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

August 2, 1979: Craig Chamberlain, Former CID Lab Serologist


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 Thursday, August 2, 1979, at Raleigh, North Carolina.

(The following proceedings were held in the presence of the jury and alternates.)

THE COURT: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Were there further questions of this witness? I believe you had redirect examination.

MR. MURTAGH: Just a few, Your Honor.

(Whereupon, DR. CRAIG S. CHAMBERLAIN, the witness on the stand at the time of recess, resumed the stand and testified further as follows:)

R E D I R E C T E X A M I N A T I O N 9:31 a.m.

Q Dr. Chamberlain, yesterday, I believe, on cross-examination you were asked by Defense Counsel about who went first with relationship to the chemistry or fingerprint processing of the crime scene. Do you recall that?
A Yes.
Q My question, sir, is -- as I understood your testimony to Mr. Segal, it was that you and Mr. Medlin first went into a room. I think you said the master bedroom; is that correct?
A Yes; we did first go into a room.
Q Is it correct, or was it your testimony that you, as the chemistry technician -- well, what did you do first as the chemistry technician?
A Well, first I examined the area with the other people.
Q What did you examine it for?
A To locate potential blood stains.
Q What did you do to those areas at that time which you thought contained potential blood stains?
A They were marked.
Q Did you do a number of areas like that in the room?
A Yes, sir.
Q After those areas were marked -- let me ask you, did you mark all areas of potential blood stains in the master bedroom that you saw at that time?
A Yes, sir; I believe so.
Q If you know, sir, what did Mr. Medlin do next?
A Well, I wasn't with him, but I assume --

MR. SEGAL: (Interposing) That is OBJECTED to, Your Honor. We don't need assumptions.

THE COURT: Medlin has testified. Go on to something else.

Q Dr. Chamberlain, on cross-examination you were asked about the eyeglasses from which you collected a suspected blood stain. Do you recall that, sir?
A Yes, sir.
Q Could I ask you, please, do you recall collecting a stain from the eyeglasses?
A Yes, sir; I did.
Q Okay; did you subsequently transport that stain to the laboratory?
A Yes, sir; I did.
Q Did you perform any tests on that stain?
A Yes, sir; I did.
Q Do you recall what the results of those tests were?
A Yes, sir.
Q Would you please tell the Court and jury what you found?
A I performed the crust test and found a weak indication of anti A, a weak indication of anti B.
Q You found both, sir?
A Yes, sir.
Q Now, also on cross-examination -- and if I may approach the witness, Your Honor -- I believe at the time the chart 651 was up on the board, you were asked with respect to Government Exhibit 341, 342 and 343, which I believe you testified were suspected stains -- or suspected blood stains -- that you collected from the living room wall. Do you recall that?
A Yes, sir.
Q I believe on direct examination you had testified to the results as indicated on that chart. Do you recall that?
A Yes, sir.
Q Okay; now, my question is -- on cross-examination, Mr. Segal asked you whether the benzidine test was specific for blood. Do you recall that?
A Yes, sir; I do.
Q Please explain to the Court and jury what your understanding is of the term "specific for the presence of blood"?
A It means if the test is positive, it is extremely likely that the stain was blood.
Q And then I believe Mr. Segal asked you, "Isn't there some literature or some scientific basis that says the benzidine test is not specific in the absence of a Takayama test?" Do you recall that?

MR. SEGAL: I OBJECT to that. That is not what I said, Your Honor. I will be glad to repeat what I did say.

MR. MURTAGH: Why don't we read the transcript?

MR. SEGAL: If the Government would let the Defense see it also, that would be very helpful. They spend the taxpayers' money --


THE COURT: All right.

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, I think I can proceed without further ado.

Q Do you have an opinion, Dr. Chamberlain, satisfactory to yourself and based on a reasonable scientific certainty, as to whether the benzidine test detects the presence of blood? That is my first question.
A Yes, sir; it does detect the presence of blood.
Q Okay; how minute -- if you know, sir -- a stain will the benzidine test detect?
A It can detect a stain which may not be visible to the eye that is fairly dilute.
Q Can you give us any percentage on that of one part per so many, or whatever?
A No; I don't think I would like to do that.
Q But you testified, I believe, that the benzidine test on the areas on the wall above the couch was negative?
A Yes, sir.
Q What confirmatory test, if any, would be required -- in other words, if I understand your testimony, you are saying that there was no blood on the wall?
A Yes, sir; that is correct.
Q What relevancy, if any, does a confirmatory test have in that situation?
A In general, I would say no relevancy, sir.
Q Is it correct that the Takayama test, if it is indicated at all, is indicated when the benzidine test is positive?

