1979 JEFFREY MACDONALD CASE TRIAL TRANSCRIPT
August 22, 1979: Dorothy MacDonald
F U R T H E R P R O C E E D I N G S 9:30 a.m.
THIS CAUSE came on for further trial before The Honorable Franklin T. Dupree, Jr., United States Chief District Judge, and a jury, on Wednesday, August 22, 1979, at Raleigh, North Carolina.
(The following proceedings were held in the presence of the jury.)
THE COURT: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Were there further questions of the witness on the stand yesterday afternoon?
MR. SMITH: There are additional questions.
THE COURT: Let her come back then, please.
(Whereupon, DOROTHY MacDONALD, the witness on the stand at the time of recess, resumed the stand and testified further as follows:)
D I R E C T E X A M I N A T I O N 9:33 a.m. (resumed)
BY MR. SMITH:
Q Mrs. MacDonald, I believe when we stopped for the day yesterday, I had asked you a question about the time that Colette came to live with you in Patchogue after your son had gone to Fort Bragg to serve in the military, so let's begin there. How long did Colette remain with you in Patchogue after Jeff had gone into the military?
A Approximately one month.
Q And during that period of time, I believe you indicated yesterday she lived in a small residence near you?
A That is correct.
Q How close was it?
A Right next door.
Q Would you let the jury know something about a typical day there? Did you see her frequently during the day?
A Oh, yes; absolutely. We ate together, you know, frequently. I must say, at this time my mother was now ill and I was going to her in the hospital. She was having a pacemaker inserted, so it was a question of -- my schedule was quite heavy at the time, you know, in caring for my mother. But I would see Colette and the children every day.
Q If you would move just a little closer to the microphone, please? Did you have a close relationship with Colette at that time?
A Yes, sir.
Q Do you feel that you knew her well?
A I felt I knew her very well.
Q Was Colette an open person?
A Yes; I would say that she was an open person. I think that she would share her feelings. Certainly we had many conversations. It seemed like we were just two women getting along, and she understood that I was under some pressure now, with my mother's -- you know -- care and so forth. But it was a very warm and, you know, good relationship.
Q Were you ever an interfering mother-in-law?
A I hope not.
Q Did you ever, as far as you recall, interfere in their lives and try to direct their lives?
A I really don't perceive myself as an interfering person. It is very hard to judge how one seems to other people, but I would hope that I was a caring or nurturing person. That was all. I loved Colette and we never had serious disagreements of any kind. I just enjoyed being in her company and I feel that she enjoyed being in mine.
Q You have mentioned that you loved Colette. Do you feel that she loved you?
A Yes; I feel that she loved me, sir.
Q Mrs. MacDonald, would it be fair to say that in some ways you had a mother-daughter relationship with Colette?
A I would say that you could qualify it as that. Naturally, I am her mother-in-law, but I feel as though we related very well.
Q How did you relate to Kim and Kris?
A I would say the same way -- very spontaneous. I remember one time going over on the ferry, and I had Kimberley in my arms. And there was a big wave, and the boat sort of rocked. Kim just threw her arms tight around me and said, "I love you, Nana." I mean, it was the reaction of being a little scared.
I would say that we played together. I certainly cared for them. I had them one time -- Jeff felt that Colette really was entitled to a vacation, and he took her on a trip to the Virgin Islands. And the children -- I mean, not the children -- Kim came to stay with me. Colette was pregnant at that time, and they went and had a fine vacation.
So I feel I got to know her, as I said yesterday, better than Kristen, but I knew them both and I loved them both, and enjoyed them thoroughly.
Q When Jeff called -- as you testified, I believe, yesterday -- to indicate that he and the family could be reunited, do you recall Colette's reaction to that?
A Absolute ecstasy; I mean tears flowed down her face, and she said, "It is marvelous -- marvelous." She was actually very happy to be reunited.
Q Would you tell us again about what month that was?
A That would have been in the latter part of August, I believe, sir -- or the middle of August. I am really not sure of the exact date.
Q All right; at any rate, she moved with the children, didn't she?
A Yes, sir.
Q What month did she move?
A In September.
Q You did not have a personal visit with them again, then, until Thanksgiving, I believe you have said; is that correct?
A That is true.
Q When you went down to visit them at Fort Bragg on Thanksgiving, did you observe, Mrs. MacDonald, any change in Colette or any change in Jeff?
A I cannot say anything, except that they seemed radiantly happy, because Colette felt that this was the first time they had a real house of their own. She actually had written to us and to my friends stating that she felt safer, happier. The income now was more comfortable. There was, in a sense, no more financial struggle; that they had neighbors. The children had children to play with.
She felt protected being on the Army post. I would say that she was absolutely happy about -- for the first time, instead of being the intern with the 36-hour duty, he was now a person that could even come home at lunchtime. He would be there for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was such a beautiful thing for them to really enjoy fully for the first time a great deal of time together.
