CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Jeffrey MacDonald
Aired October 24, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: exclusive, a jailhouse interview with Jeffrey MacDonald. He went from Army surgeon to notorious killer, convicted of the brutal 1970 stabbing and beating murders of his pregnant wife and their two little girls. Tonight, Jeffrey MacDonald tells his story from prison. And we'll hear from the woman who married him in August, 2002, Kathryn MacDonald. All next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening. We're at the Federal Correctional Institute in Cumberland, Maryland, for a visit with Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, the former Army doctor serving three life sentences for the murders of his wife and two daughters. We last interviewed Dr. MacDonald April 23, 1997. He was then in federal prison in Portland, Oregon. The defense had filed appeals then, one of them still outstanding, concerning DNA tests. We will get to that in a while.
Thanks for joining us again, Doctor.
JEFFREY MACDONALD, CONVICTED OF MURDERING PREGNANT WIFE & 2 DAUGHTERS IN 1970: Thank you for having me, Larry.
KING: Dr. MacDonald was an Army surgeon and a captain, correct?
MACDONALD: That's correct, in the special forces.
KING: Take me back -- special forces?
KING: That entails, like, Rangers, right?
MACDONALD: Green Berets.
KING: Yes. February 17, 1970 -- worst night of your life. What happened?
MACDONALD: Oh, wow. That was 33 years ago, Larry. That's a long time ago. This was at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This was the height of the Vietnam war. Fayetteville was a very violent and drug- filled town. The Army post was the largest post in America at the time. They had about 50,000 troops at any one time moving through constantly to Vietnam and back.
Colette and I -- my wife and I -- and our two daughters -- Kimberly, 5, and Kristen, 2 -- were living on post. I was a Green Beret captain, a physician, practicing as a physician in the Green Berets. I was a group surgeon. It was actually a good time for us. After coming through the trauma of medical school and an extremely grueling internship, a surgical internship in New York City at Columbia Presbyterian, so we found the Army life actually to be quite pleasant. It wasn't very difficult for me. I enjoyed the volunteer things that I did. I volunteered for the paratroopers and then the Green Berets. But we were living in a small apartment on Fort Bragg, officers' quarters.
KING: She was pregnant, right?
MACDONALD: My wife was pregnant, correct. That was our...
KING: How far along?
MACDONALD: About four-and-a-half, maybe five months.
KING: You knew then it would be a boy, though, right? Did you know?
MACDONALD: No. We did not know yet it would be a boy. No. We knew that she was pregnant. We really didn't want to know. We just sort of were waiting. And it was -- it was a decent life for us. We were able to pay the bills. I was home in the evening, except maybe one night a week when I moonlighted to make extra money, which was approved by the Army. We worked as emergency physicians in nearby hospitals. And we had a nice circle of friends. So actually, it was...
KING: What happened?
MACDONALD: Well, February 16 was a Monday in 1970, and it was a day like any other day to us. It was a little dreary. It was a little cold. I worked that day. Colette stayed at home with the kids. I came home at 5:00 o'clock. I took the children down to visit our pony that I had bought them for Christmas, and we fed the pony. I came back, had dinner. My wife went to extension classes at the University of North Carolina on post. I took care of the kids that evening.
My wife came home about 9:00 o'clock, and the kids were both in bed by this time. And we spent a couple of hours together, just normal, conversing. It was nothing unusual. There was no major topic of conversation that I even recall. And we watched a little television. We shared one liqueur together, a little Drambuie, I think it was. And Colette went to bed about 11:00 o'clock.
I stayed up a little later. I had fallen asleep for a little while on the floor while my daughter and I were watching "Laugh-In." So I wasn't tired. And the dishes had yet to be done, so I started to do the dishes, so my wife wouldn't have to do them in the morning. After I finished the dishes, I -- Johnny Carson was on. I sat down and I did some reading on the couch.
And when I went up to go to bed somewhere probably around 12:30 or 1:00, my youngest daughter had gotten into our bed in the master bedroom and wet my side of the bed. So I took care of the child. I brought her back to her bed and pushed the sheets away from the wet spot on the master bed, got an extra blanket and went out on the couch and went to sleep on the couch.
Up until now, everything was totally normal. There was nothing unusual at all in our life that we were aware of. The next thing I knew, I was awakened on the couch, and I was awakened by a combination of hearing my wife screaming for help and asking for me and my older daughter...
KING: The 5-year-old?
MACDONALD: ... the 5-year-old, yelling, screaming for help -- Daddy, Daddy, Daddy. And my wife was saying, Jeff, Jeff. Why are they doing this? Help, Jeff. And I started to push up. There was a little light on in the kitchen, which is a small apartment, and there was some light in the living room from this light in the kitchen. And there were to my immediate view, three people. It turned out there were four, but I saw three people, a black male, two white males. The black male had on an Army jacket with E-6 (ph) sergeant stripes.
And in the ensuing struggle, there were two episodes of time, very, very brief, in which I saw what I took to be a white female in a broad floppy hat with stringy blond hair. And I heard her say, Acid is groovy. Kill the pigs. I heard her say that more than once, and also the term "acid" and "rain." It was raining outside at the time.
