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Nancy Grace

Do new DNA results in the Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald case finally put the triple murder mystery to rest? Elderly Woman Accused of Killing her Husband.

Aired March 14, 2006 - 20:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, blockbuster development in the murder case of army doctor Jeff MacDonald, MacDonald the inspiration for the movie hit "Fatal Vision," accused of stabbing his wife and two daughters to death. Will DNA results finally put the triple murder mystery to rest?
And tonight, to Vermont, a 73-year-old woman in a court of law, accused of killing her 78-year-old husband in the front yard!

Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. Tonight: Till death do us part has a brand-new meaning for an elderly Vermont couple, a 73-year-old woman on trial tonight for the bludgeoning death of her own 78-year-old husband. Golden years, bye-bye!

But first, three decades after Army doctor Jeff MacDonald accused of murdering his wife and daughters, claims he is innocent. That`s right, three decades later. MacDonald has always maintained "crazy hippies" are the real killers.


JEFFREY MACDONALD, CONVICTED OF MURDERING WIFE AND DAUGHTERS: I heard my wife screaming. I heard my oldest daughter, Kimberly, screaming at the same time, and I simultaneously saw what initially I thought was three people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Among the so-called hippie intruders, a woman in a floppy hat and blond wig.

MACDONALD: And she was saying, Acid is groovy. Kill the pig.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Honus Stockway (ph), a known drug addict, came forth soon after the murders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And when we were in the living room, I just screamed, Acid is groovy. Kill the pig. Hit him again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But jurors discounted her testimony and convicted MacDonald in 1979. He`s serving three consecutive life terms.


GRACE: This has been a point of contention for Lady Justice for nearly three decades. An Army doctor has always maintained his innocence in the murder of his wife and two little girls. Finally, the DNA he requested, that he said would exonerate him, has come back.

Back to Matthew Eisley, senior reporter with "The News and Observer." Bring us up to date, friend.

MATTHEW EISLEY, "THE NEWS AND OBSERVER": Nancy, good evening. A couple developments in the case. This week, of course, the DNA testing is back, and it`s a bit of a mixed bag. It shows that some of the hair that was found on Colette`s (ph) body does match Dr. MacDonald, but also, there`s hair under the fingernail of one the girls that doesn`t match anyone. So in this case, we`ve got the lawyers on both sides claiming that the results help them.

GRACE: Wa-wa-wa-wait. Wa-wait. Let me get something straight, Matthew. In the dead woman`s hand...

EISLEY: In or on.

GRACE: ... is his hair.

EISLEY: Right.

GRACE: His limb hair. That`s what he wanted tested! That`s what he said 30 years ago would conclusively prove somebody else killed his wife, but it`s his hair!

EISLEY: That one is. There`s other hair that`s not, but that one`s his, it turns out.

GRACE: Well, the other hair on the little -- in the little girl`s fingernail.

I want to go straight out to Dr. Jonathan Arden, medical examiner. What do you make, Dr. Arden, of one of the little girls having an unknown hair? As you know, MacDonald, an Army doctor, long blamed "crazy hippies" for the mass murders. There was no robbery. There was no rape. There was no burglary, nothing. But he said "crazy hippies" killed his wife and two little girls.

Now, what do you make of this unknown hair? It doesn`t match any of the so-called "crazy hippies." They`re both dead. But their DNA has been compared, and it`s not them.

DR. JONATHAN ARDEN, MEDICAL EXAMINER: I think you`ve just hit on the most important thing here, Nancy. In order for the hair and the DNA from the hair to mean something, it has to match somebody. If you have several people that he claims were the suspects or the alleged killers and it doesn`t match them, then there`s no evidence therefore to link them to the killings.

So somebody else`s hair was in the scene or possibly grabbed by the child. Is it a hair from another assailant that we don`t know about? Is it a hair that was simply at the location? Because there will be foreign hairs from the people who come and go in the house, the people who clean the house, the people who bring hairs on their clothing dropped in the house. I`m afraid this doesn`t really prove anything. It certainly doesn`t exonerate him.

GRACE: Well, I can tell you one thing, Dr. Arden, having his hair in her hand, a woman that was brutally stabbed multiple times, speaks volumes to me! Now, the other hair would either indicate that the little girl had come in contact with someone else in the home, something else in the home. It`s my understanding this was an apartment, wasn`t it, Matthew Eisley?

