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

1979 JEFFREY MACDONALD CASE TRIAL TRANSCRIPT
August 2, 1979: Pamela Kalin Cochran, Former Babysitter

 

(Whereupon, PAMELA KALIN COCHRAN was called as a witness, duly sworn, and testified as follows:)


D I R E C T E X A M I N A T I O N (10:36 a.m.)

BY MR. BLACKBURN:
Q Please state your name?
A Pamela Cochran.
Q And, Mrs. Cochran, if you would speak loudly so everyone can hear you. Where do you presently live, Mrs. Cochran?
A In Palm Harbor, Florida.
Q Now, is Cochran your married name?
A Yes.
Q What was your maiden name?
A Kalin.
Q And you were the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Kalin?
A Right.
Q Now, directing your attention to the fall of 1969 and early 1970, where did you live?
A In Fort Bragg.
Q Where specifically?
A Castle Drive.
Q At what street address?
A I don't remember.
Q You don't remember? Did you know the MacDonald family?
A Yes.
Q Where did you live in relationship to their apartment?
A Next door.
Q Okay, now, when you say you lived next door, as best you can, describe the relationship of your apartment to the MacDonald apartment?
A Our living room was joined by a wall to their living room, and my bedroom was on top of their living room.
Q And how many brothers and sisters did you have?
A Two brothers living at home.
Q Your apartment was a three-bedroom apartment?
A Four.
Q Four-bedroom apartment. And each of you had a separate bedroom, is that right?
A No, my two brothers slept together.
Q Now, when did you first meet any member of the MacDonald family, as best you can recall?
A In the fall of '69, I believe.
Q Now, what were the circumstances, if you can recall, of your first meeting?
A I don't remember.
Q Okay, did you ever have an occasion to babysit for the MacDonald family at any time?
A Often.
Q When did that begin?
A Right after they moved next door.
Q You kept Kimberly and Kristen, is that right?
A Yes.
Q When you say "often," would that be as much as one time a week, or more?
A Sometimes three or four times a week.
Q When you kept them, was that in your apartment, or was that in the MacDonald apartment?
A In their apartment.
Q Now, during the time that you babysat for them -- prior to babysitting, did you have an occasion to get to know or meet Kimberly and Kristen's parents?
A Yes.
Q How would you describe, if you can, the relationship as existed between her parents during the fall of 1969?
A Just fine.
Q How did it compare with the relationship between your own parents?
A My parents were -- they fought often, very loud fights.
Q Now, directing your attention to the week preceding the 16th and 17th of February, did you have an occasion to keep the MacDonald children that week?
A Yes.
Q When was that?
A I don't remember.
Q Was that the last time you saw them?
A Yes.
Q Now, directing your attention to Monday night -- which would be, I think, the 16th of February -- what were you doing that evening?
A I was babysitting for another family.
Q Do you recall the approximate time you came home?
A About 10:30.
Q When you came home and you got out of your car or whatever to go to your apartment, did you see anybody?
A No; it was dark.
Q After you got inside your own apartment, what did you do?
A I went upstairs to my bedroom.
Q About what time, if you recall, did you go to bed that night?
A About 11:00.
Q I believe you testified that your bedroom was directly over the MacDonald living room; is that correct?
A Yes.
Q Did you have an occasion to sleep through the night that night, or can you recall?