But as I awakened on the couch, I didn't know what was going on. I heard my wife, I heard my daughter, and I saw these people, and I either said -- and I to this day don't know if I said it or thought I was going to say it -- you know, What the hell are you doing here? Who are you? What's going on? And the black male to the left raised something, and he swung a club at me. And I threw my hand up, and he hit me in the head with the club, which I took to be a baseball bat. He drove me back to the couch that I was sleeping on.
And I -- now my head was ringing, and I -- I was having a hard time getting up. And my -- the comforter was still over my legs and -- but I pushed back up and I'm trying to -- and I was getting struck in the chest and about the head. And I threw my hand up again and took another blow to the side of the head. And during this time, I suddenly developed a real severe chest pain, and I remember real distinctly thinking to myself, This guy throws a hell of a punch. And I presume that was the stab wound that collapsed my lung.
KING: Is your wife still screaming, or has that stopped?
MACDONALD: I don't know. I don't know when it stopped. I heard her, and the voice rings in my ears to this day, so I don't know when it stopped.
KING: So you're now cut and hit, and you're lying on the couch?
MACDONALD: I didn't know I was being cut. I was -- all of a sudden, in this struggle, I'm trying to push these people away and get up at the same time. I finally got my left leg on the floor and that gave me a little leverage, and I started to move forward. And I finally grabbed the black male's arm as he swung it, and he kept jerking his arm away to pull the weapon away, and my hand kept sliding down on the weapon, which is how I know it was a baseball bat, because it was smooth.
KING: Who called the -- and then they left?
MACDONALD: Well, the next thing I knew, I was tumbling towards the floor, and I saw the bare knee of what I took to be this white female, and I saw the top of boots. At the time, they were called go- go boots. They were light in color and they were glistening like they were wet. When I came to, the house was silent. And my first memory, as strange as it sounds, is the smell of Johnson's floor wax. My face was on the floor, and to this day, if I walk in a room that's recently waxed, I get a very weird feeling because...
KING: Did you call the MPs or the police or...
MACDONALD: When I went down into the master bedroom and found my wife brutally murdered, I tried to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. It didn't work. And eventually, I made my way to two other bedrooms and found my children in the same state. I called the MPs. The first operator wanted to find out some information about was it on post or off post and my Social Security number. And I dropped the phone and went back to my wife again. Eventually, I picked up the phone again and now a military policeman was on.
KING: We'll be right back with more of this incredible saga. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Army investigated MacDonald for the murder of his family, then released him. The story might have ended there, except for MacDonald's in-laws, Mildred and Freddy Kassab. They believe MacDonald killed Colette and the kids, and that belief became an obsession.
FRED KASSAB, MACDONALD'S FORMER FATHER-IN-LAW: No one should be able to commit three murders, be found guilty, and through a technicality of some kind, be allowed to...
KING: I'm Larry King on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE at federal correctional institute in Cumberland, Maryland, talking with Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, who has served now -- how long have you been here?
MACDONALD: Twenty-three years.
KING: Not here twenty-three years, but...
MACDONALD: In the federal prison twenty-three years.
KING: You were treated at a hospital?
MACDONALD: I was brought to the hospital.
KING: You must have been panicked. You must have insane. You must have been out of your mind.
MACDONALD: Larry, my first memory of coming to, my first really clear memory was an MP was giving me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. And there was a circle of military helmets above me. That's all I could see. And I kept pushing this guy away. He was giving me mouth- to-mouth resuscitation, and he kept saying, Lie still. And I lay back to lay still for a second, and I was laying next to my wife, partially on my wife.
KING: They moved you, or you had -- you were there when they came?
MACDONALD: I was there when they came in, according Sergeant Mica, who was the first arriving MP. And he asked me what happened, and I kept saying, Check the kids, check the kids. I heard Kimmy screaming. And he said, We're checking the kids. We're checking the kids. What happened? And I gave him a description of the people I saw, as best I could.
KING: At the hospital, your condition was what?
MACDONALD: They put me into intensive care. They put in two chest tubes to reinflate my lung. I had about 15 to 17 puncture wounds. Some were ice-pick wounds, some were stab wounds. There was about a three-inch laceration into the stomach muscles, where the muscle was visible through the...
KING: How about the hit on the head?
MACDONALD: There were several hits to the head. There was a hit on the right side in the hairline, on the left side in the hairline and several behind the left side of my head.
KING: How long were you hospitalized?
MACDONALD: Nine days.
KING: All right. Now, you get out. There's an investigation, right?
KING: And no charges are brought against you. Is that correct? I'm trying to recap this.
MACDONALD: What happened was, six weeks after this, I went into the CID office, the Criminal Investigation Division office, asking for progress on the case. I had barely been interviewed in the hospital -- three very brief segments, about 15 minutes.
KING: This is an Army investigation, right? MACDONALD: This is an Army investigation, which turns out, Larry, to be crucial. It turns out that there was a turf war. The FBI was brought on post that morning because of the sighting of people who were assumed to be civilians. It was not an Army matter, pure and simple, but the Army kept control of it.