EISLEY: Right.

GRACE: Where many other people had lived, had come and gone. I don`t know if they had a washer and dryer in the apartment, if they used a laundry, which could also explain foreign hairs. But I know this, the hair in the dead woman`s hand belongs to this Army doctor! Take a listen to what MacDonald had to say.


MACDONALD: I did some reading on the couch, and when I got 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.

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. My wife was saying, Jeff, Jeff, why are they doing this? Help, Jeff. 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 sergeant`s 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.


GRACE: To David Foley, defense attorney. You`re kidding me. Acid is groovy. Kill the pigs? That`s what he heard her say?

DAVE FOLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: See, this is 1970. We`ve got to go back to that time and place. And also, given this DNA evidence that`s come up that cannot be attributed to Mr. MacDonald or anyone else...

GRACE: Well, why are you saying that? Why are you saying that? The hair in her hand belongs to him.

FOLEY: Yes, but what you alluded to before, the idea that this is a small apartment -- they slept in the same bed, talked about doing the laundry and that. So it would not be that unusual to find her hair -- his hair on her.


FOLEY: So...

GRACE: In her hand, in her dying hand, as somebody is stabbing her to death, you think there was some kind of innocent transfer maybe on the sheet or something? OK, I`ll keep that in mind.

I want to go back to Dr. Arden. Dr. Arden, have you seen -- I wish I could show them on air, but I can`t. They`re too graphic -- the autopsy photos, but specifically the photos of Jeffrey MacDonald`s wound? Did you see that? His wife has multiple stab wounds. His daughters have multiple stab wounds, all over their chest and head. Hello! He`s got one stab wound!

I don`t know if you can pan down, Elizabeth, but it`s right in the front of the chest, right here. It says on the side, but I`m looking at it. It is right at the bottom rib in the front, between the front of you and under your armpit. Please! It`s so obviously self-inflicted, Dr. Arden! Why were they gruesomely, repeatedly stabbed to death, and this guy gets one puncture to the lung -- to the lung right under the chest?

ARDEN: Well, of course, that`s a great question, Nancy, and that`s what people have been asking for now 30 years. A lot of this doesn`t seem to make sense, and that`s one of the aspects that, why would he be spared? He`s the biggest. He`s the strongest. He`s the male figure. Why would people who are going around and being crazed killers leave him alone or not attack him or give him fewer wounds? It really doesn`t add up at all. And now the hair evidence doesn`t prove anything for him, either. I mean, at best, it`s neutral for him. At worst, it`s, as you`ve already indicated, pretty damning for him.

GRACE: To Pat Lalama, investigative reporter. For those just joining us, this has been an ongoing saga for 30 years. It has sucked up millions of dollars of the state`s money. This is a mass murder. Dr. MacDonald has always claimed his innocence, and he has quite a following. But you know, as Oscar Wilde said, Pat Lalama, be careful what you ask, my dear, for you will surely get it!


GRACE: He has screamed to the mountaintops, I want that DNA test of the hair. At the time, you couldn`t test limb hair, hair off the limb. The hair in her hand was from an arm or a leg of his, so it couldn`t be done. Well, he finally got it 30 years later. And it`s his!


PAT LALAMA, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, if I might be so bold, this is going to be the unthinkable, Nancy, but I might try to pretend I`m a defense attorney for a second and imagine that I might argue to a jury, Well, you know, if he was trying to save his family, if he was trying to come to their rescue, at one point in her flailing, she might have grabbed him, Oh, honey, oh, honey save me. I mean, it`s the best I can do, all right, as a -- as a...

GRACE: OK. That was terrible.

LALAMA: OK. Nancy, I did it all for you, OK?


LALAMA: I tried, just for the interest of fairness. But you want to know something? I can remember this case. I remember when it happened. I remember everybody was riveted. You know why? The guy was a Princeton grad. He was an Army captain. He had this beautiful family! And let`s not forget, Nancy, his wife was pregnant, two months pregnant with a little baby boy! Every time I see those pictures, I just want to throw up!