A No; I woke up.
Q About what time?
A I don't remember.
Q The middle of the night, I guess?
A Yes.
Q What woke you up, if you know?
A A low crying voice, and then it broke into little high pitches of crying.
Q Did you hear anything else?
A No.
Q When did you next wake up?
A When the military police came knocking on their front door.
Q During the time you lived at that apartment and the MacDonalds lived next door and below, did sounds carry through the apartment from one to the other?
A Yes.
Q In other words, upstairs you could hear on occasion what was going on downstairs?
A In the living room.
Q Is it your testimony that during the night of the 16th and early morning of the 17th, the only thing you heard was crying; is that correct?
A Right.
Q You heard no indication of any disturbance?
A No.
Q Now, you spoke of the relationship between Dr. and Mrs. MacDonald during the fall of 1969. Did you have an occasion to observe their relationship after the first of the year of 1970?
A Yes.
Q How would you describe that, please?
A They didn't smile much to each other.
Q Was that a difference or a change between what you had seen before?
A Yes.
Q Now, in keeping the little children, did either one of them ever have an occasion to get out of the bed and go somewhere else, to another bed or anything like that?
A Yes.
Q Who was that?
A Kimberly most of the time, but sometimes Kris would want to sleep in her bed, or she would want Kris to sleep in her bed.
Q Okay; let's make sure I get that straight. You said Kimberly most of the time -- where would she want to go?
A In her parents' bed.
Q What about Kristen -- where would she want to go?
A In Kim's bed.
Q What would you do when that would happen?
A Sometimes I would let Kris come in the bed with Kim. I don't think Colette liked Kim to sleep in her bed very often, so I tried to talk her out of it.
Q Now, during the time that you babysat for them in the apartment, did you have an occasion to generally go throughout the apartment?
A Yes.
Q You are familiar with the utility room; is that correct?
A Yes.
Q What, if anything, did you observe with respect to the utility room?
A They had a washer and dryer, tools, and some wood.
Q Pieces of wood?
A Yeah; old scraps.
Q When you were keeping the children, did you ever have an occasion to fix them a little snack or anything like that?
A Yes.
Q You would get something out of the kitchen?
A Yes.
Q What would be something you normally might get them, if you recall?
A Spoons and forks and knives.
Q Did you ever have an occasion to get them a Popsicle, or anything like that?
A Yes.
Q In doing so, where were they kept in general -- the Popsicles?
A The freezer.
Q What, if anything, did you have to do to get the Popsicles out?
A They used to keep a lot of food in the freezer. It would always be packed, and because of it, the frost would get over the food. And I would have to, once in a while, get the ice pick to chop away the ice to get my Popsicles for the kids or food for me to eat -- the ice cream.
Q Where was this ice pick kept?
A I don't know where it was always kept. I remember reaching for it on top of the refrigerator.
Q Can you describe it?
A It was a smooth-handled ice pick in a light color.
Q Did your own parents have an ice pick?
A Yes; they did.
Q Could you describe that one?
A It had eight sides cut in the wood. It was a light purple color, and the paint was chipped.
Q In other words, the ice pick your parents had was different from the one the MacDonalds had; is that right?
A Right.