KING: So civilians did it, it's an FBI matter?
MACDONALD: Even though it's on an Army post, if civilians are involved, it's federal property, and the FBI has jurisdiction. The FBI tried to take jurisdiction and was kept out. They were -- eight days later, they were told, Pack your bags. It's our case.
KING: And what were you told about the progress?
MACDONALD: I was told nothing until six weeks later, when they questioned me as the main suspect. I went in to ask them questions, and they ended up grilling me for about six hours.
KING: Why? Why were you a suspect? Which you must have asked. I mean, you're a victim. You're lying there. You've got all these injuries. Why are they talking to you?
MACDONALD: Larry, this is the $64 million question. We have been told by many homicide detectives, and one in particular from the New York homicide department, who said that any gumshoes in any big city could have solved this crime in two to three days, or at least a week or two of hard investigation. We know now a real investigation never took place because the arriving CID agents that morning, 7:00 AM that morning, had not talked to a single witness, had not interviewed anyone, including me, and made a decision.
KING: But there were no witnesses.
MACDONALD: There were witnesses.
MACDONALD: There were witnesses in the neighborhood who saw these people...
KING: Oh, I see.
MACDONALD: ... coming to the house, leaving the house. They saw...
KING: No witnesses to the crime.
MACDONALD: The people who were in that house were witnesses to the crime.
KING: They're the committers of the crime. MACDONALD: Three of them admitted their guilt. Larry, there's no mystery what happened in the house that night. Three of the people have admitted their guilt to other people.
KING: Since your trial? Since later, or...
MACDONALD: Yes. Correct.
KING: Why, then, are you in prison?
MACDONALD: Because a very young, and I think scared and incompetent, CID agent by the name of William Ivory made a decision, and he told his boss that this was an Army matter, it looked like a homicide and a failed suicide, my wounds supposedly being a failed suicide. And they never investigated this case as though there were outside assailants.
KING: Where are the three people who confessed? I mean, why...
MACDONALD: One is living in Florida. She has been interviewed several times by the FBI.
KING: Did she recant the confession?
MACDONALD: She never recanted the confession. And the judge in North Carolina does not want to hear about her confessions because there are some discrepancies. Some of the facts in her confession don't match...
KING: The scene?
MACDONALD: The scene.
KING: So they doubt her.
MACDONALD: So they doubt her.
KING: How about the other two?
MACDONALD: The other two are dead. They died mysteriously in the '80s, both of them within two weeks of having been visited by the FBI.
KING: But no charges were brought against you, correct? You were questioned, but you were never indicted, or were you?
MACDONALD: I underwent a lengthy Article 32 hearing in the Army, which is the equivalent of a grand jury. It was the longest one ever held up until that time, until the My Lai incident. And the charges against me were found to be not true. It is not that there was not enough evidence to push this to court martial. We have the findings. We have the reports.
KING: In which they exonerate you.
MACDONALD: Totally exonerate me. The charges are not true. KING: So you're free.
MACDONALD: I'm free.
KING: OK. Do you continue to serve at Fort Bragg?
MACDONALD: Very briefly. I got an honorable discharge, and eventually, in the next year, moved to California to begin practicing emergency medicine.
KING: Emergency medicine?
KING: Working in an emergency room in the hospital.
KING: OK. Your father-in-law...
KING: ... who becomes the crux of all this, the crux of the book "Fatal Vision" and the movie, who loved you, who was close to you, who was the stepfather of your wife, right...
KING: He turns on you.
KING: Because of an appearance on Dick Cavett or because you told him you'd taken care of -- give me -- what happened between you and your father-in-law?
MACDONALD: Well, there are two versions. There's one that is documented in facts and records, and that is that when I moved to California, his wife, my mother-in-law, and my father-in-law threatened me. They said, You're abandoning us. You're abandoning the family. I said, Look, the tragedy has destroyed me and my life. I've lost Colette, Kim and Kris forever. I'm going to try to rebuild my life. They said, If you move to California, you will live to regret it. You're abandoning us. I said, I'm not -- this is in front of witnesses. There's other people who were at this meeting. But what Mr. Kassab said...
KING: That was his name?
MACDONALD: That was his name. Alfred and Mildred Kassab were my in-laws.
KING: They're both gone now.
MACDONALD: They're both gone, and they have passed away in the '90s. What they said years later was that a lie that I did, in fact, tell Alfred, tell Freddy, which he knew at the time wasn't really true -- he said that is what changed his view of me. It's not true...
KING: Not the Dick Cavett interview?
MACDONALD: Not the Dick Cavett interview. He also claims, years later, that the Dick Cavett interview was a surprise to him. In fact, Freddy Kassab helped set up the Dick Cavett interview. Allard Lowenstein, congressman from New York...
MACDONALD: ... and Alfred Kassab set up my interview on Dick Cavett. Years later, when Freddy changed his tack on this case and had become his...
KING: Obsessed with you.
MACDONALD: ... obsessed, and obsessed with publicity and being in front of the case -- and, very important you understand this, he was wined and dined very carefully by the CID agents.
KING: Why did they want you?