And this man has maintained all along he is innocent. And guess what? He just might get another case. There is a judge who has said that he`s going to allow -- he`s going to -- there`s going to be a hearing to talk about a U.S. marshal, deputy marshal, who was in charge of security during the case, who for some reason now is saying, Well, I heard that woman in the flop -- the hippie with the floppy hat, I heard her tell the prosecutor that -- or the prosecutor threatened her. He threatened her.

And so now, all of a sudden, the judge is allowing that, and this new evidence. I mean, here we go again, more taxpayer money! And (INAUDIBLE) what is it, 36 years later? But you know what, Nancy? It`s got that kind of appeal because of who he is. Women loved him. You know, they thought he was interesting. He had groupies in the courtroom.

GRACE: What do you mean, "women loved him"?

LALAMA: He was handsome and all that junk! You know, you`ve seen it, Nancy. You`ve seen these certain defendants where there`s a courtroom full of groupies who said, Oh, it couldn`t be him,~ couldn`t be him!

GRACE: You know what? You need to follow my advice, Pat Lalama. If you`re going to have a man, get an ugly one, all right?



GRACE: Don`t get a pretty one like MacDonald. See? See?

LALAMA: Exactly. Exactly. No, I mean, it`s really -- I get what you`re saying, I mean, but the fact of the matter is, did he allegedly have affairs? There was one -- there was some speculation that he was getting hopped up on his own amphetamines from being an overworked Army doctor. There was another that, you know, he was just overwhelmed and couldn`t bear -- you know, having -- you know, the Scott Peterson sort of argument. He just couldn`t bear it, there was too much going on, too many kids, too much to worry about. No one really knows what the true motive is, if you believe he did it.

GRACE: Well, he`s a doctor. He knows where kids come from.

LALAMA: Absolutely!

GRACE: And he keeps having them.

Take a listen to what Dr. MacDonald had to say in his own defense.


MACDONALD: 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 my 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


GRACE: OK, here we go. He`s blaming an unknown black male. You know, it must be the same black male Susan Smith blamed!

You know, I don`t get it, Dr. Keith Ablow, psychiatrist, that it`s the same old tired thing. We saw it happen down in Aruba, where the two black male security guards were set up to take the fall in Natalee Holloway`s disappearance. We saw it in the Susan Smith case, where her children were drowned by her. And now we see in Dr. Jeff MacDonald. And I find it fantastical that that`s the best he could come up with.

DR. KEITH ABLOW, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, you know, one thing about people who are pathological liars is that they`re not very good at estimating what is going to appeal to us as a story that passes our sniff test. Since they don`t have empathy, they can`t truly come up with a convincing tale. That`s something you saw in the Scott Peterson case, as well. A lot of the times, when he would lie, people would say, It seems so transparent. That`s because he`s guessing at what will be intuitive to us.

One thing you don`t see in Jeffrey MacDonald, by the way, is -- where`s the affect? Where`s the emotion? He says he found his children in a similar state and he called the MPs. Why no tears?

GRACE: You know, Doctor, a question to you. The wife and the two little girls were brutally stabbed. I mean brutal, multiple stabbings. I`ve got right here in my hand proof of his wounds. He`s got a superficial head wound right here. He`s got a superficial scratch on his upper chest. Then he has a chest wound which punctures the lung right around your bottom rib, going in right there. Nothing compared to what the woman and the two female children suffered.

What does it take to actually stab yourself, Doctor?

ABLOW: Well, it could take a desperate desire to not go to jail. It also, however -- and I would venture that in the Charles Stewart case in Boston, in which he had a self-inflicted gunshot wound -- it also takes being at some distance from your own life and emotions. People who do this -- and we assume Jeffrey MacDonald is guilty. He was convicted, and so forth -- are not in touch with their own feelings. That`s why they can`t resonate with the feelings of others. Generally, they`ve been through terrible times themselves in childhood. We won`t get into that for Jeffrey MacDonald. But because of that, they`re able to do these things...

GRACE: Right.

ABLOW: ... self-inflicted wounds. But remember, that`s a clue to what they can do to other people.

GRACE: When we come back, we`re going to be joined by a forensic DNA expert, Dean Wideman, high-profile criminal profiler Pat Brown, and defense attorney Midwin Charles. A real blockbuster in the case of the "Fatal Vision" inspiration, Dr. Jeff MacDonald. For 30 years, he has maintained his innocence. Finally, do we have an answer to the Jeffrey MacDonald mystery?