MR. BLACKBURN: Your Honor, if I may have just one moment?

(Pause.)

BY MR. BLACKBURN:
Q Mrs. Cochran, while you were in the kitchen, did you ever have an occasion to observe the telephone?
A Yes.
Q What, if anything, was kept underneath the telephone generally?
A A stool.
Q A stool?
A Uh-huh.
Q And what about the hall bathroom? Was anything, to your knowledge, ever kept under the bathroom sink?
A A little teeny ladder, so the kids could step up and brush their teeth.

MR. BLACKBURN: Your Honor, just one second.

BY MR. BLACKBURN:
Q During the time you kept the children, you never saw either parent physically strike either of the children, did you?
A No.
Q What was the attitude of the children towards the parents?
A They loved them both.
Q Did you ever have an occasion to maybe determine who was the disciplinarian, if any, of the children?
A They listened to Colette more, but that is about it.

MR. BLACKBURN: Your Honor, that completes the direct examination. The Defense may cross-examine.

THE COURT: Very well.

MR. SMITH: May we have just a moment?

(Pause.)


C R O S S - E X A M I N A T I O N 10:47 a.m.

BY MR. SMITH:
Q Mrs. Cochran, you have been interviewed on a number of occasions about this matter, haven't you?
A Yes.
Q As a matter of fact, I am sure you would not be able to tell us today how many times people have talked to you about this case, would you?
A About four times.
Q You were talked with about the case in 1970, I am sure, weren't you?
A Yes.
Q Did the CID talk with you then about it?
A I don't remember.
Q Do you remember whether the FBI talked with you about it?
A No.
Q Do you remember whether any lawyers for Dr. MacDonald talked with you about it in 1970?
A Yes.
Q How many lawyers for him talked with you? Do you remember?
A Two.
Q Did they talk with you on separate occasions?
A No.
Q They were together when they talked to you?
A Yeah.
Q Did Government lawyers talk with you about it in 1970?
A I don't remember.
Q You then only remember two lawyers talking with you in 1970 about the case, and that was Dr. MacDonald's lawyers; would that be correct?
A Yes.
Q Don't you know, though, Mrs. Cochran, that other people must have talked with you in 1970 about this case?
A There could have been.
Q You just don't remember?
A No.
Q Do you remember whether people talked with you about the case at the Article 32 proceeding?
A Yes.
Q Did you attend the Article 32 proceeding?
A Yes.
Q And you did testify at that proceeding, didn't you?
A Yes.
Q That was in 1970 also, wasn't it?
A Yes.
Q Don't you know, Mrs. Cochran, that people talked with you at that time about the case? Do you remember?
A No.
Q You just have no recollection of those conversations?
A Not that much; no.
Q Do you remember, then, that you testified before the grand jury here in Raleigh?
A Yes.
Q Didn't people talk with you about the case then?
A Yes.
Q Did lawyers for Dr. MacDonald talk with you about the case?
A No.
Q Did the Government call you or talk to you about the case?
A I don't remember.
Q Do you remember being interviewed by any Government lawyer before you testified before the grand jury?
A I was interviewed by them.
Q Before you testified?
A I don't remember before. I just remember talking with them.
Q Were you interviewed at any time during the grand jury proceedings by lawyers -- not about any specific thing but generally about the case?
A No.
Q Have you had conversations with lawyers for the Government and lawyers for Dr. MacDonald after the grand jury?
A Yes.
Q Say, within the past month or two or three?
A Yes.
Q So, the truth is, Mrs. Cochran, you have been interviewed about this case many times more than four; haven't you?
A I don't remember.
Q You have no recollection --
A (Interposing) I'm counting the first time in '70, the second time -- the grand jury -- your lawyers talked to me and their lawyers talked to me. I'm counting those four. Other than that, I really don't recollect.
Q You don't have a recollection, then, about the specific number of times that you have talked with them?
A No.
Q Do you remember whether during the grand jury proceedings you had lunch with any lawyers?
A No.
Q You did not?
A No.
Q Now, Mrs. Cochran, let me ask you to refresh your recollection and state whether or not it isn't true that in February of 1970 you were interviewed by the CID and told them that you had no recollection of ever seeing an ice pick anywhere in the MacDonald house?
A Right.
Q Do you remember that?
A No; I had no recollection of any of the weapons -- not just the ice pick.
Q You had no recollection at all on February 19, 1970, of ever seeing an ice pick in the MacDonald house?
A Right.
Q And then you were interviewed -- weren't you -- by the FBI and told them a few days after this event occurred that you had no recollection of ever seeing an ice pick in the house; do you remember that?
A No.
Q But you do remember telling the CID that you had never seen an ice pick?
A I believe they came over to our house.
Q Do you remember now talking with them?
A Yes.
Q You remember?
A Yes.
Q Now, do you remember telling any of the lawyers for Dr. MacDonald, for example, a Mr. Malley, that you had never seen an ice pick at their house?
A I don't remember.