MACDONALD: I don't know that they wanted me, at first. I think once the investigation started, it becomes a team effort. I don't have major conspiracies in my head. I think it's...
KING: You don't?
MACDONALD: ... very simple. No. I think a bad cop made bad decisions that morning. Then they put me through the Article 32. Then I accused them on the Dick Cavett show of committing perjury under oath, which they did do.
KING: Your mistake was telling your father-in-law that you had the killers taken care of, right, to get him off your back? Is that correct?
MACDONALD: I did say that to him. What I was trying to do was give Mildred and Freddy a little closure. They had...
KING: No, I understand.
MACDONALD: ... shut up their house. They had turned off the lights, literally. They had a life-sized doll dressed in clothes from the kids. And I was trying to give them -- I said, Freddy, look, some of the Green Berets I know and I found this guy. We took care of it. And it was a really bad decision. I shouldn't have said that. But that is not what changed Alfred, Kassab.
KING: We'll be right back with Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald. We're going to talk about that DNA appeal, talk about his marriage. He's married now. Lots more to come. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASSAB: And he told me that he -- and he used the word "we," went out on the town last night, and that he had found one of the murderers and that they had beat the hell out of him and questioned him and ascertained that he, indeed, was in the house that night, and so therefore, he killed him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASSAB: My wife and I both would much rather that it had been drugs, hippies, than the person that Colette loved so much. We would much rather it be perfect strangers. But anybody that is not willing to face facts and the insurmountable evidence involved this case, you'd have to be a complete fool. You'd have to just be an ostrich and stick your head in the sand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald. We're at federal correctional institute in Cumberland, Maryland. By the way, at the end of the program tonight, the last five or six minutes, we'll be talking with Kathryn MacDonald, his new wife.
OK, you finally -- when you go to trial, when they finally bring you to trial nine years later, after the crime...
KING: ... you ask Joe McGinniss, the writer...
KING: ... to be a part of -- you open access to the defense team?
KING: And he can cover the case.
KING: And you get a promise from him that he would what?
MACDONALD: Tell the truth.
KING: Tell the truth. Halfway through the trial, he says he becomes convinced of your guilt and he writes "Fatal Vision," Right?
MACDONALD: Well, he says different things at different times. He said to newsmen that he became convinced during the trial. He said to his wife it was a year-and-a-half later, and he said to the federal jury, when I sued him and won on a civil lawsuit against Joe McGinniss -- he said that he was agonizing for four years, as he went through, you know, the documents of the case and struggled with this very difficult decision. I don't know when he came to his decision.
KING: You won the lawsuit based on what? He missed... MACDONALD: That he did not tell the truth. He committed fraud.
KING: And then "The New Yorker" did a serious article attacking him.
MACDONALD: Yes. Janet Malcolm (ph) wrote a very long article on the relationship between a subject and a...
KING: You were convicted, a seven-week trial in 1979, but the U.S. Court Of appeals a year later reverses and frees you.
KING: Reversed on what count?
MACDONALD: Speedy trial. I won two different speedy trial appeals. Both were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Until my case came up, the U.S. Supreme Court had...
KING: The prosecution appealed the court of appeals ruling in your favor...
KING: ... to the Supreme Court.
MACDONALD: Yes. And the Supreme Court reinstated the conviction. They said that the years 1970 to 1975 didn't count towards speedy trial because I wasn't indictment from a federal grand jury.
KING: What did you do that year you were out?
MACDONALD: I practiced medicine in Long Beach. I was -- I'm an emergency physician. I had a circle of friends and my family and I practiced medicine at St. Mary Medical Center.
KING: They just came and rearrested you and brought you back to prison.
MACDONALD: March 31, 1982.
KING: Were you shocked at the Supreme Court?
MACDONALD: Shocked is beyond words. I had been out for about 18 months. I was back in practice. Again, I had a circle of friends. I was planning a life. I had moved my mother to the Long Beach area. She was very ill. And I was awakened at 7:00 AM in the morning with a call from the hospital, saying the FBI is here.
KING: The prosecution's contention, then, is that you harmed yourself in order to pull this crime off. As a surgeon, you would know where to inflict yourself...
MACDONALD: Well, they changed their story. Sometimes they say Colette must have injured me. Colette never injured me. We never had a fight. We never had a struggle.
KING: What was the motive?
MACDONALD: There is no motive, Larry.
KING: They never showed a motive?
MACDONALD: There never has been a motive.
KING: Did they not introduce testimony from people that you tended to be raged, that you could quickly react with a bad temper? Was that introduced?
MACDONALD: It's an excellent...
KING: I'm working from memory here.
MACDONALD: It's an excellent question. It was not introduced. It never happened. What you're referring to is what I've been facing for 33 years, and that's the legends of the case. What you're referring to is what Joe McGinniss said. Joe McGinniss made up some hypotheticals involving rage, put them in a book, and I've been paying for it ever since.
KING: He made it as hypothetical...
KING: You mean to find a reason, then, for why you killed them.
MACDONALD: What if? What if?
KING: I see.