Very quickly, to tonight`s "Trial Tracker." An Atlanta jury hands down life without parole for multi-millionaire Jim Sullivan, Sullivan convicted of hiring a hitman nearly 20 years ago to murder his much younger wife, Lita Sullivan. During the sentencing hearing, Lita`s family broke down on the stand, describing the intense pain they have suffered for nearly two decades.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time will not allow me to tell you what my family has gone through for the past 19 years. You cannot understand unless you have traveled in my shoes. I dream of Lita often. She is always at a distance. I can see her but never get to her. She is smiling and walking in my direction, and I in hers, but we never reach each other.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On February 17, 1970, Collette, Kimberly and Kristin (ph) MacDonald were viciously clubbed and stabbed to death in their Fort Bragg home. Captain MacDonald came away with only minor wounds, wounds believed to be self-inflicted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pajama top (INAUDIBLE) fibers, knife wounds, the injuries to his family, the non-injuries to MacDonald, the lies, the hypocritical stories that he told, so many things are still there in the evidence, in the trial record, that I think still prove just as conclusively as in 1991 that he is guilty of having destroyed his family.


GRACE: An incredible legal saga that has lasted three decades, draining the taxpayers dry, all the while, Princeton grad Army doctor Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald has maintained his innocence in three murders, the murder of his wife and his two daughters. What is the answer?

Let`s talk about Forensics 101. Does mitochondrial DNA hold the answer? Mitochondrial DNA really didn`t exist at the time of these murders. It`s an analysis that is used in DNA, and very difficult to get.

It`s my understanding -- to Dean Wideman -- that you use the DNA of the mother? Explain to how mitochondrial DNA works, and Dean Wideman, the difference between comparing head hair with limb hair.

DEAN WIDEMAN, FORENSIC/DNA EXPERT: Well, basically, mitochondrial DNA is inherited maternally, so you -- so everyone inherits mitochondrial DNA from their mother. And it`s used in the event of, for example, shed hairs that have no root, root having the nuclear material that we inherit DNA from both parents. So in this case, when they had hair fragments that had no root, they -- that`s why they utilized the mitochondrial DNA on those hairs, including the limb hair.

GRACE: Now, as I recall -- I hate to date myself, but when I was prosecuting, it was -- we couldn`t get a match off of limb hair. Why is that?

WIDEMAN: Well, limb hair has limited microscopic characteristics that don`t enable -- or make it difficult for (INAUDIBLE) -- you know, the traditional way of looking at hairs back in those days was to look at them under a microscope. They have limited characteristics that aren`t as amenable to microscopy, and therefore made it pretty difficult. But nowadays, with DNA technology, especially mitochondrial DNA, it`s pretty easy to get DNA out of those hairs.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Had they lived, Kimberly and Kristin would now be young ladies in their 20s. The third child, a boy, would also have grown up. And Collette perhaps would have ultimately been a grandmother. The strongest thing that I or anybody else can say about this case is that they were not allowed to do that, and they were not allowed to do that because their father took their lives from them.


GRACE: Is justice delayed justice denied? To high-profile criminal profiler Pat Brown. Pat, do you really believe, these many years later, that we can determine who killed Collette and the little girls?

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: I think we could determine that many years ago. I think we can still determine it today. Jeffrey MacDonald has never had anything really to prove that made any sense, so I`m with you.

GRACE: You know, to Midwin Charles, defense attorney -- What`s his strongest defense? I mean, this theory that he was asleep on the sofa and crazy hippies came in and killed his wife?

MIDWIN CHARLES, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Nancy, look, one of the things that you have to realize here with the DNA evidence being found on her body is that this was her husband. There was no reason why his DNA, you know, shouldn`t be on her body. I mean, he`s got quite a few defenses here. It`s possible -- I mean, you mentioned that there were differences in the wounds that were inflicted. It`s possible that the wounds were inflicted first on the wife and the children, and then as the assailants were leaving, they quickly inflicted the wound on him and then left.

GRACE: But for what reason? You said it`s possible, but the law isn`t what is possible, it is what is probable.

CHARLES: Right. Right. You`re absolutely right, Nancy. But in looking at the evidence, in looking at where the bodies were found, it`s the evidence that`s there that you have to look at.

