Timothy Hennis Sentenced to Military DP in 1985 NC Triple Murders

Started by Michael, May 15, 2009, 07:12:11 PM

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May 15, 2009, 07:12:11 PM Last Edit: April 16, 2010, 12:11:37 AM by Jeff1857
The court-martial of Master Sgt. Timothy B. Hennis has been delayed until September after a military judge granted a continuance.

Military Judge Col. Patrick Parrish set the new trial date on Sept. 14. It had been scheduled for July 7.

Parrish approved a motion by Hennis' lawyers to direct the government to pay for two experts to aide in the defense's case.

Dr. Edward Blake and Peter Barnett will consult with the defense on DNA evidence, hair, fiber and fingerprint evidence.

The government will deliver six items of evidence to Blake and Barnett for testing and analysis, according to Parrish's ruling.

A request for 33 other pieces of evidence has been denied, but Parrish said he would reconsider if the defense is able to show how further inspection and possible testing would help their case.

The government had previously approved the defense team's use of the experts but later balked at what it called unnecessary expenses.

At a pretrial hearing on Friday, a lawyer for Hennis said the evidence may point to someone else as the killer.

Prosecutors argued that the defense wanted the government to fund a "fishing expedition" for "phantom killers."

Hennis, 51, is accused of killing Kathryn Eastburn and two of her daughters at their home at 367 Summer Hill Road on May 9, 1985.

This is his third trial, but it is his first in a military court.

Hennis was originally convicted of killing the Eastburns in 1986 and was acquitted at a second trial in 1989.

He resumed his Army career and retired in 2004. The military pulled Hennis out of retirement in 2006 and charged him again after civilian investigators reported that DNA testing of semen found in Mrs. Eastburn's body linked Hennis to the crime.

In a separate ruling, Parrish denied a motion by Hennis' lawyers to suppress information that the killing of Kathryn Eastburn occurred during a rape.

Parrish said he would allow that information to be used as an aggravating factor in the trial.

If convicted, Hennis could face the death penalty.

I´m not sure if there´s a hell, but I believe in executed murderers.

heidi salazar

Motions begin in military trial against murder suspect

RALEIGH - Pre-trial motions begin Monday on Fort Bragg in the military trial of Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis, who is accused of killing a woman and her two daughters 25 years ago.

Hennis was initially convicted of the murders and sentenced to death in 1986. He was later acquitted after an appeal granted him a second trial in 1989.

He retired from the Army in 2004, but officials called him back to active duty two years later to try him in a military court, saying new DNA evidence links him to the crime. The court martial begins Tuesday.

On Friday, defense attorneys argued in federal court that the military does not have the authority to try him for murder and want the court martial halted.

Military attorneys say Hennis was never fully discharged because he immediately re-enlisted. They argue there was no break in his military benefits, and therefore no break in his service.

A ruling has not been decided.

If convicted, Hennis could face the death penalty.



Hennis jury selection nears completion

The 11th juror was provisionally seated in the court-martial of Army Master Sgt. Timothy B. Hennis on Wednesday.

The court-martial, a capital murder trial, needs a minimum of 12 jurors to proceed.

Jury selection resumes at 9 a.m. today. The judge, Col. Patrick Parrish, may announce then whether he will approve another proposed juror who was interviewed Wednesday. Two more potential jurors are scheduled to be interviewed today.

Although the trial needs at least 12 jurors, it's likely the government will seek to seat more than 12 to ensure there are enough on the panel to sit through to the end. No matter the number seated, all jurors would take part in deliberations; the military does not use alternate jurors as commonly seen in civilian trials.

If the jury finds Hennis guilty by a unanimous vote, it then will be asked to choose between sentencing him to death or to life in prison.

Hennis, 52, is accused of killing 32-year-old Kathryn Eastburn and two of her children in May 1985 at their home near Fort Bragg. He has pleaded not guilty and has maintained he did not commit the crimes.

On Wednesday:

One potential juror, a lieutenant colonel, was dropped because she said she would not consider giving a life sentence to someone convicted of murdering a child. She also said she did not think she could be a fair juror.

