People Magazine interviewed Jeffrey MacDonald, a North Carolina man who is fighting his 1979 murder conviction, for the cover of their January 30th issue.
MacDonald is currently serving three consecutive life sentences for the 1970 murder of his pregnant wife and two young daughters. He maintains his innocence, saying that four people broke into his home, knocked him unconscious and killed his family. He fought for years to have DNA evidence from the crime scene tested but was repeatedly denied.
In 1999, the Innocence Project joined MacDonald’s attorneys in the effort to secure DNA testing, and eventually a U.S. district judge allowed some of the evidence to be tested.
It took nearly a decade for the testing to be completed but when it was, results revealed that genetic material from three hairs found on the victims excluded MacDonald.
A retired U.S. Marshall also came forward, saying that another suspect in the case, Helena Stoeckley, admitted to the prosecutor that she was in the house on the night of the murders and that the prosecutor threated to indict her for first-degree murder if she admitted that in court. Stoeckley’s boyfriend, Greg Mitchell, and her mother also came forward with statements that support MacDonald’s version of the events.
In 2011, MacDonald’s case went before a federal appeals court, which ruled that courts must consider all relevant evidence of innocence when deciding whether to grant a defendant’s writ of actual innocence.
In 2012, the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence filed a motion for testing of all of the evidence, which was denied in 2014.
“I wanted the testing done because every time tests are done the evidence points to my innocence,” MacDonald told People. “And there’s a reason. I’m innocent.”
MacDonald’s case will go before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on January 26.
Read the People Magazine interview here.
For more on MacDonald’s case, watch People Magazine Investigates: The Accused, on Jan. 24 at 11 p.m. Eastern Time on Investigation Discovery (ID).