GRACE: Midwin, it`s my contention he has been holding the justice system hostage for 30 years and is sucking up our money! I`ll argue with you in about three minutes. Stay with us.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We went walking inside, and Dr. MacDonald was laying down on the couch. He apparently had been reading something. Jeffrey MacDonald is an innocent man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife and I both would much rather that it had been drugged hippies than the person that Colette loved so much.

JEFFREY MACDONALD, CONVICTED OF MURDER: I did not kill my wife. I did not kill my children. And that`s going to come out in the court of law. And I`m going to walk out of prison with my head held up.


GRACE: A very handsome man, a Princeton graduate, a doctor, for Pete`s sake. No one could believe when Jeffrey MacDonald was charged in the murders of his wife and two little girls.

But then as the defense began to emerge that crazy hippies came into the home -- there was no rape, no sex assault, no robbery, nothing taken; in fact, hardly a struggle in the living room where MacDonald said he was lying on the sofa -- added up to this: a conviction, a conviction that has been hotly contested for 30 years.

And now, to Matthew Eisley, senior reporter with the "News and Observer," the DNA tests are very complex that he requested. In fact, you almost didn`t get them. After many court battles, he got what he asked for: DNA tests that shows the hair in his wife`s hand was, in fact, his.

Now, Matthew, for those just joining us, could you explain the trial and the evidence?

EISLEY: Well, he was tried in 1979, which was nine years after the killings. A great deal of forensic evidence was introduced. Helena Stoeckley testified. Of course, his latest appeal hinges on this federal marshal whom you mentioned earlier, and that`s going to play out in the coming months here in North Carolina.

GRACE: Well, the thing about the federal marshal, Matthew, the woman who was one of the crazy hippies testified at trial. There was a chance to cross-examine her at that time. Not only that, she and another "crazy hippie," they`re both dead. Well, their DNA has been examined, and neither of them match the unknown remaining hairs in the home, Matthew.

EISLEY: Right. The case that the defense makes now in the latest, which is the fourth appeal, is that the judge of the trial excluded testimony from other people who were telling folks that Helena had told them the same thing. The judge ruled that their testimony would not have been credible. But the Fourth Circuit, which rarely grants these kinds of appeals, has said that there might be a reasonable basis for that to send it back.

GRACE: OK. Hold on just a moment. Let me get something straight. The "crazy hippie," who`s now deceased, Helena Stoeckley, MacDonald said she was in the house. He claimed that she said she was in the house, correct...

EISLEY: Right.

GRACE: ... that she took part in the killings, right?



Let me go to the lawyers on this. David Foley, take off your defense hat just one moment and let`s talk about inconsistent statements. This woman took the stand. She said, "I was not in the house. I had nothing to do with this," and the DNA now confirms that. So why would the judge disallow other people who claimed she told them she was in the home?

FOLEY: Well, because of the fact, Nancy, you have to take into account that she was allegedly, according to the testimony from Jimmy Britt at this point, that she was threatened that, if she went into detail on this, that she was going to be charged with a murder. So, based on that, you really don`t know the full gamut of what she would have said in her testimony.

GRACE: And to Pat Lalama, when did that allegation first arise, the fact that the crazy hippies were afraid they would be charged if they were truthful at court?

LALAMA: Well, first, let`s go back just a little bit before that, Nancy. There was actually an MP, a member of the military police, who said he had seen -- he thought he had seen that woman milling around the neighborhood with the floppy hat that night. So that`s where her existence first began.

But, also, remember, she herself was a drug addict. Her stories were inconsistent, all right? She told some people she was there; she told some people she wasn`t. There`s no credibility. And now she`s dead.

So isn`t it quite convenient that suddenly -- and I`d love to talk to this deputy U.S. marshal and ask him why now, why now are you changing the story? She`s dead. She was a drug addict, and she told stories back and forth. And now all of a sudden he`s claiming that she was threatened. It just doesn`t make -- I`d look for somebody to answer that for me.

GRACE: Why, Matthew Eisley? I mean, the law is very clear on the reversal of a case based on so-called new evidence, which this marshal fits into. If it was discoverable at the time of the first time, it will not warrant a reversal.

If that were true, Matthew, every conviction and every acquittal would be in jeopardy if new evidence -- if, 20 years later, you go, "Oh, guess what? I founds a new witness, and they claim to know something about this trial. Let`s have a new trial."