Q Did you observe anything about Jeff that caused you to feel that he was troubled in any way?
A Definitely not. I remember, we went out to the Jump School where they were making a jump, at the Airborne. And he was very happy because he was participating in the entire program. I think he was very proud of being where he was.
I think he was a fine officer, because the men seemed to enjoy him. I met some of his friends at Thanksgiving dinner, and there was a great deal of what I would consider social festivity, in terms of people getting along well together. And Colette was very pleased and proud to be the hostess. And my son -- one of his natural instincts is to be a good host, and he was. I just perceived real happiness there.
Q Mrs. MacDonald, did you observe anything in the home that caused you to feel that there might be excessive drinking going on in the family?
A Definitely not.
Q Did you know the habits of Colette and Jeff as far as the use of alcoholic beverages was concerned?
A I think I would be fairly familiar with that, and I would say that they were extremely moderate people. Neither one were the type that would overindulge in either food, drink or -- you know -- they were very moderate people.
Q Mrs. MacDonald, sometimes when you are around two people you can just sense -- you can just feel -- that things are not right or that things are not good. Did you go away after Thanksgiving feeling like that at all?
A Absolutely not. I felt that at Thanksgiving when I left that all was absolutely well with them. They were really pleased about the impending birth of another child. Our time that was spent together was very good. I can't say anything except positive things about the relationship at that time.
Q Mrs. MacDonald, you also told us that you visited at New Year's -- that would be the end of 1969, the beginning of 1970; is that correct?
A That is correct.
Q And it would also be a month and a half prior to Colette's death; would that be correct?
A That is correct.
Q Between Thanksgiving and New Year's when you went down for a visit, did you sense anything happening through your telephone conversations that you said you had with them?
A No; I don't remember anything being really askew in any way. You know -- it seemed like a very natural and normal thing. It was just "Hi. How are you? How are the children?" Things were going well. Jeff was enjoying what he was doing. Colette was going to school, and she was very pleased about that.
Jeff is the type of person that would encourage her to do that. When she finished her second year at Skidmore and they married, of course, there was a temporary delay in her education, but Jeff is the type of person -- and I think anyone would attest to this -- that he encourages other people to bring out the best within them. He tends to do this, and with Colette I think what he did was not only encourage her but voluntarily, say, babysit while she attended classes and certainly enjoyed that because it was a time for him to be with his children.
Q Mrs. MacDonald, before I ask you questions about any additional things you can tell us on your visit New Year's, let me ask you a couple of questions about their financial situation. Was Jeff as a young boy brought up in a home where there was more than enough money?
A We were, I would say, middle class people.
Q What did your husband do if you don't mind telling us?
A He was an engineer at the Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Q And you were employed?
A I was employed as a school nurse. I worked for 24 years.
Q Did you give Jeff and Colette money during the time they were in medical school?
A In medical school, yes, some money, but we no longer had to underwrite his -- like -- education as we had done in Princeton.
Q After Jeff got out of medical school, did you ever give Jeff and Colette any money?
A Well, I remember giving him a fairly handsome check at the time of graduation so that they might enjoy a little vacation and also get a start when they were starting their internship -- his internship.
Q Did Jeff ever ask you for sums of money after that?
A Jeff is not the type of person that asks people for money. He usually is a provider. There may have been times when he asked his dad, but I was not aware of it. I would really doubt that.
Q What was their financial situation when they got to Fort Bragg?
A Well, as I say, sir, I think that this is probably about the easiest time for them because of the fact that now he was getting a Captain's salary and they had good housing -- I felt -- and they said many times that it really was the most comfortable period -- you know -- that they had been through financially.
Q When you went down to visit them New Year's, did you find any decorations in the house at that time?
A I'm sorry. I'm not sure what you're asking.
Q Was the house decorated at New Year's season?
A You mean left over from Christmas?
A To my recall, I think that the Christmas tree was still up yet.
Q Did you feel at that time that Jeff and Colette were happy with each other?
A Oh, absolutely.
Q Did you ever see them smile at each other?
A Oh, all the -- I mean it was more than smiling. There was, if you will excuse the expression, a little petting going on -- you know. He would go over and embrace her and kiss her, and it was -- they touched each other. I mean it was a physical relationship.
Q I asked you, Mrs. MacDonald, about Thanksgiving and whether you sensed anything bad going on. Did you sense anything bad going on between them at New Year's, a month and a half before Colette died?