The 11th juror seated was a lieutenant colonel who neither side objected to.

A command sergeant major was dropped after he said a person should be sentenced to death for killing young children and that he would not consider mitigating evidence, such as a defendant's family history, marriage and children.

Defense lawyers asked Parrish to reject another command sergeant major on the grounds he would be biased in favor of a death sentence and in favor of police witnesses and forensic evidence.

The prosecution team argued this potential juror said he would strive to be fair and consider all the evidence before making decisions on guilt and on sentencing.

I´m not sure if there´s a hell, but I believe in executed murderers.

heidi salazar

Eastburn testifies as Hennis trial begins

Gary Eastburn told a military jury at Fort Bragg this morning how he became increasingly worried when he couldn't reach his wife Kathryn for their weekly phone date on Saturday May 11, 1985.

A day later, he learned his wife and two of his three children had been murdered. Army Master Sgt. Timothy B. Hennis is on trial for the killings in a court-martial that could end with him being sentenced to death.

Gary Eastburn was the first witness to testify after opening arguments were completed this morning. Hennis is being tried for the third time; he was convicted in civilian court in 1986, then freed after an appeal granted him a new trial and he was found not guilty. New DNA evidence in the case prompted the Army to take up the charges in 2006.

Hennis kept his head down and took notes this morning as prosecutors made opening statements.

Capt. Nate Huff, a prosecutor, spoke to the jury for 37 minutes, relating the story of how Hennis adopted a dog from the Eastburn family on May 7, 1985. Huff said Hennis returned two nights later, raped and killed Kathryn Eastburn, then stabbed two of her daughters to death.

He told jurors how witnesses reported seeing someone who looked like Hennis and driving a car that looked like his in the Eastburns' neighborhood on the night of the murders.

Huff also said DNA evidence was found in Kathryn Eastburn's vagina that links Hennis to the crime.

Defense attorneys pointed out that Hennis' DNA was not found on a bloody towel taken from the scene, and that male DNA not belonging to Hennis was found under the fingernails of two of the victims, and on a latex glove the killer was thought to have used.

The case was delayed slightly this morning as lawyers battled over opening statements.

Prosecutors planned to include a slide-show presentation in their opening remarks. The slide show was to include the photo lineup from which neighbors picked out Hennis during the original investigation of the murders.

Defense lawyers said they plan to challenge the inclusion of the photo lineup as evidence and that it would be unfair for the jury to see it before that challenge.

The judge agreed, and opening statements were delayed by about 30 minutes while prosecutors removed the debated images from the slide show.


heidi salazar

Defense to begin arguments in Hennis court-martial

FAYETTEVILLE - Defense lawyers for Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis are expected to begin arguments this week. The 51-year-old Fort Bragg soldier is facing a court-martial for the 1985 murders of Kathryn Eastburn and her two daughters.

He was convicted of the crimes the following year but won an appeal and was acquitted in a second state trial.

Hennis was recalled to active duty to face this third trial.

On Friday, an Army expert testified that DNA from one of the victims does match Hennis, linking him to the deaths.

Monday, prosecutors say they will present one more witness before resting their case. If convicted, Hennis could face the death penalty.


heidi salazar

Defense rests in triple murder trial of NC soldier

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) -- Lawyers for a retired soldier forced back into the Army to face charges in a North Carolina triple slaying a quarter century ago have wrapped up their case.

Closing arguments are set for Wednesday after attorneys for 52-year-old Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis finished presenting evidence Tuesday. His lawyers showed two photographs, one of a Hennis in 1985, and read the jury a stipulation that the tip of a rubber glove found at the crime scene was not the same kind used by law enforcement officers. Defense lawyers have been focusing on what they say are inconsistent eyewitnesses and a lack of physical evidence.

Hennis is charged with three counts of premeditated murder in the 1985 deaths of 31-year-old Kathryn Eastburn and her two daughters in their Fayetteville home.