Why is this guy that alleges he knows something about the case coming forward three decades later?

EISLEY: We asked him that, Nancy, and he`s talked, I think, only with us about it. He claimed a couple of things. He says, on the one hand, that it`s been weighing on his conscience the whole time, but that he withheld the information because he respected the trial judge and he was afraid he might be reassigned elsewhere across the country.

GRACE: OK, I can smell that a thousand miles away, all right? That`s the best he`s got to offer?

EISLEY: That`s what he says. He`s very insistent in his version, but everyone in this case...

GRACE: He respected the judge so much he didn`t want to tell the truth?

EISLEY: That`s what he says. But, of course, everyone in this case has got supporters and critics, and he`s among them.


GRACE: OK, let`s get it from the horse`s mouth. Take a listen to Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald.


MACDONALD: 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 reenergized. I think the DNA has great possibilities for me. There are new witnesses still coming forward.

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.

We filed 28 consecutive motions to get those handwritten notes that show this material. Every single one, zero for 28, were denied by the judge.


GRACE: Hey, psst, MacDonald, we did the DNA test. It matches you. Shh.

Very quickly back to Matthew Eisley. Matthew is the senior reporter with the "News and Observer." Everybody, this is a multiple homicide that has drained the system of millions of dollars. This Princeton graduate, a doctor, an M.D., has long claimed he was innocent in the brutal murders of his wife and two little girls.

Matthew, what can you tell me? I was reading the documents today, and here it is 30 years later, practically, and I see that the stab wounds to the wife were through MacDonald`s pajama top.

EISLEY: That`s certainly what the prosecution argued. The defense always maintained Dr. MacDonald said he held up his arms up, you know, warding off the blows, and that`s how it was cut. But the prosecutors at trial tried to show how that couldn`t have happened; it would have torn jagged holes. But that`s, like everything else, a point of contention in this case.

GRACE: Wait, I don`t understand. He said at trial that he held his arms up and the stab wounds went through his arms?

EISLEY: He says that the pajama was raised over him, over his head, and he held -- got twisted up in the pajama top. And it was sort of strung between his arms, and he`s warding off the blows.

GRACE: Then why does the prosecution say that she was stabbed through his pajama top?

EISLEY: An FBI analyst took the pajama top and found that, if you lay it just so, as they say it was found at the scene, and you stab directly through, then you produce or can produce the circular puncture holes that were, in fact, found in the pajama top.

GRACE: I see. And how many puncture holes were in the pajama top?

EISLEY: More than 20.

GRACE: And how many times was he stabbed, three?

EISLEY: You`ve got the big wound you mentioned that deflated his lung and a couple of other cuts.

GRACE: Two, two others. That is a total of three stabs. So why is the pajama top stabbed over 20 times?

EISLEY: Well, he`s saying that it was held up in the air and they were stabbing at him with an ice pick or -- and that`s how the holes, the tears, appeared in the pajama top.

GRACE: Is it true that he filed a civil suit regarding "Fatal Vision," the movie or the book and got about $300,000 off that?

EISLEY: Yes, yes, absolutely true.

GRACE: What do you think, Matthew? You`ve been covering it for so long?

EISLEY: Well, and I`m going to keep covering it, and so I`ll try to be a good reporter and not take sides.


EISLEY: But it`s a case that -- it`s captured the attention of people here, across the nation. Every story we write, we get e-mails and phone calls from across the country. And, Nancy, I have to say, my wife, Laura, you`re your advice and didn`t marry a really good-looking guy, and I`m glad she did that.

GRACE: That`s right. Give me an ugly man any day of the week.

OK, Matthew, since I can`t seem to crack you into telling me your opinion, I`ll just take an aspirin and go onto the next segments. Matthew Eisley with us, senior reporter with the "News and Observer."

We`ll all be right back as we take you to Vermont. But to tonight`s "Trial Tracking."

Prosecutors gearing up to seek a first-degree murder indictment against ex-con bouncer Darryl Littlejohn, his DNA tied to the brutal rape and murder of this graduate student, Imette St. Guillen. Littlejohn named prime suspect in the case after tests show his blood on plastic ties used to bind Imette. Currently, Littlejohn behind bars on yet a separate parole violation.



HOPE SCHREINER, WIFE ACCUSED OF MURDER: I don`t see his chest moving.