MR. SEGAL: I would suggest that Mr. Murtagh try to refrain from leading his own witness, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Are you objecting?


THE COURT: I will SUSTAIN the objection to the leading questions.

Q Dr. Chamberlain, do you have an opinion satisfactory to yourself based on a reasonable degree of scientific certainty as to whether the benzidine test is capable of a false negative?
A Yes, sir; I have that opinion.
Q Would you please tell us what that is, sir?
A In general, I would say that in the hands of someone used to using the benzidine test, it will not give a false negative -- that is, were such a reaction to occur, a worker would recognize it as such.

MR. MURTAGH: Thank you. I have no further questions of this witness.

THE COURT: All right, call your next witness.

MR. SEGAL: Your Honor, I would like some questions on recross, if I may.

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, I don't believe I brought out any new matters.

THE COURT: I do not recall that he did.

MR. SEGAL: As a matter of fact, there is a new matter here. I think if I am permitted to ask.

THE COURT: Let me see you at the bench. Maybe you can refresh my recollection.


MR. SEGAL: He has testified, for instance, that he transported the speck of blood which he did not testify yesterday in direct or cross. I want to go into how he did that. Secondly, he has now contradicted his testimony about false negatives that he gave yesterday. I also want to ask, Your Honor, and I intend to make it the first question -- did he discuss this matter with counsel last night, because I understand that to be in violation of the order that no witness is to talk to the attorneys until their examination is complete once they go on the stand.
If he says he has in fact spoken to the attorneys overnight, then I am going to move to strike, Your Honor, all of the testimony this morning because we have been prohibited from doing that, and I cannot understand, if I suspect that is what happened, why the Government is allowed to do this while the Defense can't talk to any witness even for the other side.
I also have some other matters here. He has given testimony this morning about the crust test and what he found on the eyeglasses. There was no testimony on that yesterday either on direct or cross.

THE COURT: I don't recall any on that yesterday.

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, I did not ask him anything on direct about the eyeglasses. Mr. Segal asked him about the eyeglasses on cross. Mr. Segal asked him about the benzidine test on cross as to the false negative. The question was misleading in the sense that the results the witness had testified to were negative results, and the relevancy of the Takayama test, if any, is when there was a false positive.
Mr. Segal opened that door as to the business about transporting it to the lab. I recall, Your Honor, that on direct examination the witness testified that, in addition to the exhibits which he collected at the scene himself, he received exhibits from other agents. He transported them and he went through how he got them on the plane, and nobody tampered with them. Mr. Segal, I think, opened the door and all I did was clarify points that were brought out on cross-examination. I don't think I raised any new matter and, further, Your Honor, I did not talk to this witness.

MR. SEGAL: That's fine if you did not talk to him. Your Honor, he has testified differently --

MR. MURTAGH: (Interposing) He hasn't --

MR. SEGAL: (Interposing) Excuse me. I haven't interrupted you. Please don't interrupt me.

THE COURT: Now, all right, let me tell you. I am going to let you ask the questions, but the reason I want you both up here: it has been apparent to me from the very first time that the two of you appeared in this court that there was a certain amount of friction and animosity between you two. I quite understand.
I sat out there for 34 years in the dog days of August and during the third week of a trial. You may spurt off something that you, on reflection, would not have done. You did that yesterday. You were just about to do it again today, and, again, I must say, and this applies to both of you.

MR. MURTAGH: Yes, sir.