Prosecutors say new DNA tests link Hennis to the crime. Using technology that was unavailable in 1985, Jennifer Hopper, a former forensic analyst with the State Bureau of Investigation, testified that sperm found in the body of Kathryn Eastburn matches Hennis' DNA. Hopper said the odds that the sperm came from another white man were 12.1 thousand trillion to one.

A defense expert in forensic pathology testified that sperm found in Eastburn's body could have been there several days before the murder.

This is Hennis' third trial.

He was convicted in 1986 in a civilian court and sentenced to death, but the state Supreme Court awarded him a new trial after finding his first trial was run unfairly and with weak evidence.

A second jury acquitted Hennis in April 1989. Hennis retired from the military in 2004 and was living in Lakewood, Wash., when a detective reviewing the case said he uncovered the DNA evidence.

Hennis couldn't be tried again in civilian court so he was charged by the military, which can pursue the case because its court system is a different jurisdiction. He could face the death penalty if convicted.


heidi salazar

Hennis found guilty in unanimous panel ruling

FORT BRAGG - An Army court-martial panel on Fort Bragg unanimously found Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis guilty of three counts of premeditated murder Thursday. Hennis could face the death penalty.

Hennis was charged with murdering a Fayetteville woman and her two young daughters 25 years ago.

He was initially convicted of the murders and sentenced to death in1986. But he was later acquitted after an appeal granted him a second trial in 1989.

He retired from the Army in 2004, but officials called him back to active duty two years later to try him in a military court, saying new DNA evidence links him to the crime.


heidi salazar

Last day for Hennis sentencing hearing

By Martha Waggoner - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Apr 13, 2010 10:05:10 EDT

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Fourteen military jurors who convicted a North Carolina soldier in the slayings of a mother and two of her daughters will hear lawyers argue about whether he should live or die.

Closing arguments are to begin Tuesday afternoon at Fort Bragg in the case of Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis. He was convicted last week of premeditated murder in the 1985 slayings of 31-year-old Kathryn Easburn and two of her three daughters in their Fayetteville home. Hennis faces life behind bars or the death penalty.

Prosecutors plan to present one more witness before closing arguments.

Hennis was convicted in 1986 in civilian court and sentenced to die, but the state Supreme Court gave him a new trial. Jurors acquitted him in 1989, saying prosecutors couldn't prove Hennis was in the house at the time of the slayings.



(ABC 6 NEWS) -- A Rochester native gets the death penalty for murder. Thursday, a military jury handed down the death sentence for 52-year-old Master Sergeant Timothy Hennis.

Hennis was convicted last week of the premeditated murder of a North Carolina woman and her two small children. It happened back in 1985.

The sentence will now be reviewed by a commanding officer and automatically appealed.

Hennis graduated from Mayo High School in Rochester in the 1970's.



A little more indepth article:

Timothy B. Hennis was sentenced to death today for a 1985 triple murder.

The jury deliberated for 13 hours over three days before reaching its verdict, which was announced at 2:51 p.m. today.

Hennis showed no reaction. One of his lawyers put an arm around him and Hennis' wife, Angela, began to weep.

Hennis will also be reduced in rank to E-1, forfeit all pay and benefits, and be dishonorably discharged from the military for the murder of Kathryn Eastburn and two of her young daughters.

Gary Eastburn, her widower, said afterward he believed the sentence was appropriate. He said he doesn't care if the death sentence is ever carried out as long as Hennis remains behind bars.

Eastburn called Hennis a coward and said he can never forgive him.

"I can't describe how angry I am at him," Eastburn said.

Frank Spinner, one of Hennis' lawyers, said he will continue to fight for Hennis through the appeals process.

"Timothy Hennis has maintained his innocence from day one," Spinner said.

Spinner said Hennis' family wanted to express their sympathy to Kathryn Eastburn's relatives. He said Hennis' family is standing by him.

"They love him as a husband, as a father and a grandfather now, and as a brother," Spinner said.

The attorney said he is still contesting the Army's jurisdiction over the case.