DISPATCHER: OK. How old is he, ma`am?

SCHREINER: Seventy-eight.

DISPATCHER: OK. Can you see anything coming out of his mouth, anything?

SCHREINER: Yes, there`s blood out of his nose.



SCHREINER: It looks like -- it looks like he fell on his...

DISPATCHER: Ma`am, can you verify that he`s not breathing right now?

SCHREINER: (INAUDIBLE) I don`t think so. I don`t think so.


I don`t think so.

DISPATCHER: Can you move his head back?

SCHREINER: Yes, yes, I can. Do you want me to do that?

DISPATCHER: OK. Lay him on his back.

SCHREINER: OK, I will. OK, now what?


DISPATCHER: Can you check (INAUDIBLE) are you OK?

SCHREINER: Are you OK? (INAUDIBLE) Are you OK? (INAUDIBLE) Are you OK? He`s not responding.


GRACE: When you think of golden years, you don`t usually equate that with a murder trial. This 73-year-old woman on trial for the bludgeoning death of her 78-year-old husband and, to top it all off, out in the front driveway.

Let`s go straight out to Bob Audette, reporter with the "Brattleboro Reformer."

Bob, explain the case.

BOB AUDETTE, REPORTER, "BRATTLEBORO REFORMER": Well, the case is the state alleges that Ms. Schreiner killed her husband. They haven`t really gone to the motivation. They have hinted that it might have been a bad marriage. There`s also some mention that there was some money involved, as well.

GRACE: How long had they been married?

AUDETTE: Forty-three years.

GRACE: Well, that`s way, way past the shelf date. So how can you say, after 40 years, that that`s grounds for murder?

AUDETTE: Well, she did make some pretty damning comments to some witnesses that we have yet to hear from. And I think the prosecution is relying quite a bit on those comments.

GRACE: Like what?

AUDETTE: Well, she told one neighbor that she did it.

GRACE: You mean the neighbor that said, "I just snapped"?

AUDETTE: That was a different neighbor.

GRACE: OK. Oh, there`s another neighbor? Ouch.

AUDETTE: She told one neighbor that, "I did it," and she also told another neighbor that she put sleeping pills in some of his food or a drink.

GRACE: So, basically, this was her second try, according to that neighbor?

AUDETTE: Well, I guess you could interpret it that way, yes.

GRACE: Well, how do you interpret it?

AUDETTE: Well, I haven`t heard all the evidence yet, so I`m still waiting. I think we have a lot yet to hear.

GRACE: I think so, too, and especially with the impression that she gives the jury in this courtroom. I mean, she looks like the chief librarian.


GRACE: I`m not seeing a murder one conviction here, guys.

To Pat Lalama, what do you know about the case, Pat?

LALAMA: Well, I know that clearly she must have some morale issue with divorce. But, no, here is what we know about the case, that he apparently did not treat her well. They hadn`t spoken much over the last years. He was...


GRACE: Pat, you`re kidding me, right? He hadn`t spoken to her much?

LALAMA: Well...


GRACE: How many women would pay for their husbands to be quiet? Please. That is not grounds for murder.

LALAMA: Well, let me tell you.


Well, here`s the deal. I mean, it was a very, very troubled situation, according to neighbors. He had lung cancer. She had intimated to people she was tired of taking care of him.

GRACE: Was it true he was abusive to her?

LALAMA: Well, the claim is that he was very nasty to her. There was never any sign of physical abuse. But, you know, it`s funny; to his defense, some people said that he was the biggest gentleman. You`d never imagine that. But you see those are the ones that oftentimes, behind closed doors, aren`t very nice to their spouses. So the jury is still out, as they say.

But listen, Nancy. The important thing is that the defense says she was not there and they claim that they have a bank timestamp to show that she couldn`t have been there when it happened.

GRACE: To Bob Audette, will there be evidence of physical abuse?

AUDETTE: I do not believe so, because I believe that all the affidavits I`ve read there`s been no mention about physical abuse.

GRACE: To Dr. Keith Ablow, Doctor, what kind of defense could she possibly mount?

DR. KEITH ABLOW, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, I mean, besides her claim that she simply wasn`t there, you do start to wonder about mood liability, impulse control problems in the elderly, et cetera.

