Circa 1997: A note written with a request to send the sample letter enclosed to their friend who is a State Representative in support of Jeffrey MacDonald
Note from Christina Masewicz: I have redacted the name of the person to whom it was sent and the person who wrote it per their request.
(Spelling, punctuation and grammar preserved)
This is a sample of a letter outlining the case that you might be able to give to your friend, Rep. **** Both Jeffrey and I realize it is very long. However, if you need us to shorten it somewhat, please let me know and I will excise a few items. It is a daunting task to outline the last 30 years and 18 years of incarceration in just a few paragraphs. In any case, we are greatly appreciative of ANY efforts you might make on our behalf. Jeffrey now is at his last chance – the dna testing. It is horrendous to consider that for lack of funds he could languish in prison for the rest of his life. (He will not ever stand before a parole board, and has refused every opportunity to do so for years. He wants justice, not mercy, from our system.) Thanks so very much, ****,
Suggested Letter Format
I hope this finds you well, flourishing, and feeling good about the excellent job you are doing in Washington. I am writing to you at this time to detail my concerns on an issue important to me, and to many persons in the Long Beach Community. Dr. Jeffrey R. MacDonald, former Director of Emergency Medicine at St. Mary Medical Center, is currently in federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon serving three consecutive life sentences. As you undoubtedly know, he was convicted (at a much publicized trial in 1979) of the murders of his wife and two daughters at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, where then Captain MacDonald was a Group Surgeon for the U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets). My concern centers on the justice, or lack thereof, in this case. Please bear with me.
It appears to a growing number of people, some of them esteemed experts in criminal justice matters, and many of them experts in forensic criminology, that, at best, Dr. MacDonald never received a fair trial, and at worst, he is wrongfully convicted, i.e., he is factually innocent. If the latter is true, I'm sure you share my feelings that a tragedy of untold proportions has occurred. Every day, I read about cases, even some from the death rows of our growing prison population, where the prosecution has finally admitted an error and someone wrongfully convicted is set free - yet in Dr. MacDonald's case, both the prosecution and the FBI lab seem remarkably resistant to a second look at the facts in this case. Dr. MacDonald's well-chronicled claims of innocence are one thing; what disturbs me so much is that his claims have been corroborated to an astonishing degree of detail, and yet our system of justice seems blind to his struggle to be heard. It is almost as if his former status (well-respected physician) precludes the usual breast-beating from everyone when a wrongful conviction is uncovered.
I would like to carefully point out that the majority of Dr. MacDonald's claims of "new evidence" come not from defense team sources, but rather from government documents long suppressed, and only reluctantly released via Freedom of Information Act (F.O.I.A.) from 1983-1997. That is - the government seems very resistant to revisiting a case wherein the evidence from its own investigating corroborates Dr. MacDonald's memory and testimony about the events of 17 Feb. 1970. (Why it took the government all these years to release these F.O.I.A. documents is another matter.)
Space limitations preclude me from listing all of the new information. Suffice to say it turns out that Dr. MacDonald gave arriving MPs a description of multiple assailants, including a woman in a floppy hat.
Today, facts (mainly from government sources) indicate those people existed, they were known to the Army CID and Fayetteville Police, several were drug informants for those same police and CID, they were violence prone, they were seen going to and coming from the MacDonald home that night, and several of them admitted their guilt to third parties(!). Now, from 1990-1998, more evidence has surfaced of a forensic nature that ties this group to the commission of the crimes. Yet, as of today, Dr. MacDonald still cannot get a court hearing, and the government still is refusing to turn over blood and hair exhibits for DNA testing, as ordered by Federal Court in October 1997. What is going on here? As a concerned and outraged citizen, I must ask how can this happen in America? What is the problem with the Dept. of Justice agreeing to a second look at the evidence in this case?
One specific (see attached Wall St. Journal article for details): In 1990, Dr. MacDonald filed an appeal based on information that indicates the government lab found, labeled and then suppressed, synthetic long 22" and 24" long Saran wig fibers - now thought to be from the woman assailant's wig (one Helena Stoeckley, daughter of retired Lt. Col.). Dr. MacDonald lost that appeal specifically based on the testimony of FBI lab agent Michael Malone - which testimony now clearly seems to have been contrived (at best) and probably perjurious (at worst). Yet, Michael Malone is still working for the FBI (although not in the lab). What is wrong with this picture?