MACDONALD: OK? Everyone who's ever been to our house at Fort Bragg, every person who's ever known us has testified. I have seen every statement. There are no people who say that Jeffrey MacDonald has rages. I was practicing emergency medicine in a traumatic environment for 12 years. I've been in prison for 23.
KING: Now, another thing seems to -- did you have affairs?
MACDONALD: Yes. I had what were then known as one-night stands. I was not proud of it. I never lied about it. They asked me and I told them.
KING: Do you see any connection with the case now in northern California that Mr. Peterson faces?
KING: Murdering his pregnant wife, and learning of affairs later.
MACDONALD: Well, first of all, I never had an affair. I had, again, what were called one-night stands. I'm not proud of that. I'm just saying there's a different. I didn't have a secret girlfriend anywhere or anything like that. So that's a huge difference. Secondly, I am the one who wants all the evidence in this case out. It's the government that's always trying to say, You can't put that in front of a judge or a jury. That's not the case in other cases.
I want all the evidence out. I want all the fibers, all the blood spots, all the hairs, all the witnesses because the evidence is crystal clear, Larry. There's no mistake anymore. Both sides know what happened.
KING: Are you saying that if you had never moved to California, the Kassab -- that never would have happened to you?
KING: Kassab would...
MACDONALD: That's correct.
KING: He just wanted his son-in-law to stay close.
MACDONALD: It wasn't only a matter of stay close. It was to work with him. He wanted to become the private investigator.
KING: He was mercurial...
MACDONALD: Yes. Extremely. He's Middle Eastern descent. He had a fanatical bent. My lawyer told me in 1970, Be very careful of Freddy. I said, Why? He's my father-in-law. He's defending me. He said, Yes, but he doesn't base it on facts. He bases it on unreasonable statements, and then he's very fanatical about that unreasonable statement. And if he ever turns on you, you're in trouble. And that is exactly what happened. He turned on me. He wanted me to play a game with him. This is not a game. I lost Colette, Kim and Kris. That's not a game! You don't walk into a bar and say, Hey, Joe. It's not like TV.
KING: When the book came out, were you shocked when you read it?
MACDONALD: I -- I presume you mean the book by the Joe McGinniss.
MACDONALD: I was devastated. It was...
KING: Because you had an agreement with him.
MACDONALD: I had an agreement to tell the truth. It was our last hope. He was telling my mother, who was dying, Relax, Perry (ph). Have a glass of wine. This book is going to knock their socks off. This is going to free your son. And he came out with this trash novel masquerading as nonfiction. It was horrible. Since then, fortunately, a real book has come out.
KING: Now, who wrote that? MACDONALD: "Fatal Justice." Jerry Potter (ph) and Fred Bost (ph).
KING: Where did you read "Fatal Vision"? Were you in prison?
MACDONALD: I was in prison in Bastrup (ph), Texas. And Larry, I was nauseated, literally nauseated for six months. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. My lawyers -- we were getting ready for an appeal. We stopped work on the appeal, which was to be filed in 30 days, and we spent three-and-a-half weeks researching the falsities in that book because "60 Minutes" was coming out with a show backing the book.
KING: And then, of course, the television movie.
MACDONALD: Exactly. A year later.
KING: Who played you? I forget.
MACDONALD: Gary Cole (ph).
KING: We'll be right back with more of Dr. MacDonald. We'll talk about the DNA question and the marriage right after this.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard my daughter Kimberly crying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Daddy! Daddy!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy. Daddy, daddy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Daddy!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where was your pajama top at this time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't -- it was -- it was around me. Around my arms. I -- I don't know -- I don't know how it got there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Joe McGinniss, author of "Fatal Vision," believes that no one should consider what MacDonald has to say now.
JOE MCGINNISS, AUTHOR, "FATAL VISION": You have to really -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and be willing to, you have to set yourself up for being conned, you know? In order to -- to take the whole MacDonald point of view at this -- at this juncture. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald.
OK, you've lost some appeals?
MACDONALD: Yes. I've lost all my appeals.
KING: There's still one pending on what?
MACDONALD: DNA. In 1997 -- Larry, that's six years ago -- the federal court in Richmond, Virginia, ordered DNA testing in this case. It was the last part of my last appeal.
KING: Because there was no physical evidence of any intruders found in the apartment.
MACDONALD: Not true. That's what the government says. It turns out that once we found 11,000 pages of documents from the government through Freedom of Information Act they knew that assailants had been in the apartment that night.
KING: Then why are you here?
MACDONALD: Because you can't get back in court anymore in this country.
Since 1990, a case came down, McKleski vs. Zant (ph), and what Justice Marshall said in dissent has come true. This case allows the government to be deceitful. What the case said was is if you've already one appeal, you can't have another unless you come up with evidence that could never have been discovered before now.
MACDONALD: That leaves me with DNA.
KING: What can save you now? Is strands of hair? What -- what -- what do your inkling, your wishes -- what can save you vis-a-vis this DNA?
MACDONALD: We found in the government files records that they had taken hairs from under my daughter's fingernails -- they tried to match them against me secretly. They didn't tell us this. They didn't -- they're not my hair. So they hid them. Well, we're trying to get those DNA tested. That's one thing.