A Well, an interesting thing occurred. Colette told me the story of how from about the latter part of November through December she was a little bit anxious because there were sort of mysterious absences of my son, and she said, "Mom, you know, I really feel so guilty because on Christmas morning -- and I had been really worried -- I hadn't said anything to Jeff," she said. "He asked us all to get into the car. We were going for a drive. He wanted to show us something, and we drive down several miles to a farm of some type and he leads us over and here he has a pony for the children which he had purchased probably in the latter part of November, and what he had done was to build a pony barn." And she said that she felt so upset because she had mistrusted him for the absences of his time that she broke down and cried but felt a tremendous sense of relief because here he had been going to water and feed the pony and to build this building with a little superstructure in it for the hay and so forth, and she was very touched by his thoughtfulness but felt kind of guilty that she had even doubted him in any way.
Q Then you did not sense anything bad had occurred between them?
A No, sir.
Q When you left after New Year's, were you disturbed about them in any way?
A Not a bit. I left with a very light heart and traveled up -- you know -- Eastern Shore and went back to work -- you know -- the following day after New Year's.
Q Mrs. MacDonald, where were you when you heard the bad news?
A I was home in bed. Oh, when I heard the bad news.
Q The bad news.
A Well, I received a call early in the morning of the 17th. It was Mr. Kassab and he said, "Perry, I've just gotten a call from Fort Bragg and they have informed us that you and I and Mildred should come down to Fort Bragg immediately," and I asked him why and he said he didn't know. They were not revealing the reason for it but that he was to -- they asked him to call me and he did and could I please come over, but he said in the meantime, "I'm going to check this out because it could be something that" -- you know -- "somebody's playing a trick or something."
So, he called apparently back to Fort Bragg and did verify from the -- I'm not sure whom he called. At any rated; he called me back and said that apparently it was true and that we were to get together, could I please pack a bag and get over to where they lived and we would drive to the airport, and we went to LaGuardia, as I recall, and from LaGuardia we had to helicopter over to the New Jersey side in order to get to the airport there, in order to get a flight down to Fort Bragg.
Q Mrs. MacDonald, at that time you did not really know what happened, did you?
A No, sir; we did not know.
Q Did you even know that anyone was dead?
A Well, sir, on the way down in the plane, we conjectured because it would be unlikely to call three people down with this sense of urgency unless something was wrong; and we didn't know what it was.
Q Did you try in your own mind, maybe, to relate it to Colette's pregnancy?
A That was one of the ideas. In other words, we felt perhaps Jeff had taken Colette in, say, early labor to the hospital and they had been in an accident. We thought, "Do they have a gas stove or an electric stove; could it have been an explosion." You know, you just keep wondering why it -- why are we being called. Why are we being called.
Q And hoping, of course.
A But there is this terrible, terrible sense of dread, because it seemed ominous, you know, to have three of us ordered essentially down to the base.
Q What happened next?
A We arrived at the airport and met by a captain who came and introduced himself and took us into the car, and we asked him please tell us where we were going; and he said that he was taking us to the Womack Army Hospital.
And we arrived at -- he said he was not -- he was under orders not to reveal why we were there, and we went to the Womack Army Hospital. And we were escorted up into the room where Jeff was.
Q When you walked into the room, did you immediately see Jeff?
A Yes; he was in bed.
Q Do you recall what conversation you had with him and how he looked?
A The first thing -- the first thing that I, you know, truly recall vividly is the fact that -- the sight of him there, and he had a chest tube in -- was that he was injured. And the second impression would be of Jeff saying to us, "My God," you know, "they're dead -- Kimmie, Kristie and Colette are dead."
Q What happened next?
A It's -- as I recall, I was agitated, went to his bedside, cried, said I felt like screaming. I don't think I screamed. I think I said I would like to scream.
I remember Mr. Kassab escorting me out of the room, and I came back in a matter of moments, went to Jeff, of course, and tried to solace him. He was very agitated and crying.
Q What did you observe, if anything, about his appearance?
A That he was injured; he had wounds across the -- what I would call the diaphragm area. There were this -- with the tube emerging obviously -- a chest tube from his chest.
He had a hematoma of rather large size on his head, and a smaller one next to it. Later, as I went to pat his head, he -- I noticed that there was an abrasion behind the ear with slight swelling here. He had, as I recall, some slash-type marks on his arm. I think that is about what I can recall, sir.
Q What happened after that, Mrs. MacDonald?
A There was a period of time that we stayed with him, and he told us -- he told us about the people that he had seen.
At that time a lot of people were arriving without my knowing it. People from the outside had learned of this apparently much faster than Mr. and Mrs. Kassab and I learned of it, because they were hearing about it on television, whereas we didn't know -- we were on a plane in transit, so we were essentially quite late in learning of the event.
And they were beginning to arrive -- my family, you know, was coming; and friends were coming. And the Army personnel were very helpful. They were arranging accommodations for people and providing food and places to stay. It was a very mixed-up time.
Q How long did you stay at Fort Bragg, Mrs. MacDonald?
A I stayed at Fort Bragg during that week. We attended the services which were held in the Kennedy -- John F. Kennedy Memorial Chapel on Saturday, and Sunday we flew the girls home.