THE COURT: I am not going to have it, but the thing that I am apprehensive about is this: one or the other of you, if you show these displays of temper and hostility and animosity, are going to prejudice your client. I am here to see that this trial is conducted fairly, and it cannot be, and I am not going to tolerate its being tried in a climate of hostility for either side.
We are going to try it calmly. It ain't your case, and it ain't yours. It belongs to the parties in the case, and you are just here in a representative capacity -- both of you -- and I am expecting both of you on all sides to so conduct yourselves.
The last thing I ever would do, if I could avoid it, would be to embarrass a lawyer in front of a jury or his client. But if I have to do it in order to maintain order in this court and conduct this trial like it is supposed to be, that is what I am going to do.

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, I apologize to the Court.

THE COURT: Listen, I am not complaining with anybody, but I am just reminding you again what the rules are, and keep your cool about the thing if you can do so in 80 degree temperature.

MR. SEGAL: Let me just say I appreciate Your Honor's comments, and I accept them in the spirit that they were intended.

THE COURT: Let's go.

(Bench conference terminated.)

R E C R O S S - E X A M I N A T I O N 9:46 a.m.

Q Dr. Chamberlain, first I must ask you, have you discussed your testimony yesterday in court with any persons since you were last here in the courtroom?
A My testimony directly; no, sir. I have talked about tests with other technicians, but I wouldn't say I talked about my testimony directly.
Q You say you talked with other technicians about the subject matter of the tests and procedures that were used in this case.
A That were used in this case -- not with reference to this case I don't believe, sir. I don't really recall exactly.
Q And may I ask who were those persons that you discussed tests and procedures with?
A It would be --
Q (Interposing) I'm sorry. I can't hear you.
A I said I guess it would be the blood grouping specialist, Janice Glisson, possibly Larry Flinn, possibly Terry Laber, but I really don't recall, sir.
Q May I ask where you met and talked with these persons yesterday?

MR. BLACKBURN: Your Honor, we would OBJECT.

THE COURT: I'll SUSTAIN the objection. I'll let you question him as to matters that you have said were brought out on redirect examination as to which you have not had opportunity to cross-examine. I will limit it to that.

MR. SEGAL: Very well, Your Honor.

Q Dr. Chamberlain, how did you transport this speck of blood that you say was found on the glasses that belonged to Dr. MacDonald from the MacDonald house where it was found to Fort Gordon?
A A pair of eyeglasses was shown to me. I took the suspected blood stain, placed it between two glass slides, put the slides together, sealed them, and put it in a plastic evidence bag, and this was placed in a larger box, and it was transported along with most of the other evidence.
Q And how did you remove this speck of blood from the eyeglasses? What technique did you use?
A I don't recall exactly, sir.
Q You have no specific memory of how you removed that speck of blood?
A I have no specific memory, sir.
Q Well, what were the techniques that you were familiar with at that time as to how to remove blood from eyeglasses?
A I'm sorry. I thought you asked me about removing a speck from a slide.
Q I'm sorry if I said that. I didn't mean it. I asked you about the glasses or I intended to ask you about the glasses. How would you remove the speck of blood from the glasses to place on your slide to transport it?
A It was pried off with a sharp point of a knife, a laboratory knife, and placed on a slide.
Q Now, you have stated this morning, in regard to the three spots on the wall near the sofa, that there was no blood on the wall; do you recall saying this this morning?
A Sir, I believe I said that I found the presence of no blood.
Q And the reason you concluded that was because you put a spot of benzidine on that -- on those three spots; is that right?
A No, sir; that's incorrect.
Q Did you put benzidine on those three spots?
A No, sir; I did not.
Q What did you do to test specifically for blood on the wall?
A I performed the benzidine test for those three spots, sir.
Q And did you remove them from the wall to do that?
A Yes, sir, I did.
Q And when you did the benzidine test, what was the specific finding you came up with?
A The test was negative for the presence of blood.
Q You mean it was negative because there was no blood present or because the sample, the amount you took up, was not large enough to function as a source or indication of blood, using only the benzidine test?
A Assuming the stain was entirely blood, sir -- that is, it was red -- approximately red-brown -- there certainly would have been enough there to give a positive benzidine test had it been blood.
Q In other words, it was too small to prove it?


THE COURT: I will SUSTAIN the objection. I think he answered the question.

MR. SEGAL: All right, sir.

Q But the three spots that you saw on the wall near the sofa -- they were reddish-brown in color?
A I believe they were approximately that color, sir; I don't really recall the exact color now.
Q And because of that gross examination that you made of those spots on the wall, that led you to try and test for blood, is that right?
A That led me to test for blood, sir.