There's blood spots that match the blood type of one of the confessors to the crime, Greg Mitchell, Helena Stoeckley's boyfriend. He said he murdered my wife. Helena Stoeckley said she watched him murder my wife. There's blood on Collette's hand that is O. That's Greg Mitchell's blood type.
KING: Why was no attention paid to this? I know that you said they discounted the female suspect.
MACDONALD: It was hidden. None of this was known at trial. And I have not been able to go back in front of a judge or a jury.
The government has been clever. What they did was, they doled out the FOIA over 12 years. Every time we found some FOIA, we'd filed appeal. And they'd say, That's not enough.
KING: Is there a chance they're going to look at this DNA?
MACDONALD: They are looking at the DNA.
MACDONALD: The judge ordered them to look at the DNA. Now that was six years ago.
KING: So what's -- what's taken six years?
MACDONALD: It takes about four months, to the best of our knowledge. We've been fighting with the government prosecutor to get this -- these laboratory exhibits tested. Finally, the judge ordered 15 of the 50 that we wanted tested.
KING: These are hairs, right?
MACDONALD: Hairs and some blood spots. We are now waiting almost four years for the results of these...
KING: What did they tell your lawyer when he calls?
MACDONALD: They say that the latest lab tech left the lab. They say that 9/11 intruded. And I understand that. I'm not saying I came in front of 9/11. But three different times now they've been seemingly getting tests done on a rapid basis and all of a sudden the lab tech is gone.
KING: Is it a new prosecutor at this point?
MACDONALD: No. It's the same prosecutor.
KING: Still the same guy?
MACDONALD: Same man.
KING: Of course, you would think that know one wants to see an innocent man in prison.
MACDONALD: You would think that. But as Barry Schenck has shown in his Innocence Project, even when he has DNA proof that a rape or a rape murder was not committed by the person in prison, the prosecutor doesn't care. The prosecutor says, We still think we have the right man.
KING: Have you contacted Schenck?
MACDONALD: Yes. He is our DNA expert.
KING: Oh, he is? MACDONALD: Barry Schenck is my DNA expert at this point, along with my attorneys in Boston -- Bill Cormeir (ph), Harvey Silverblake (ph) and Andy Goode (ph). So that's the four that are working now to free me.
KING: Are you optimistic?
MACDONALD: I'm optimistic if the tests are done legitimately, yes. There is no way that those people were in that house and didn't leave evidence. And the government record shows the evidence. It shows wig fibers from Helena Stoeckley's wig. It shows brown hair in my wife's hand that was -- secretly tried to match me.
KING: You're saying the government knew this?
MACDONALD: Knew it.
KING: And still went ahead.
MACDONALD: Still went ahead and prosecuted me.
KING: All right. Now why would anybody want to knowingly send an innocent man to prison? Knowingly.
MACDONALD: You'd have to ask prosecutors that.
KING: I can see a prosecutor making a mistake.
KING: And some have admitted, A man is charged with rape and a wrong I.D. and then the prosecutor has admitted. Why would he wan -- sees it front of him -- why you? He didn't know you personally. Why you?
MACDONALD: They take the case from the investigator and they begin shaping it. They start dropping off things that don't fit their case.
All of a sudden they realize, Hey, wait a minute. That thing that we just dropped -- that proves that he's innocent.
KING: Aren't -- doesn't the law say they have to give that up?
MACDONALD: They have to give it up. It's exculpatory evidence.
KING: That's correct. Was that the law then?
MACDONALD: That was the law then. They hid it and they got away with in Judge Dupree's (ph) court room in Raleigh, North Carolina. It's very clear what happened in this case.
KING: OK. Presuming everything you say is correct, what is it like emotionally for you to be innocent and sitting in a prison?
MACDONALD: Well, it's devastating. I mean... KING: I mean, what are your days like? What do you do?
MACDONALD: The most difficult thing to get across, Larry, is the feeling of helplessness. It's like you're fighting this unseen force and this mass. And no matter how many times you throw punches, you never get a win. No matter what evidence we come up with, they just change the ground rules a little bit.
Judge Dupree said in 1983, you have now evidence that Helena Stoeckley was inside the apartment. In 1990, we had the evidence. We had the wig hairs and we had black fibers that the Army found from her garments in that house. And the judge said, You know what? You found it too late. McKleski just came down. The case McKleski, and you found this -- you should have found this in the '80s. This is now on your lawyers. It's your lawyers' fault that you didn't win. This is when the evidence was hidden in the prosecution files.
Larry, we filed 28 consecutive motions to get those handwritten notes that showed this material. Every single one, zero for 28, were denied by the judge. The government filed seven motions. They got six of them. Now, a utility infielder gets a hit once a season. I had good attorneys and we had the truth on our side. We were zero for 28. I had no defense at trial.
KING: What's at the apartment now?
MACDONALD: The apartment now has been revamped. They torn out the walls, flooring and redone it.
KING: So there's nothing there now?
MACDONALD: Nothing there. It was kept for about 15 years, and then when we wanted entry, when the defense finally was close to getting an order from a judge to go into that apartment, they wrecked (ph) it.