Q Just take your time, if you will, Mrs. MacDonald.
A We flew the girls home on Sunday. I stayed overnight at my friends' house, and I drove back with my own car the following -- I believe on Tuesday, and went back to the hospital, you know, to visit with Jeff.
Q Did there later, Mrs. MacDonald, come a time when you took Jeff anywhere?
A Yes; we left the hospital when he was discharged several days later, and over the radio it was being announced that the guards were -- the guards were being withdrawn from Captain MacDonald. This was a radio station that was announcing that; and I became very agitated and asked to see his colonel, and went over to see him, and asked why the protection was being withdrawn from Jeff at that time.
Q Let me interrupt you, Mrs. MacDonald, to let you know that statements made by other people to you would be hearsay, so don't tell what other people said, but what did you do then?
A I asked the colonel why they were being withdrawn.
Q And then would you state whether or not you and Jeff made any trips together?
A Colonel Kane's wife came to me very graciously and she suggested that we needed a rest and that the shore was very nice at this time of the year, and she suggested that I take him to the shore for a few, you know, days. And I asked the colonel's permission and he gave it, and we indeed then go to the shore.
Q Did Jeff make any complaints to you about his physical condition at that time -- any kinds of physical problems that he had?
A Well, he had a perpetual headache, and he actually had complained of that in the hospital before he left the hospital. His initial pain was always his chest area, which is very understandable because that would be in a sense the major, you know, area of pain.
And as the chest wounds healed, the head, you know, became more apparent. I understand that the body can only, in a sense, register the major pain; and then as it decreases then the other pains are felt. And so, you know, he took simple things like aspirin for it.
Q How long did you stay at the shore?
A Several days; and then we went back to Fort Bragg, and I stayed then with him. We asked for -- he had received officer's quarters -- like the single officer's quarters -- and -- but the room was very badly stained, and it was a very depressing room.
And once again I asked the colonel if we could have maybe lightly better accommodations for him since the scene that he had lived through was unpleasant, and the colonel was very kind and provided those.
But still, for the first few days, when we came back from the shore, I -- the Army had very graciously afforded me like a guest accommodation with two rooms with an adjoining kitchen and bath; and Jeff stayed there for about a week and then he moved into his own quarters.
But I stayed at Fort Bragg, and I went back -- one day he said to me after he started back to work, "It's okay now, Mom; I can," you know, "do it." He had gotten back to work.
And I went back on April the 5th, which was a Sunday, and I went to work on April the 6th; and I came home and I hadn't even unpacked the car, because it was a 12-hour trip up from Bragg to where I live in Patchogue.
And I came in the door from work, and the -- I turned on the TV, and before I removed my coat I heard over the television station that my son was now held as the accused person who had committed this crime.
Q Mrs. MacDonald, after that event, there were some legal proceedings. Without getting into detail about those, did you come down to Fort Bragg and attend any of those proceedings?
A Sir, I am not sure I know what you are saying. I did go down to Fort Bragg with Mr. Segal and his associate, if that is what you mean.
Q Yes, ma'am.
Q But then, after that and after those proceedings were concluded, did you go back home to live in Patchogue?
A I went back and I worked until the end of June, when our school year closes down. Then I returned down to Fort Bragg in early July, when the Article 32 hearing started.
Q All right; now, did there come a time when Jeff moved back to New York?
A That was after the Article 32 was over, sir.
Q All right; about what month would that have been?
A As I recall, the Colonel Rock's report --
MR. BLACKBURN: (Interposing) Your Honor, we would OBJECT to the statements about that report.
THE COURT: I think Counsel has already instructed her not to say what happened or anything.
MR. SMITH: She is not going to tell what happened.
THE COURT: She can relate it date wise -- but otherwise she won't say anything about it.
THE WITNESS: We heard about the decision --
BY MR. SMITH:
Q (Interposing) Don't say anything about the decision but just tell what happened after that.
A My daughter and I went down to Pennsylvania as a sort of halfway point, and met Jeff, who came up from Bragg. We spent a weekend there. I am not exactly clear where he went from there, but I do know that very soon after that, he started work in New York City.
Q Let's begin at that point. What kind of work did he do in New York City?
A He was an industrial doctor -- they were erecting the tallest building in the world, the Twin Towers of New York City. He worked as an industrial doctor during the day. He worked in the evening for a doctor who was -- the euphemism for him was "Dr. Broadway." Apparently, this man ran an office to service theaters, restaurants, and so forth. In other words, people who might need immediate medical attention -- this man ran a medical service, and Jeff worked that way also at night.
Q So are you saying, then, Mrs. MacDonald, that he worked two jobs?
A Yes, sir; I am.
Q How long did he keep that up?
A I would say roughly six months.
Q Did you see him from time to time during that six months?
A Yes, sir; I did.