MR. SEGAL: Your Honor, indulge me for a second, please.

(Counsel confer.)

MR. SEGAL: If Your Honor, please, I have no further cross-examination of the witness. I do have a matter that I overlooked yesterday, and in view of that I would like to call Dr. Chamberlain as my witness for a very brief examination.

THE COURT: Very well.

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, I would OBJECT to this. There was ample opportunity for cross-examination.

THE COURT: Well, he said he overlooked it. He wants to examine the witness as his own, and I take it this witness is not now in Government service. He is in Minnesota or some place and needs to go back, so let's get through with him while he is here.

Whereupon, DR. CRAIG S. CHAMBERLAIN was called as a witness in rebuttal and having been previously sworn, was examined and testified as follows:)

D I R E C T E X A M I N A T I O N (9:53 a.m.)

Q Dr. Chamberlain, you examined, did you not, the panties and the nightgown that belonged to Kimberly MacDonald? I believe that was identified as Government 272 in this case.
A I would have to refresh my memory from my notes on that.
Q Would you please look at whatever notes you find necessary in that regard?
A Yes, sir. What were those again, sir?
Q The pink panties and nightgown that were identified as being the property of Kimberly MacDonald. May I suggest the CID number; would that help also?
A Yes, sir, that would help.
Q D-208.
A Yes, sir.
Q In regard to that particular item -- Kimberly MacDonald's pink panties and nightgown -- did you take an unstained control from those garments?
A I don't believe I examined that, sir. Did I testify that I did?
Q No, I'm asking you -- I'm not suggesting you did; I'm just asking you: did you take an unstained control on those items?
A I did not, sir; no.
Q In regard to the Exhibit which is 355 in this case but was known before as CID Number D-123, a purple quilted bedspread from the south bedroom. First, I would suggest you look at your notes and then I would like to ask you a question about that item.
A Yes, sir.
Q Do you recall whether you took an unstained control from that item?
A No, sir, I don't recall I did. I don't believe I did, sir.

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, could I ask that it be established first whether Dr. Chamberlain in fact examined those two exhibits. I don't understand him to have testified to that effect.

MR. SEGAL: I will be glad to do that, Your Honor.

Q Let me back up for one minute then. Going back to Kimberly MacDonald's pink panties and nightgown, which is G-272 here and D-208 in the CID laboratory, did you at any time in 1970 examine those items?
A I did not examine them for blood stains, sir, no.
Q Did you do any examination at all with those items?
A I don't believe so, sir.
Q Take a look then, if you would, at D-123 the CID number, and Government 355, the south bedroom purple quilted bedspread. Did you examine those items -- or that particular item, rather?
A No, sir.
Q Neither for blood nor for any other chemistry test?
A That is correct, sir.
Q May I ask you about D-124, which is the multi-colored quilt, largely purple in color, from the south bedroom. Did you examine that at any time?
A No, sir, not for a laboratory examination.
Q Did you examine it just grossly; I mean is that what you were indicating?
A Well, I transported it of course.
Q All right, lastly, I would like to ask you about D-19 from the CID report, known as G-120 in this case, the blue bedsheet from the east bedroom. Did you have occasion to examine that for blood stains, dried blood stains, or blood typing?
A No, sir.
Q One last one: D-211, the top sheet from the east bedroom -- did you examine that at any time for dried blood stains or any other chemistry test?
A No, sir.

MR. SEGAL: Thank you very much. I have no further questions of Dr. Chamberlain.

MR. MURTAGH: One question, Your Honor.

C R O S S - E X A M I N A T I O N (9:57 a.m.)

Q Dr. Chamberlain, with respect to those exhibits which Mr. Segal has just asked you about and which you have testified that you did not examine, is it your testimony that no one examined them, or that you personally did not examine them?
A I personally did not examine those, sir.

MR. MURTAGH: Thank you.

THE COURT: All right, call your next witness.

MR. MURTAGH: Your Honor, may Dr. Chamberlain be excused?

THE COURT: I would think so. He's been examined directly and indirectly, and cross-examined by both sides.

(Witness excused.)



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