KING: All right, now back to motive. Why would these four people come to you? What do they have against you?
MACDONALD: Well, I can tell you what they have said. They've said that...
KING: The people who confessed but were not listened to?
MACDONALD: Exactly. Both Helena Stoeckley and now just recently witnesses that have come forward on Greg Mitchell, her boyfriend, have said that they came to that house, not for killing, they came to threaten me because I had somehow developed a reputation as being a hard-liner on drugs, on heroine addicts coming back from Vietnam. In fact, that wasn't true, but I did have that reputation on post.
KING: Why did they kill, why did they kill them?
MACDONALD: Because of the amount of drugs they were on. Both of them have said and other people in their group have said...
KING: They were high.
MACDONALD: They were so high on five different drugs, they were on barbiturates, they were on LSD, they were on heroine, they were on opium and they were on -- one more, which escapes me at the moment.
KING: We're talking with Captain Jeffrey MacDonald, Dr. MacDonald, Green Beret. When we come back, we'll ask about the new life he has despite being in prison, he is now married and then later we'll talk with the wife. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shortly before MacDonald's trial in 1979, defense attorneys had six days to examine the crime scene evidence. They say the contradicting lab reports were hidden like a needle in a haystack, but Jim Blackburn says prosecutors withheld nothing.
JAMES BLACKBURN, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Information and material which we were lawfully required to give to them, you had better believe that we did so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, former captain in the United States Army, Green Beret. Did you serve in Vietnam, by the way?
MACDONALD: No. No, I did not. I served in the United States.
KING: How did you and Kathryn get together? How does someone get married when they're in prison?
MACDONALD: Well, it's difficult. And it was a very tough decision for us.
KING: How did you meet?
MACDONALD: Well, I knew her very briefly in the late '70s. She was appearing on a show and I was taking a course at Johns Hopkins as a matter of fact...
KING: It was on television, then?
MACDONALD: No, no, no, no. She was in theater.
MACDONALD: Theatrical production, and we met very briefly. There was, you know, not even dating. Nothing like that. We reconnected in the late '90s.
KING: She wrote to you, or?
MACDONALD: She wrote to me, but we were having discussions because her mom was very ill.
KING: And you called her?
MACDONALD: I eventually called her, yes. The first communication back then in '97 was a letter. And we began talking again. And we began writing, and then she began visiting, and, you know, after you finally meet someone who helps you get over 33 years of this and wrestling with not having been good enough to save your family. We just connected. She's a wonderful person. And she allowed me to move on with my life.
KING: You got moved here to be closer to her, right?
MACDONALD: I got moved to Maryland. It was a long battle.
KING: She lives in Washington?
MACDONALD: She lives in -- near Baltimore.
KING: So you made a request to be moved from Victorville to here?
MACDONALD: After we were married, yes. We got married first.
KING: How were you married when you were in prison? How did they do that?
MACDONALD: In a legal room off the visiting room.
KING: The bride comes?
MACDONALD: Yes. Yes.
KING: And someone comes and officiates?
MACDONALD: Yes. You have to get your own officiant. We had a...
KING: No conjugal visits allowed?
MACDONALD: Oh, no. No, no, no. Nothing like that. The VOP (ph) does not allow that.
KING: Some prisons do, right? I think in Mississippi...
MACDONALD: State prisons.
KING: State prisons.
MACDONALD: State prisons.
KING: No federal?
MACDONALD: No federal prisons.
KING: What's that like for you? MACDONALD: Well, it's interesting, Larry, because most people get to know each other and there's a physical attraction, and they know each other physically before they really develop any kind of an emotional bond. When you meet someone and then you meet them again later in life, and I'm incarcerated and she's not, it's almost all emotional. And what you find out is it's very intense, but it's different. It doesn't have the day-to-day physical pleasures. It doesn't -- you can't come home at night and have her cook dinner and you can't surprise her with a gift.
But what you do is you share everything on a very deep emotional basis. You talk. I've asked my best friends, what's the longest talk you ever had with your wife? They'll say an hour. A car ride. And I'll say, have you ever talked to your wife six hours with no TV, no radio, no books, no one else in the room, just you and her talking for six hours? They say, no, I've never done that. I do that every weekend. Every weekend. I see Kathryn. And we share everything. Her life...
KING: You can touch, right? Or can you touch?
MACDONALD: Very minimally.
KING: I can touch you now.
MACDONALD: Yes, like that. Yes. It's very minimal. It's very above board. We sit across from each other and we chat. But we can -- you know, I can hug her at greeting and upon leaving.
KING: We'll talk to her in a couple of minutes. Do you think you're going to get out?
MACDONALD: Yes, I do. It's been a struggle, Larry. I have to say that, you know, our energies flag now and then. It's been a 33- year struggle to prove my innocence, and it's been 23 years in prison for charges against crimes that I never committed. And the prosecutor knows I didn't commit them. So, it's a real struggle, and there have been some down moments, but I'll tell you, I'm re-energized, I think the DNA has great possibilities for me. There are new witnesses still coming forward.
KING: What keeps you going? That?