Q Mrs. MacDonald, was Jeff happy at that time in his life?
A No; he wasn't happy. I was very sad, and I am sure that he was very sad.
Q What was he like?
A I think he was just, in a sense, working -- working. He lived in New York and he had an apartment there. And it was a small, ordinary apartment. I would guess that he could spend very little time within it. I had a feeling of tremendous loneliness. I feel as though there was really very little left for him in the New York area at all -- Long Island.
His daddy is dead. His sister is married and living in Schenectady. His brother is in Pennsylvania. I am working and now caring for my mother, whose health was failing. So there was a great sense of loneliness for him.
Q Did he talk to you about his loneliness?
A Oh, absolutely; but you must understand -- I would have to backtrack a bit.
Q Please do?
A In my household, my husband was a very -- what can I say -- enduring male. I mean, he was that kind of person. And you did never complain. So it would be considered a mark of weakness to complain. Jeff did not complain in terms of, like, whining. It was a question of -- you could feel the desperate loneliness. There were times when he would break down and weep. And it is something that it is hard for him to do, because he becomes embarrassed by it. He feels somehow that it is unmanly to do that.
Q Did he talk about Colette and the children?
Q Do you remember any of the things that he would say about Colette and the children?
A "I loved them. I miss them. My God, why did this have to happen?"
Q After a while, Mrs. MacDonald, did you get the feeling that there just wasn't anything left for Jeff in New York?
A I knew there was nothing in New York. I felt that the city itself -- he enjoys things like theatre. He enjoys sports. But there wasn't time to attend sports, and he certainly wasn't attending theatre. He was attending sick people in theatre. You can be very, very lonely in a big city like New York.
New York is kind of a devastating place to be when you are alone. It can be fun if you are with family or a group or enjoying it. But no one knows you and it is isolated and depersonalized, and I felt it was not his style of life at all.
Q What happened soon?
A I one day got a telephone call from Jeff. He said, "Mom, I don't mean to, you know, have this come as a shock to you, but I have a friend in California who has invited me to like review a possible job out there. I don't want you to feel as though I am deserting you."
I said, "I do not sense it as a desertion. I feel that you have really got to -- you know -- get on with your life. You really must do that." He said, "Well, I would like to go out and visit." He said, "I will be gone for a while and when I come back, maybe we can get together for dinner, if you can come into New York, and we will talk about it." That is exactly what happened. He did go to California, apparently, and when he came back he gave me a call one day at work and said, "When you finish work can you come into New York?" And I said, "Yes." We sat and talked about it, and he said, "I really must get away." He said, "Long Island is a very sad place for me." And I said I understood that. And he said, "I really feel that the job -- it is something that I feel that I can do, and I know Jerry. And the place is nice and the people there seem very kind." Besides which, it is a place that you can come and visit, because I had never seen California, and I said, "Go with my blessing."
Q What happened then, if anything?
A Jeff knew that he would have to break this news to Mr. and Mrs. Kassab, because they had been calling him frequently. And I would guess that it was mostly Mr. Kassab who had called Jeff -- and in fact, I would say called him very, very frequently.
Jeff felt somehow that he had not time really to grieve, because Freddie seemed to be pushing --
MR. BLACKBURN: (Interposing) Your Honor, we would OBJECT to this.
THE COURT: I will SUSTAIN that. Just go ahead and develop what you want to.
BY MR. SMITH:
Q Mrs. MacDonald, let me ask a question I think will help you move in a different direction. After Jeff decided to move to California, did you and Jeff ever go and have a meeting with Mr. Kassab or Mrs. Kassab?
A Yes; as I recall, we did, sir.
Q Was the meeting with both Mr. and Mrs. Kassab, or just one?
Q Were you present at the meeting?
Q Was anyone else present?
A Yes; I believe I had my friend Helen Fell (phonetic) with me.
Q Do you recall what Jeff said to Mr. and Mrs. Kassab?
MR. BLACKBURN: Your Honor, we would OBJECT to this.
THE COURT: SUSTAINED.
BY MR. SMITH:
Q Do you remember the conversation? Don't say what it was. Do you remember it?
A Yes; I remember it in general terms.
Q Where were you?
A In the Kassab home.
Q And Mrs. Kassab was there?
MR. SMITH: If Your Honor pleases, I think we are entitled to go into this because I think Mrs. Kassab opened the door.
THE COURT: Well, come and tell me then. It could be but it's been so long I'll have to have my recollection refreshed.
B E N C H C O N F E R E N C E
MR. SMITH: Judge, let me reassure counsel that this is not a nasty discussion she is going into. It is that Jeff was very kind and explained that there was nothing left for him in New York and that he had an opportunity to go to California and felt like that's where his life was. In other words, I think what we are going to do is contrast through this woman. Whereas Mrs. Kassab -- I think her testimony was mean on that point. "Jeff is leaving us."