Q But you do recall that you had said on a number of occasions that you never saw an ice pick in the house?
A Yes.
Q Now, Mrs. Cochran, do you remember testifying before the grand jury here in Raleigh -- do you remember your testimony?
A Yeah.
Q Mrs. Cochran, I ask you to listen to my reading of a part of the typed transcript of your testimony before the grand jury and ask you if it refreshes your recollection with respect to anything about the ice pick.
On page 23 of the transcript of the grand jury, I will read you the question and then read you your answer, Mrs. Cochran, and ask you if you recall it. The questioner asked you this question.
"Question: Now, how about the ice pick? Do you recognize it? Answer: No."
Is that correct?
A Yes.
Q And you stated further that you thought the MacDonalds had an ice pick; is that true?
A Yes.
Q You were shown the ice pick on that occasion and you said that you did not remember ever seeing that ice pick; didn't you?
A Right.
Q Now, it was only later -- it was later, after lunch, that you remembered seeing an ice pick; would that be correct?
A It was in the afternoon.
Q In the afternoon; now, Mrs. Cochran, let me read you a portion again of the transcript of the testimony at the grand jury and ask you if it refreshes your recollection as to the questions were asked you and the answers. I'm reading now on page 37. The questioner asked you this:
"Question: Now, it is my understanding at this point that you have some further recollection which came to you today with regard to the ice pick which I earlier asked you about in the day; is that right? Answer: Right."
You recall that?
A Yes.
Q And then the questioner said this:
"Question: Would you go ahead and state for the grand jury what that recollection is, please? Answer: I remember using the ice pick that was on top of the refrigerator to get Popsicles and ice cream out of the freezer which was always very full, and I needed to break the ice away in order to get the Popsicles out or whatever."
Do you remember making that statement?
A Yeah.
Q Now, then the questioner asked you this, I believe:
"Question: Is there anything in particular that jogged your memory about that -- about the Popsicles and the ice pick? Answer: Just -- no, I was just relaxed after being here and all of a sudden I just remembered it. I thought I recognized the ice pick but it never really occurred to me."
Is that correct?
A Yeah.
Q In other words, Mrs. Cochran, is it your testimony that you could not recall ever seeing the ice pick in the MacDonald house when you were questioned by the CID a day or two after this occurred?
A Right.
Q But you could remember when you were testifying before the grand jury four years after the event occurred; is that right?
A Right.
Q Now, during that four-year period, had anybody ever talked with you about it?
A No.
Q Is there any reason that you can think of why your recollection would be better four years after the event than it was a day or two after the event?
A Yes; because I was 16, very naive, and there were three murders right next door, and all these people around asking me questions. I was terrified. I didn't recall anything really. I just answered questions and four years later I go to the grand jury and after, like I said, I did feel relieved and I didn't have any worries next to me.
I was sitting alone waiting for them to take me upstairs or something, and I saw a chart where Mr. MacDonald had stab wounds and just something flashed across my mind -- getting the Popsicles and reaching for the ice pick.
Q How many times had you been shown that ice pick during the four years; do you remember?
A No.
Q But you were shown the ice pick back in 1970; weren't you?
A Yeah.
Q And you were 16 years old at that time?
A Yes.
Q You were in school at that time?
A Yes.
Q And, I'm sure, Mrs. Cochran, that you were relaxed many times during the four-year period prior to the time you came to the grand jury; weren't you?
A No; because I knew it wasn't settled.
Q Had you been interviewed by anyone prior to the time that you came to the grand jury?
A No.
Q Were you interviewed any time while you were living in Germany?
A They came and got hair samples and fingerprints.
Q When you were interviewed in 1970 by the CID and the FBI, was anyone with you -- any of your family members with you?
A I believe my parents were.
Q They were sitting there with you during the interview?
A Yeah.
Q Now, how many times did you babysit with the MacDonald children during January and February prior to the time this occurred?
A I believe sometimes three or four nights a week, sometimes two. It was often.
Q Did you see the MacDonalds about every day?
A No.
Q You saw them frequently, though; didn't you?
A I saw Colette more often.
Q Did you see Dr. MacDonald, or at that time Captain MacDonald, and Mrs. MacDonald together at least once or twice a week?
A I don't know once or twice -- but yes.
Q Would it be more than once or twice?
A No.
Q Would you say, then, that you would have seen them at the most during January of 1970 together five or six times or eight times?
A I don't remember.
Q Well, the truth is, Mrs. Cochran, you don't remember how often they smiled at each other; do you -- in January and February of 1970?