The Army took up the case in 2006 after DNA evidence, previously untested, linked Hennis to the murder scene.

During the trial, Spinner argued that Hennis' DNA, found present in Kathryn Eastburn's body, could have originated during consensual sex days before she was killed.

Asked today if Hennis had ever told him that he and Eastburn had had sex, Spinner refused to answer, citing the privacy afforded by attorney-client privilege.

Spinner said he plans to appeal based on numerous prejudicial rulings that he said the judge made. He said those rulings included allowing the jury to continue voting on the death penalty after indicating they had already done so unsuccessfully.

The jury had two options: the death sentence or life in prison with a chance of parole.

At the end of Wednesday's session, the jury appeared to be divided - possibly 13-1 - in favor of sentencing Hennis to death

A death sentence required a unanimous vote; a life sentence would have required agreement from at least 11 jurors.

The 14-member jury voted unanimously last week to convict Hennis of murdering Eastburn, 31, and daughters Kara, 5, and Erin, 3, in their home in the Summerhill neighborhood near Fort Bragg in May 1985. The Eastburns were stabbed to death.

In 1985, Hennis was a sergeant stationed at Fort Bragg. He was arrested by civilian law enforcement a few days after the bodies were found.

He was convicted in the North Carolina court system in 1986, won a new trial on appeal in 1988 and acquitted at the new trial in 1989.



The wheels of justice grind exceedingly slowly, but they eventually come to their destination. After 25 years, they've parked right on top of Timothy Baily Hennis and he's probably finding it pretty hard to breathe right now.

On May 9, 1985, a Cumberland County sheriff's deputy entered Kathryn Eastburn's home near Fort Bragg, NC because neighbors heard a baby crying inside but they couldn't get anyone to come to the door. He found Eastburn and two of her three daughters, ages 5 and 3, brutally murdered in their beds. She had been raped and then stabbed 35 times. Her infant daughter was in her crib but unharmed. Her husband, Gary, was a captain in the army and was out of state on a training deployment.

Investigators soon arrested army sergeant Tim Hennis for the crime. When he was tried, prosecutors presented this scenario: Hennis had visited the house a few days earlier because the Eastburns were about to be transferred and couldn't take their dog. He answered their "free to a good home" ad in the classifieds and decided to come back to the house later to rape Kathryn Eastburn. He was found guilty and imprisoned. Defense attorneys argued that gruesome crime scene photos were show on a screen right over the defendant's head. The appeals court agreed that was prejudicial and sent the case back for a re-trial. Hennis was acquitted the second time around.

After this, Capt. Eastburn gave an interview to a local reporter and told him that he had decided to get on with his life. A Catholic, Eastburn had forgiven Hennis and said that his remaining daughter was too precious to spend his life wrapped up in anger over his wife's murder.

After he was acquitted, Hennis returned to the army and served until 2004, when he retired. But prosecutors and the sheriff's department in Cumberland County were still interested in him. They pulled out the evidence investigators had gathered at the scene and sent it off for DNA testing. It nailed Tim Hennis to the wall. Now all they had to do was get him into a court of law and let the jury do the rest.

They couldn't call him back into a Cumberland County court because of double jeopardy - you can't be tried twice in the same jurisdiction for the same crime. But Hennis was in the army at the time of the murder and still subject to the code of military justice. The army recalled him to face a court-marital in 2006. He was convicted last week and yesterday he was sentenced to death by lethal injection. Justice has finally been done.

The permutations this case has gone through have been riveting, they even made a made for TV movie about it. I lived in Fayetteville at the time of the murder and knew a few people associated with the prosecution and the press that covered the trial. They've shared some interesting analysis of the trials and revealed a few intriguing things that didn't come out in court:

    * They said police speculated privately that Mrs. Eastburn likely stayed silent throughout the attack, so as not to wake her children and put their lives in danger, too. At least it save the life of her baby.