I think the truth of the matter is -- what this woman is going to say is Jeff was very gentle and kind and I think the jury is entitled to know that because of what Mrs. Kassab said.
MR. BLACKBURN: Let me ask you this: what is she going to say that Mrs. Kassab said?
MR. SMITH: I am not going to let her say anything but Mrs. Kassab said something. I can prove that through another witness.
MR. BLACKBURN: We would OBJECT to going into this type of conversation.
MR. SMITH: Good heavens, Judge. Judge, how come?
MR. BLACKBURN: We think it is hearsay. It is out of court statements. It is not probative of anything. It is not particularly relevant. He has proved, I think, as he is entitled to, that Dr. MacDonald wanted to go to California. He has already brought that out.
THE COURT: I will just let him say this and did he explain the reasons why he went and so forth and just let it go at that.
MR. SMITH: It is not going to be objectionable testimony.
THE COURT: Let's get on with this. We are just wasting time.
(Bench conference terminated.)
BY MR. SMITH:
Q Mrs. MacDonald, do you recall those conversations?
THE COURT: She said "Yes" to that.
MR. SMITH: All right, well, we always ask each question twice.
THE COURT: I know. I try from time to time to dissuade you, but it's a futile effort both for you and your adversary.
BY MR. SMITH:
Q What, if anything, did Jeff say to Mr. and Mrs. Kassab?
A I think he explained to them why he felt that it was -- you know -- an opportunity to go, I think, where the land had sunshine, so to speak. He was very depressed and he just explained to them that he had to move on with his life, that the memories -- you know -- were very sad on the east coast and tried to be very gentle and explain that he didn't want them to feel as though he was in quotes "deserting them" but that in fact he just felt as though he had to gather this strength now really and focalize on doing something beneficial for -- you know -- himself and other people, and he felt that this job perhaps he could in quotes "do that."
Q Did Jeff in fact move to California?
A Yes; he did.
Q What has he been like since he's been in California?
A A very active person, certainly dedicated to his work, very quickly apparently became the emergency room director. He now heads a staff -- you know -- of many men, has revamped the systems for the paramedics in Long Beach, California, has gone on to write a book, has written articles -- these are medical treatises that I'm speaking of -- has participated in the life of California to the extent of forming girls' baseball teams, men's baseball teams, men's football teams, basketball teams. They do this by screening hospitals, and the police department and the fire department. He lectures. He leads a very full life.
Q Mrs. MacDonald, besides the fact that Jeff does not now have Colette and Kristen and Kim, is he the same Jeffrey MacDonald he was when you knew him growing up in high school, for example?
A Well, sir, time certainly erodes certain things, and I would say that the -- what can I say -- the wonderful -- that first innocence is diminished in all of us. By the same token, he retains the qualities of compassion, usefulness. He has his sense of humor.
He is not a truly embittered person, although it is remarkable to me that he is not, and that has been stated by close friends of mine who have observed him. I can only say that I think he has matured very well but with great sadness.
Q Mrs. MacDonald, I'm sure that any mother would want her son to be perfect. Was Jeff perfect as a young boy?
Q Is he perfect now?
Q Even though he is not perfect -- let this be my last question to you -- tell us what is the whole man like?
A Dedicated. I think his whole life has been that way. He's always been a person that has had a dream and would like to fulfill it and is doing that. He is persevering. He has remarkable character, I think. He is honest. He is a very -- I would say -- he is a reasonably diversified man. I mean he can do many things. He is the type of person that enjoys his boating, enjoys fishing, enjoys sports, enjoys theater, doesn't always have time for all of these things because it's perfectly true that he is also never very far away from his work.
MR. SMITH: You may examine the witness.
THE COURT: Any questions?
MR. BLACKBURN: Yes, Your Honor.
C R O S S - E X A M I N A T I O N 10:18 a.m.
BY MR. BLACKBURN:
Q Mrs. MacDonald, I believe it was late yesterday afternoon when you were testifying about when your son and Colette were in Chicago. I believe that's where Kristen was born; is that correct?
A That is correct.
Q And if you would, please, and you may have done this yesterday afternoon, describe, if you can, what you remember about the birth of Kristen as to whether or not that was a difficult birth for Colette or not.
A I'm sure it was a difficult birth for Colette. As I understand it, she had a Cesarean. I was not present. Following the Cesarean, apparently there was a time when she hemorrhaged -- internal hemorrhaging. Jeff, who was attending the hospital at that time, entered the room and found her in this condition and immediately got the physician back and apparently he stayed all through the night and day and they stabilized Colette.
Q As a result of that difficult birth, do you know whether or not there was any subsequent concern over Colette bearing another child?
A I'm sure there was because I would myself have some concern about it. However, she was assured that she could bear other children.
