Judges seeks more time in Hennis murder case

Staff writerMarch 1, 2010 

A federal judge today ordered Army lawyers to give him more information before he decides whether to intervene in a court-martial scheduled to get underway Tuesday in a 25-year-old murder case.

U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle gave the government until March 8 to file a supplemental memorandum addressing several issues in the case of Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis, including whether the court martial would amount to double jeopardy.

Hennis was convicted in 1986 in the murders of Kathryn Eastburn and two of her young daughters in Fayetteville the year before. After spending more than two years on death row, he was given a new trial and was acquitted.

In 2006, the Army summoned him out of retirement and charged him again in the case, saying new DNA tests on old evidence linked Hennis to the crime. In the past, the state has said it could not try Hennis again because of constitutional protections against being tried twice on the same charges.

Hennis' attorneys have asked the judge to halt the court-martial, saying the military had no jurisdiction over him. At a hearing before Boyle on Friday, Army attorneys said the military had jurisdiction over Hennis when it charged him because he was a military retiree collecting benefits.

Frank Spinner, a Colorado attorney on Hennis' defense team, said this afternoon that he and the other lawyers will decide by Tuesday morning whether to ask the military judge to halt the court-martial until Boyle issues a final decision. Panel selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Once the Army provides the additional information, Hennis has until March 15 to respond in the federal case.

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