcripts to be ready. His order was that the defense files its brief 60 days after they obtained the transcripts and that the government file their brief 60 days after the defense.
On the first day of the hearing there was Errol Morris in his trademark tennis shoes. During the break, I saw my chance to speak with him. I made sure I had a witness and went to him and said hello Errol, I am Christina Masewicz. He reached out his hand to shake mine and grinned saying hello. I let him have it, telling him he had lied to me. Ending with I would much rather have a shrine to innocent victims than advocate for a triple convicted murderer. I said much more, but will leave it at that. His mouth was open, but not a word came out after he said hello. He remained in the court through Thursday and then he was gone. He spent quite a bit of time taking notes and talking to Kathryn.
I had been biding my time and waiting for the right time to approach Kathryn. There are some people that just cannot be trusted and that you just have to tape your conversation or have a witness to it. I was talking to a friend, when Kathryn came over to me sticking out her hand to shake mine and said "hello Christina." I said hello Kathryn, why is Jay not here? She said what do you mean? I said Kathryn; you know Jay wanted to come. He called you asking for some of his money from the trust so he could come. He asked you if you were coming and you lied to him telling him only if you were subpoenaed. Well, here you are in the courtroom every day, so we know you weren't subpoenaed. She said "my family business is none of your business, I only wanted to say hello." I said yes, but Kathryn I know you are stealing from Jay. I carried with me a copy of the new trust and took it out and held it up to her. I said this is the trust Kathryn, and you are violating the terms of it. She got very pale and just walked away. There was a man with her during this time and when she walked away he said hello, I'm Rick Thoesen. I said hello, I know who you are. We exchanged some small talk, as where his wife Judy was and he said she was baby-sitting their grandchild. No talk about Kathryn or MacDonald and then he said goodbye. He was pleasant and appeared to be a decent type of person.
Below is one page of the new family trust that MacDonald and Kathryn setup when they terminated Dorothy's family trust.
They are not enriching Jay's life to make his life more enjoyable, such as vacations or family visits. His truck is over 20 years old. They do not even have the time to call or check on his well-being. It is not right that MacDonald and his wife prevent Jay from benefiting from what is rightfully his. His mother left provisions for Jay and some of the money came from the sale of his apartment and an additional $15,000.00 that he inherited from another source which he put into the trust his mother arranged thinking it was safe and he would have access to it when he needed it. Hell, they keep it a secret from him the amount that is there which is not right. I want to know why and I will not stop until I do. Are they waiting for him to die so they can have it all? What kind of people do this kind of thing? Should the time come that Jay ask for my help, you can bet I will be there to stand beside him.
Since Judy passed, Jay is alone. Altho he has a lot of friends, he has no close family nearby. Jay had to be taken by ambulance to hospital and had surgery October 5. I ask that you please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.
Please also keep my son-in-law who has been diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer in your thoughts and prayers.