The Honorable Franklin D. Dupree, Jr., was the presiding judge at the trial in 1979. He had just received the title of Chief Judge of the Federal Court of the Eastern District of North Carolina, presiding over forty-four of North Carolina's one hundred counties from Raleigh to the coast. Referred to as the hanging judge, he brandished his gavel with a no-nonsense wisdom, practicality and fairness.
He served as Chief Judge, 1979-1983 until he assumed senior status on December 31, 1983. He remained the judge in charge of the MacDonald case until his death, December 17, 1995.