Former Sgt. Timothy Hennis Awaits Death Row Again

Posted by on Sep 18th, 2010 and filed under Featured, News Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

The trial of Timothy Hennis seemed to be on a roller coaster ride up until now. 25 years since the sensational case came into the limelight in Fayetville, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the doubt of what really happened in the triple murder case (dubbed by the media as the Eastburn Murders) has been justified with Tim Hennis being called to a military tribunal last April of this year because of a new evidence in the case that points to him, with finality, as the real culprit. He was subsequently sentenced to death in his final trial by the U.S. military court.

Timothy Hennis, a master sergeant of the U.S. Army in 1985, was accused of murdering and raping Kathryn Eastburn, and also for the death of Kathryn’s five year old daughter, Kara, and three year old son, Erin. Only Kathryn’s baby daughter, Jana Eastburn was to survive the massacre which occurred in May 21 of that year (1985). Hennis was convicted in 1986 on rape and triple-murder charges, and was sentenced to death by the court in Fayetville, North Carolina. The verdict was soon overturned by the state appellate court in the state of North Carolina after Hennis appealed for another trial and he was released from prison in 1989. Following his acquittal he continued his service in the Army and later retired from it in 2004.

The Fifth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution declares that a person cannot be tried for the same crime following a legal acquittal (also known as “double jeopardy”). However in this case the “separate sovereigns” exception in the U.S. Constitution comes to the picture in which both the federal and state governments (which are different entities) can bring separate prosecutions for the same act. Since Hennis continued with the Army after his post-acquittal and retired from the service 2004, the military can still recall him from retirement under federal law, and because he is still bound by military law when the murders were committed, they can try him with similar charges.

The military tribunal took over his case under the jurisdiction of the federal government and also from the urgings of federal prosecutors after recent forensic evidence from DNA testing came out (the technology was not yet available during his first two trials and before 1990 forensic DNA was not admissible in court). Hennis might be sentenced to death again  for the same crime.

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