    * Investigators also uncovered information that this was not the first time Hennis had been involved in a rape. Two women were brought in from out of state to witness the end of the first trial. Neither had cases against Hennis solid enough to be brought to trial, but prosecutors thought that the sight of them in the courtroom might make Hennis a little nervous. After the women showed up in the courtroomm defense attorneys decided not to put Hennis on the stand.

    * In the first trial, the case went to the jury the Friday before 4th of July. The judge held the jury over the weekend to deliberate. On July 4th, they came back with a guilty verdict. Right after it was read Hennis' wife Angela was heard to say: "Good, that's over. Now we can go to the beach." After the sentence was read yesterday, it's reported that she cried softly. Maybe she had planned to spend Easter weekend at the coast but couldn't make it because of the trial.

    * At the time of the first and second trials, DNA evidence had not be judged to be admissible in North Carolina courts and prosecutors decided not to introduce it and make State v. Hennis a test case. There was too much on the line for that.

    * During his first two trials, Hennis maintained that the only time he was in the Eastburn house or had any contact with the family was the visit he made about the dog. Then authorities submitted the evidence and found that the sperm found in Mrs. Eastburn was his. The argument at the court-martial that the that Eastburn and Hennis had been having an affair and the sperm was from an earlier encounter just didn't hold water.

    * Hennis' defense in the first two trials was paid for by his dad, who was a bigwig at IBM at the time. There were reports his dad cashed out his entire retirement so his son could have two of the best criminal trial attorneys in the state, Billy Richardson and Gerald Beaver. When he was hauled before a court-martial he could have hired a private lawyer who specialized in military justice for his defense but he didn't have the financial resources he'd had before and a military lawyer defended him. He did a good job but just didn't have the specialized training of Mark Waple, a Fayetteville attorney whose handled hundreds of courts-martial. Had Hennis had the funds, Waple would have defended him.

    * Of his original attorneys, Richardson was the younger of the two and the one who spoke to the press most often. He has always maintained that Hennis was innocent. Beaver was older and more experienced. When asked after the second trial about the guilt or innocence of the defendant, he said that it was his job to make the state prove their case and that prosecutors had failed.

In 1989, Hennis managed to walk away from the murder charges against him. He probably felt pretty cocky to have gotten away with murder. He's been a good boy since then with not so much as a parking ticket. However, in the early 90's when DNA evidence was ruled admissible in a court of law, Hennis had to have started living with the fear that his case would be re-opened. Even if he didn't realize that he could be called to a court-martial, there must have been some uneasiness for him. That discomfort has been nothing compared to the agony the Eastburn family went through. Hennis will be put to death in a humane way. I don't think the uncertainty that Hennis must have experienced after his 1989 acquittal and then his subsequent court-martial and as well as his death sentence equals what Kathryn Eastburn and her two daughters went through that night. This sentence is just, but it can never be fair. Timothy Baily Hennis saw to that.


Kathryn Eastburn and two of her daughters were found dead in their Summer Hill Road home May 9, 1985

Kathryn Eastburn's daughters Erin, 3, and Kara Sue, 5, were stabbed to death along with their mother.

Kathryn Eastburn and two of her daughters were found dead in their Summer Hill Road home May 9, 1985.

Master Sgt. Timothy B. Hennis

Master Sgt. Timothy B. Hennis



"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself." Albert Einstein


This scumbag needs to go, he has walked free for 25 years.  Maybe he can go to the head of the line.
"You want to have a fair death penalty?" "You kill; you die. That's fair."
- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia


2 quetions -
1. Does the Racial Bias law apply to military cases in NC?
2. What's the military record like on executing these POS?  Are they any faster?


September 20, 2010, 01:50:11 PM Last Edit: September 20, 2010, 01:57:49 PM by Jeff1857

2 quetions -
1. Does the Racial Bias law apply to military cases in NC?
2. What's the military record like on executing these POS?  Are they any faster?
The last miilitary person X'd was April 13, 1961. As far as the RJA, I suppose it could be raised on an appeal but it doesn't apply to Hennis since he's not a NC DR inmate and he was tried and convicted in a military court not a state one.

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