MACDONALD: I think the -- the need to hold my head up -- and now, Larry, in all honesty, I think that, you know, I really have to be with my wife. I have to leave her. I can hold my head up again and say not only have I been saying I'm innocent, but finally the courts have said the right thing, and I can go on about my life and rebuild my life.
KING: Do you think of your wife and children? Because I noticed during this interview, whenever you mention it, it's very hard for you. Do you think of them a lot?
MACDONALD: I do. And the great thing about Kathryn is she allows that. And she encourages that. And it's made a real difference in my healing.
KING: What do you do with the loneliness here? I mean, life...
KING: Do you practice medicine at all?
MACDONALD: No. It's not allowed in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Inmate cannot practice either dentistry or medicine. I study my medical books, so I'm still up to date. I know everything.
KING: You could practice tomorrow?
MACDONALD: I could practice tomorrow. I mean, I'm sure they would have to give me a test and I'd be happy to take it, but I could practice tomorrow. I work on the case. I study my medicine. I work hard on staying physically fit, because I think it helps me stay mentally fit. And I communicate.
KING: Do you have a job here?
MACDONALD: Yeah. I have a job. Every prisoner has a job. You have to have a job. It's menial tasks, and I do it with good spirits and get it out of the way and then I go take care of my case and my wife and my communications.
KING: You have a lot of friends here?
MACDONALD: Friends in a guarded fashion. There's two people that I spend considerable time with in here and we walk the track together or run the track together. Friends in prison come and go. You know? It's a different thing than friends out on the street. I have two good friends in here.
KING: Good luck, Jeff.
MACDONALD: Thank you. I appreciate it.
KING: Captain Jeffrey MacDonald, Dr. MacDonald here at the federal correctional institute in Cumberland, Maryland.
When we come back, we'll talk with his wife, Kathryn.
KING: Welcome back to our remaining moments on LARRY KING. And as promised, Kathryn MacDonald joins us from Washington. She married Jeffrey MacDonald in 2002. And knew him long before that. What made you contact him again?
KATHRYN MACDONALD, JEFFREY MACDONALD'S WIFE: Well, Mr. King, I found out through reading the book "Fatal Justice" that Jeff was still in prison, and it never occurred to me that he'd still be in prison at that late time. I expected the case to be overturned way long before that. And so, when that didn't happen, I contacted him and asked how I could help, write letters or like that, and we sort of developed a friendship at that point that became much closer.
K. MACDONALD: Yes, at the time, my mother became ill. He helped me a great deal. And it was a very -- it was a big turning point in our relationship, yes.
KING: You said you thought he had been released long before that. Did you always believe him innocent?
K. MACDONALD: Oh, yes. I always believed that, even before I knew all the facts of the case, which I do know now, so yes.
KING: What prompts your faith so much in him?
K. MACDONALD: Well, over a period of seven or eight years here, I have come to know him as a man and as a person. I know he's been much maligned and it's not correct, and it's not just my personal feelings, but knowing the facts of the case. There's no mistaking it. It's intrinsic in my thinking.
KING: By the way, we contacted the Justice Department to see if they had any comment on the case. We got this statement from Mark Carola (ph), the director of public affairs. "DNA testing is not complete. Litigation is still pending. It would be inappropriate for the Justice Department to comment outside of court." But they still haven't finished their DNA testing. Does that surprise you?
K. MACDONALD: Well, we had hoped the DNA would be done quite a long time ago, but I in some ways I'm not surprised, because nothing in this case seems to go the way it does in other cases, and when you live it day to day the way I do with Jeff, you have a whole different perspective, and, you know, a friend of ours who's very bright said recently, it's really stuck in my mind, "one way to hide a very grave injustice is to hide it in plain sight." And this injustice is so blatant and so obvious that you can put it out there and it's easier for people to believe that someone who had no history of violence just went berserk for five minutes, never to be seen before or again in 23 years of incarceration, than it is to believe that government officials don't tell the truth, or that people lie and it's not the person in prison who's lying.
KING: What is it like for you, Kathryn, to be married to someone who you might never sleep with, possibly?
K. MACDONALD: Well, I think that you marry someone for better or for worse, and you don't know what that worse might be. You know? In our situation, we know what that worse is. We're living it now. It's very grueling, it's very difficult. But it's worth it because of the person that I know who's earned my respect and my trust. And I'll never waiver.
KING: Do you believe he's going to be freed?
K. MACDONALD: I certainly do. Yes, I do. I believe the truth has a way of finding its way out, and I believe that with all my heart, and in the meantime, we just try to take our happiness where we can every day.
KING: Well, you're quite a lady. And I know you're going to see him this weekend. Thanks, Kathryn.
K. MACDONALD: Thank you very much for your time, sir.
KING: Kathryn MacDonald, who married Jeffrey MacDonald in 2002.
Hope you enjoyed this hour. I found it fascinating. We have an exclusive Monday night. Michael Schiavo, the husband of the woman whose feeding tube was inserted back in by orders of Governor Jeb Bush in Florida. She is in that vegetative state. The husband who wanted the tube removed will be with us exclusively Monday night, 9:00 Eastern on LARRY KING LIVE. "NEWSNIGHT" is next. Good night.
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