But I think another lesson here is that elder abuse is, in fact, underreported and that people can quote, unquote, "snap," who have had no history prior, even for this number of decades, when they reach their limits and they can`t conceive of life going forward with the person and the burdens that they`ve had.

We heard about it with Jeffrey MacDonald. This is a different age and stage, but it doesn`t mean it didn`t happen.

GRACE: And very quickly, Dr. Arden, if the defense is he fell out of his car and hit his head, is that belied by the facts?

ARDEN: I think it very well will be. I`ll tell you, this one is truly Forensics 101, Nancy, for a host of reasons.

You`re talking about the issue of patterns of head injuries. And you can, frequently, distinguish head injuries that are caused by somebody striking someone with an object versus somebody falling down and striking the ground with the head. And you can sometimes even distinguish the pattern of brain and head injuries...

GRACE: Right.

ARDEN: ... from a supported head, such as if his head is on the grounds and she then strikes him again.

GRACE: Right. Right.

ARDEN: That may also have another pattern.

GRACE: And, Dr. Arden, if they try to use that defense, they`re goners. They need to be listening to you right now.

To tonight`s "All-Points Bulletin." Law enforcement on the lookout for Cecil Lawrence Allen, in connection with the 2005 vehicular manslaughter of Jimmy Ray, Lake Village, Arkansas.

Allen, 33, 6`, green eyes, brown hair. If you have info, 870-265- 8020.

Local news next for some of you, but we`ll all be right back. And, remember, live coverage of the 73-year-old woman on trial for her husband`s death, 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern, Court TV.

Please stay with us. We are remembering Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, 20, of Westminster, Maryland. Snyder served in Iraq`s Anbar province, remembered for his wonderful sense of humor. He died doing what he always wanted to do, be a Marine. Matthew A. Snyder, an American hero.


GRACE: Welcome back, everyone. A 73-year-old woman on trial for murder. I`m not really sure that it even makes sense.

Midwin Charles, what`s your defense?

CHARLES: Exactly what she says, that she didn`t do it. I mean, I understand there`s a bank statement that shows that she wasn`t even there at the time, his estimated time of death. I mean, this is a 73-year-old woman. She`s been married to her husband of 43 years. If she really wanted to kill him -- I just don`t see it happening, Nancy. She`s going home.

GRACE: Now, wait a minute. That doesn`t even make sense. If she really wanted to kill him, eh, she wouldn`t do it. OK. I see your defense. She`s too much of an LOL, an little old lady, to commit murder. OK, I don`t know if that`s going to work when you compare it to the autopsy findings.

Pat Brown, criminal profiler, what do you make of the case, the 73- year-old defendant, 78-year-old victim?

BROWN: Well, I think, Nancy, it`s a little bit like probably the Chinese water torture treatment. That`s what happens a lot when you have two people cooped up together in a home. And perhaps -- I`m not saying who treated which one worse, but if you`re on the receiving end of some bad treatment there, you can think of it like Chinese water torture treatment. Every day, it`s pick, and pick, and pick, and pick, until it drives you absolutely berserk. Does it give you a reason to murder? No, but it is a reason people do murder.

GRACE: What about it, David Foley? Give me your best shot.

FOLEY: Nancy, you`re talking about a librarian here who served 43 years with this guy. No one`s going to sell to a jury that she`s a hardened criminal or a violent offender in this case. Look at her; she couldn`t shove a library book. She`s going to go ahead and beat her husband to death with some blunt object?

GRACE: OK, well, if she didn`t do it, who did?

FOLEY: There`s no motive.

GRACE: And what about her statements to her neighbors, saying, "I just snapped"?

FOLEY: What she said on that, and you have to look at the credibility of these neighbors. This is their 15 minutes of fame.


GRACE: There`s about 10 of them, David. Do you think they`re all lying?

FOLEY: I think that it`s a small town and there`s a lot of talk, because this is the biggest things going since yesterday`s coffee.

GRACE: OK, you know what? Note to self: When bludgeoning another to death in front yard, hire David Foley and Midwin Charles. OK, got it.

Thank you to all of my guests tonight. But our biggest thank you is to you for being with us once again and inviting us into your homes. Coming up, headlines from all around the world.

I`m Nancy Grace signing off for tonight, and I hope to see you right here tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. Until then, good night, friend.