Let me briefly bring you up to date on the over-all posture of the case. One year ago, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, in Richmond, Virginia, ordered DNA testing on the biologic exhibits, (in response to a defense request to do so). As of today, one year later, the FBI lab and prosecution have not even released a single exhibit to the defense for testing; rather, they have chosen to refuse to share the exhibits, and force Dr. MacDonald back to federal court to enforce the court order already mandated one year ago. I do not get it. Is this what we are paying taxes for? For out-of-control prosecutors to play games with crucial evidence in (obviously) badly handled cases? When do the prosecution and Dept. of Justice become responsible to the citizens of the United States, and not just their own agenda?
Surely, our representative in Washington can look into this matter?
Obviously, then, one question I am asking you is: if the Dept. of Justice is secure in their oft-stated belief that the facts prove Dr. MacDonald murdered his family, why are they so obstinately opposed to a neutral scientific look at DNA exhibits in the case? Why is it that we read of DNA reversing cases almost daily now, yet Dr. MacDonald, even with a court order, can't win access to the exhibits?
My other question has to do with the FBI lab. My information is that, despite the Inspector General's report of April 1997 excoriating both the FBI lab in general, and Special Agent Michael Malone in particular, (in the Alcee Hastings case), and despite the April 1997 Wall St. Journal article on Michael Malone's actions in the MacDonald case, allegedly Malone is still working for the FBI, i.e., U.S. taxpayers. How can this be so? Whatever happened to accountability?
In looking into this case, I have discovered that several persons in congress are trying to do what is right, specifically Senator Charles Grassley (R - Iowa) and Congressman Robert Wexler (D - Florida).
They have both spoken out vigorously in the FBI lab scandal, and have even brought up Dr. MacDonald's case. Also, it is my opinion that Rep. Henry Hyde (R - Illinois) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R - Utah), the chairmen (respectively) of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, are both men who believe that justice should occur in all cases. Is there any way you can interface with these persons in an attempt to bring to us a reasonable conclusion in the MacDonald case? The thought of being wrongly in prison for 17 years is simply mind numbing. It is time to speak out, seek a second review of the facts in this case, and reach a solid conclusion based on real evidence once and for all. "Justice delayed is justice denied" I believe is the saying. More over, as I indicated above, the details of this case are truly shocking.
Lastly, let me detail for you some more personal aspects of this case. Dr. MacDonald was a scholarship student at Princeton University, and he won early (3rd year) admission to medical school, where he ranked in the top 10% of his class. He volunteered for the U.S. Army at the height of the Vietnam conflict, (although he never served in Vietnam). He volunteered for the U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets), and became a paratrooper and Group Surgeon on Ft. Bragg. After the events of 1970, he was honorably discharged and began practicing emergency medicine at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach. He eventually became Director of Emergency Medicine there, and also directed the well-respected Long Beach Firemen-Paramedic Rescue System. He was also Medical Director of the Long Beach and Las Vegas Grand Prix Road Races, and worked tirelessly in many charities in the Long Beach area. He also became president of the Long Beach Heart Association and was active in too many social and philanthropic events to list.
My point here, ****, is that Dr. MacDonald is not your next Willie Horton. His record pre-1970 and post-1970 is entirely unblemished, even brilliant. I am familiar with the massive number of legitimate, pre-trial psychiatric evaluations made of Dr. MacDonald by both the defense and the prosecution; 5 in number, all of which were favorable, but all of which were disallowed as testimony in his 1979 trial.
This man does not have any history of violence, and he was seen daily in literally thousands of situations of extreme stress - and the picture painted by the prosecution is simply wrong.
I came to know Dr. MacDonald on a social, professional and philanthropic basis in the 1970's - You might be aware he and I are the two original Lifetime Honorary Members of the Long Beach Police Officers Benevolent Association. His award had to do with life-saving actions involving Long Beach police officers, some actions that were outside his normal emergency duties at St. Mary Medical Center. Dr. MacDonald had a teaching appointment at UCLA; he also taught at USC, and taught frequently at CSU Long Beach. He has a multitude of friends and supporters in our community. Perhaps we have been too silent as the years passed by, but I can no longer remain silent. My own view is that the defense case seems much stronger than the prosecution case. Additionally, we are faced with actions on the prosecution side that clearly border on illegal, if not just unethical. Dr. MacDonald seems to have not had our country's normal dose of "due process".
I would personally like to urge you to acquaint yourself with the details of this agonizing case. Once you do, I assure you, you will not sleep as well as you did before learning the truth of the case. Let's not be guilty of remaining silent, when all Dr. MacDonald is asking for is a neutral review of the evidence in the case. In the interest of justice, we should all be interested in such a case review.
Thank you in advance for your time, and any efforts you can expend on this situation would be greatly appreciated.
With warm personal regards,