Q If I remember and I think it was yesterday afternoon you were talking about being down there at Thanksgiving at Fort Bragg and learning that Colette was pregnant again, and I think you said that she and your son were happy about it. What was your attitude towards it? Were you as pleased as they were?
A My first one, as I thought I said this yesterday -- my own would be a little, "Oh, Colette, how do you feel about this?" because of knowing of her prior birth. She said, "I understand" -- you know -- "your anxiety but I feel fine about this. I really do. I'm strong and we wanted five children and we just hope this is a boy, and I'm really feeling fine." And I must say, Mr. Blackburn, that all the time that I saw her on that particular weekend and at New Year's I found no symptoms of physical distress in her. She was eating, sleeping, functioning very well, looked good -- you know.
Q I know you were down there at New Year's. When was the last time that you can recall talking to Colette prior to her death?
A It would probably be aphone call some time in the middle of January.
Q I know you said yesterday -- I think it was -- that you were not a real diligent letter writer?
A That is correct.
Q And you used the telephone instead?
A Uh-huh (yes).
Q Were you a fairly diligent telephone caller to your son and Colette?
A I would say I was not the type that called every day. We still do not. I am not that type -- but an occasional call to check in And say, "Hi, how are you; how are things?"
Q During this time period -- maybe New Year's or making the phone call in mid-January -- did Colette ever say anything to you concerning her worry or possible concern over the medical treatment that she might receive when her third child was born?
Q Do you know as of the last time you talked with her as to whether or not she had a doctor?
Q When I say "a doctor," I mean for the child.
A I felt that she was in good hands.
Q Because of your son?
Q Now, during the time that Colette and your son were married, when was it if at any time she ever discussed with you any feelings of loneliness because your son was away working or studying or anything of that nature?
A Oh, we would talk about it frequently. In other words, I would say, you know, "It's kind of a tough running, kid, isn't it?" And she'd say, "Yes, it is; but it's okay. I mean, we have a future."
You know, everyone understood that it wasn't going to be an easy time. I explained to you that I have taken her on trips. I would take her to the beach with the children, and I took her down to Pennsylvania to visit friends of mine who had a pool, and we stayed the entire weekend.
And there were times when I recognized that there would be long periods of time when she was without her husband's companionship, and we would discuss it. And of course it was in a sense a distressing factor. But Colette was a -- what can I say -- an understanding person and said, "Well, look, I mean this is what I wanted. I mean I love Jeff and I have to put up with the bad times now, but we will have better times."
Q During the Thanksgiving or New Year's or any of your phone conversations, you know, towards the end, with Colette, did she ever express to you in any way any knowledge or concern that her husband and your son might be away for a lengthy period of time in the springtime?
A Are you speaking about going to a -- serving in the Armed Forces for a special assignment?
Q Well, let me tell you what I am specifically talking about and you tell me whether or not you recall that: do you recall Colette ever saying anything to you about her concern that Jeff might be in Russia with a boxing team during the time that she might be giving birth to her third child?
A Yes; that was discussed.
Q Well, what did Colette say about it?
A Well, she was upset because it would mean a separation again.
Q Do you know about how long that that separation was?
A I would have no idea, sir.
Q Now, I believe you said that when your son was in medical school, of course, in their early marriage, you helped them out by giving them some money, is that right?
A Uh-huh (yes).
Q During the time that they were at Fort Bragg, I know you testified that their income was better at that time?
A Uh-huh (yes).
Q Did there ever come a time that you ever gave your son any money at all, a loan to help him through the months?
A I don't recall any being given at that time, sir.
Q Did -- I assume you were very close to both of your grandchildren Kimberley and Kristen?
A Uh-huh (yes).
Q Do you know whether or not Kimberley ever had a bedwetting problem?
A As an infant, naturally.
Q How about Kristen?
A As an infant, yes; but I'm saying I feel -- if you are asking me, "Did Kimberley have a bedwetting problem in, say, in her fifth year."
Q No; well, did she?
A Not to my knowledge.
Q She had one like so many children when she was young, is that correct?
A Well, I mean all children wet the bed as infants.
Q Now, you have described Colette in many ways both yesterday and today. To your knowledge, was Colette the type of individual who would confide things to you? I know that is a hard question to answer.
A How can I tell you how much confidence one woman places in another, except that we revealed things to each other and discussed mutual feelings; and when she was a little distressed about, say, a separation, it was stated.
I mean, we could be open and honest with each other. I could, you know -- one woman can sense in another woman, I'm sure, and you cannot live in such close proximity without recognizing, shall we say -- you can almost predict sometimes the behavior patterns of people that you know well.
Q Well, would you describe Colette as sort of a worrier?
A Uh-huh; yes, I would.
Q What sort of things would she worry about?
A Little things; she was a little bit of what I would call a fussbudget, you know; she wants to please. And as a result I think that she would in a sense be a very diligent person.