MR. BLACKBURN: OBJECTION.

THE COURT: I'll let her answer.

THE WITNESS: I remember a change in Colette and I remember one specific time they were dressing up. They were going out and they were dressing. She had a black dress on, and there was just no expression on either of their faces, and after that, I watched them, but I don't know how many times.

BY MR. SMITH:
Q You weren't with them very much; were you, Mrs. Cochran?
A No; just when they left and when they came back.
Q And even when you were with them, you were with them only a few minutes; weren't you?
A Right.
Q You never saw them hit each other, did you?
A No.
Q Did you ever see them hit the children?
A No.
Q As a matter of fact, don't you know that those children loved Jeff MacDonald?
A Yes; that is what I said before.
Q You could tell by the expression on their faces that they loved him, couldn't you?
A Yes.
Q You could tell by the expression on his face he loved them, couldn't you?
A Yes.
Q You have testified before other people, like the grand jury and the Article 32, that he really didn't discipline them enough, did he?
A I don't remember saying that.
Q You have said he was too easy on them, haven't you?
A No.
Q Haven't you ever testified that he was easy on the children?
A That I don't remember. I might have. And I also remember saying that he would scold them, too. I remember saying that.
Q He would scold them?
A Yes.
Q Well, he did the other things around them that a loving father ought to do, didn't he?
A Yes.

MR. SMITH: May I have just a moment, Your Honor?

(Pause.)

BY MR. SMITH:
Q Mrs. Cochran, do you remember a game that the MacDonald children played using mucilage or glue?
A No.
Q Did you ever see a game like that in their house?
A I don't remember seeing it.
Q But you did see a lot of games in their house and other things that the children played with, didn't you?
A No.
Q Do you remember a bookcase and books for the children -- games for the children?
A No.
Q Were there games for the children and books for the children?
A There was a lot of toys in Kimberly's room -- both rooms -- bedrooms.
Q Do you remember books for the children?
A No.
Q Do you remember the pony?
A Yes.
Q Do you remember when they got the pony?
A Around Christmas.
Q Did you ever go with them to feed the pony?
A Yes.
Q Did you ever go with Dr. MacDonald and the children to feed the pony?
A No.
Q But you did go with them to feed the pony from time to time?
A With Mr. MacDonald.
Q With whom?
A Mr. MacDonald.
Q Colette or Mr. MacDonald?
A Mr. MacDonald.
Q You went with him -- Dr. MacDonald?
A Yes.
Q When you went with Dr. MacDonald to feed the pony, did the children go?
A No.
Q You went alone with Dr. MacDonald?
A I went with my younger brother and my sister.
Q Do you know that Dr. MacDonald would take the children from time to time to feed the pony?
A I don't remember that. It was before Kimberly got the horse.
Q All right; so you went with him to feed the pony before it was given to the children?
A Yes.
Q As a surprise? (Witness nods affirmatively.)

MR. SMITH: No further questions.

MR. BLACKBURN: Just a very few, Your Honor.


R E D I R E C T E X A M I N A T I O N 11:03 a.m.

BY MR. BLACKBURN:
Q Mrs. Cochran, with respect to the ice pick, I think you stated that in 1974 at the grand jury, you stated you could not identify it; is that correct?
A Right.
Q At this time, reading from page 39 of that grand jury testimony, I would like to read the following questions and answers:
"...Question: Now, do you have any further recollection about being able to identify this particular ice pick? Answer: The color. Question: The color? Answer: The light color of it. Question: All right, now; so I take it you cannot say that this was the ice pick, but was it an ice pick like this one in color, shape and design? Answer: Yes. Question: That was in the house? Answer: (Nods affirmatively)."
Do you recall that as your grand jury testimony?
A Yes.
Q Now, do you recall, with respect to the times you kept the children after the first of the year, did you still do that on a fairly regular basis?
A Yes; and I want to clear up something. I may not have seen them together. That is why I noticed something. That is, they used to go out a lot together, and they didn't then. I would only see Colette most of the time.

MR. BLACKBURN: No further questions.

MR. SMITH: No questions.

THE COURT: Call your next witness.

(Witness excused.)

 

 

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