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Archive for Saturday, August 18, 2007

Army to try soldier in 1985 triple slayings

August 18, 2007

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— A soldier acquitted of a triple slaying in civilian court 18 years ago will face a court-martial for the same crimes, an Army general ordered Friday.

The Army will try Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis on three counts of premeditated murder in the May 1985 deaths of Kathryn Eastburn, 31, and two of her daughters - Kara Sue, 5, and Erin Nicole, 3.

Hennis was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1986, 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 1989.

Hennis retired from the military in 2004, but was recalled to active duty last year after a detective reviewing the case uncovered DNA evidence that couldn't be tested using technology available in the mid-1980s.

State officials couldn't charge Hennis again, so the new evidence was given to the Army, which then recalled Hennis and began an investigation into the deaths. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Jennifer Leyn, a special agent with the state Bureau of Investigation, testified at a May hearing that the DNA sample she tested from a rape kit was degraded but provided clear matches for Hennis and Kathryn Eastburn.

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