Q Now, you visited their home at Fort Bragg on two occasions, is that correct?
A That is correct.
Q During the time that you spent there, did you ever see any candles burning in the house?
A There undoubtedly were candles in the house. I certainly didn't take them into my -- what can I say -- consideration. I wasn't thinking candles, if you know what I mean. But it would not be uncommon for them to have candles. Candles were something that were common in our household.
Q Now, during this time that you were there I take it -- well, let me ask you, did you ever help Colette and Jeff in the kitchen?
A Yes, I did.
Q You did some of the cooking, and so forth?
A I helped Colette prepare the Thanksgiving Day dinner.
Q When you went to the hospital and saw your son with the Kassabs for the first time, can you describe whether he was sitting up or lying down in bed?
A I would say that the bed was at a 45-degree -- the head of the bed was at probably what I would consider a 45-degree angle.
Q And was he bare from the chest up?
A Yes; that is correct.
Q And you could see the chest tube?
A Yes, I could.
Q You were there for how long, if you recall?
A Over the period of days --
Q (Interposing) No, I'm sorry, that first time you saw him?
A I would conjecture probably -- possibly an hour. We realized that he was getting very fatigued, and in fact I think we were asked to leave so that he could rest.
Q Well, you testified on direct examination the description of the injuries that you saw on him. How many bumps did you observe on his head?
A As I recall, there was one fairly obvious one. The other one was slightly smaller.
Q You did not feel his head, though, I don't guess, for bumps or lumps or anything like that?
A Oh, I did not examine his head thoroughly. I went at one time to essentially stroke him to hopefully reduce some of his pain, and incurred some, because he also had this contusion behind his ear which I had not been aware of.
Q Did you feel the contusion behind his ear?
A Yes; there was a slight bump behind it.
Q You didn't have an opportunity to observe his medical records, I take it?
A I did not.
Q Excuse me if I have asked this question: you are a school nurse; is that correct?
A Yes; I am.
Q Did you have an occasion to observe his coloring at all when you first saw him?
A I would say he was pale.
Q Does "pale" mean not good?
A Yes; "pale" means not good.
Q Let me ask you this: do you recall testifying before the grand jury?
A Yes; I do.
Q Do you recall looking at his eyes during this time?
A Yes; I looked at his eyes, naturally.
Q How would you describe them? Were they normal -- in normal condition?
A I would say that he had great circles under his eyes. There was a tremendous look of despair and fatigue. He looked blanched out and tired.
Q I guess what I am getting at -- were his eyes glazed over, or anything like that?
A I could not use the term "glazed." No; I could not.
Q But you describe his coloring as "pale."
A I would say he was pale; yes.
Q Let me read from page 48 of your grand jury testimony -- just a couple of lines -- and ask you whether or not this rings a bell with you. Starting on the last line on page 47: "...Question: As a nurse, what was your observation as to his physical condition? Answer: Well, I would say that he -- Question: Was his coloring good? Answer: Reasonably good. Question: Were his eyes normal? Answer: The eyes were normal, but I would suggest to you that when he is fatigued and really tired he always has, like, rather dark circles. This is a mother's observation kind of thing, and they were apparent to me for a long time." Does any of that ring true with you?
Q During the time that you were in the hospital, that first hour, did he give any description to you of who he said had done this?
A He talked in terms of four people -- a woman with a white hat, boots; three men, one black, one wearing an Army jacket. There has been such confusion about the case for so long that sometimes it is hard to recall exactly what you have heard.
Q Let me ask you this question: do you recall what color boots he said they were?
A I honestly cannot recall that. I have heard "white boots," and I really cannot tell you exactly where I got that.
Q Now, during the time that you went away with your son to the beach or the shore, and you were with him during this three-week period after the murders occurred, did there ever come a time during this period that you discussed in any detail the events of what occurred with your son?
A No, sir; never. That may seem strange to you, but believe me, I felt that my role was one of helping him to get over it rather than to have to recall that -- what must have been --
Q (Interposing) Now, yesterday afternoon, I remember -- I think -- that you talked about the fact that Colette was concerned about safety, but she might not be as much concerned if her husband was home with her; is that essentially correct?
A Yes, sir.
Q You are not saying, are you, that because your son was at home, that she would never lock the doors?
A I cannot swear to that, but I would know that when they were home with us we never locked the doors, and it didn't seem to concern Colette.
Q Let me ask you this last one or two questions, Mrs. MacDonald. During the intervening time since the 17th of February of 1970, have you ever had occasion to discuss in any real detail the events of that night with your son?
A I never have.
MR. BLACKBURN: No further questions, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Any redirect?
MR. SMITH: No redirect, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Call your next witness.
MR. SMITH: Thank you. You may come down, Mrs. MacDonald.
Note from Christina Masewicz: The Court Reporter's misspelling of Kimberly has been corrected to read Kimberley in the above transcript.