Hennis Trial Delayed Until April 2010 at Earliest

January 21, 2010

The military death penalty trial of Master Sergeant Timothy Hennis has been put off until sometime after March so that additional DNA testing can be completed.

Hennis has already been tried twice for the 1985 murders of Kathryn Eastburn and her children.  Although initially convicted and sentenced to death, Hennis was found not guilty at the second trial.  Hennis returned to the Army and retired in 2004, but was called back to duty to face the murder charges a third time in military court, where double jeopardy protections do not apply.

More details are here.

Hennis Pretrial Hearing – Photo Lineups

August 19, 2009

Back in 1985, two potential witnesses were shown a photo array containing a picture of Master Sergeant Timothy Hennis.  The man picked Hennis’ photograph right away, but later had doubts.  The woman first told police she couldn’t remember seeing anyone at all.  Then she said she thought she saw a man.  After picking Hennis’ photo from the lineup, she told police that she’d probably picked him because she had seen his photograph in a newspaper article connected to the case.

Twenty years and two trials later, both witnesses now say they are positive Tim Hennis is the man they saw.  A judge will decide whether this evidence is reliable enough to be admitted at Hennis’ upcoming military trial.  Hennis could face the death penalty if convicted.

Click here to learn more about eyewitness misidentification.

New Trial Date Set for Tim Hennis

July 29, 2009

Tim Hennis will stand trial in a Fort Bragg courtroom early next year, a judge ruled this week.  Hennis’ trial is scheduled to begin February 22nd.  Hennis’ next court date will be a hearing in August at which the court will decide whether the testimony of two alleged eyewitnesses is reliable enough to be heard by a jury.

Hennis Pre-Trial Hearing Tomorrow

July 21, 2009

Master Sergeant Timothy Hennis will appear in a Fort Bragg courtroom tomorrow morning for a pre-trial hearing.  Two more pre-trial hearings are expected before the actual trial begins in September.  It will be the third time Hennis has faced the death penalty for a 1985 triple murder.

Hennis Hearing Today

June 10, 2009

Attorneys for Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis were in a military courtroom at Fort Bragg this morning.  Hennis is facing the death penalty for the 1985 murder of a woman and her two children. The judge ruled that because some of the witnesses have died or otherwise become unavailable to testify, their prior statements against Hennis will be read into the record at his trial.  The judge has yet to rule on other motions argued in the case.

For those unfamiliar with the case, Hennis was tried and sentenced to death for the murders in civilian court in 1986.  Hennis was retried and acquitted of the murders in 1989.  He then re-entered the military, completed his career, and retired on the West Coast.  Hennis was recalled to active duty in 2006 to be tried a third time for the same murders.  Double jeopardy from civilian courts does not apply in military tribunals.

New Trial Date Set for Tim Hennis

May 15, 2009

The military trial of Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis, which had been set for July, is being pushed back to September to give the defense a chance to conduct an independent examination of the forensic evidence.

DW doesn’t know much about military law, so it is unclear why Hennis, who was pulled out of retirement back onto active duty to face these charges in 2006, is only now getting access to the DNA, hair, fiber, and fingerprint evidence that allegedly connects him to the crime.  DW is also unsure of why Hennis’ experts are being denied access altogether to over 30 pieces of forensic evidence.

Hennis has already been tried twice – once convicted and sentenced to death and once acquitted – for the 1985 murders of Kathryn Eastburn and her two daughters.

Hennis Seeks DNA Expert

May 8, 2009

Attorneys for Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis, who is accused of a 1985 triple homicide, are seeking a DNA expert to help prepare their defense.  This will be Hennis’ third trial for the crime; he was convicted and sentenced to death in civlian court in the 1980s, then retried and found not guilty several years later.  In 2006, Hennis was again charged with the murders, this time in military court, so that double jeopardy would not apply.  The military claims that DNA evidence, a science not developed at the time of Hennis’ first two trials, connects him to the crime.  Hennis’ attorneys are seeking an independent examination of the evidence.

Prior reporting is here and here.

Hennis Court-Martial to Begin July 7

January 6, 2009

In a hearing at Fort Bragg this morning, the attorneys prosecuting and defending Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis argued over access to documents and information.  The military is seeking two pages created by Hennis’ attorney in his previous civlian trials, while the defense is seeking contact information for the witnesses the State called in those trials.  Hennis was once convicted and later acquitted in civilian court of the murders for which the Army is now seeking the death penalty.

Another hearing is scheduled for March 31.  The court-martial will convene on July 7.

Tim Hennis Hearing Tomorrow

January 5, 2009

Tomorrow morning a military court at Fort Bragg will hear pretrial motions in the ongoing case of Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis.

In 1986, Hennis was sentenced to death in state court for a triple murder that occurred near Fort Bragg the year before.  In 1989, Hennis was acquitted at a retrial.  Tim Hennis returned to the Army, and served until his retirement in 2004.  New evidence emerged in 2006, and the Army reactivated Hennis for the purpose of charging him with the murders in military court.  Double jeopardy does not apply to the military.  Hennis could again be sentenced to death if he is convicted by a military jury.

Past articles about Hennis are here and here.

Tim Hennis Pretrial Hearing

June 2, 2008

News Update 06.02.08

North Carolina

A military court at Fort Bragg will hear pretrial motions today in the case of Timothy Hennis. Hennis was acquitted of three counts of first-degree murder in civilian court, but is being retried by the military. If convicted, Hennis could become the tenth person on the military’s death row.

Three Salisbury men entered guilty pleas last week in the 2006 murder of Edwin Wayne Moose. Christopher Lee Phipps will spend the rest of his life in prison. Jimmy Richard Allen II and Greg Devin Sims will serve approximately 20 years each. All three had faced the death penalty. The three men went to Moose’s home looking to steal his prescription drugs. Moose was beaten and left for dead. Realizing that they had left evidence behind, the men returned later that night. Moose was still alive, but no one called for help. He was found two days later and died in the hospital.

Chris Fitzsimon from NC Policy Watch writes in The Carrboro Citizen about last week’s hearing on the Racial Justice Act.


In Georgia, Curtis Osborne is scheduled to be executed on June 4th. As Amnesty International reports, Osborne was represented at trial by an attorney who deliberately sabotaged his defense because, in his words, “That little nigger deserves the chair.” You can learn more about Mr. Osborne here, and e-mail the Board of Pardons and Paroles on his behalf here.

Pathetically unsurprising news on courts’ failure to hear claims of possible innocence: Jeffrey Havard in Mississippi and Terry Lyn Short in Oklahoma. Short is scheduled for execution on June 17th. You can learn more about the case here.

Cornell University’s John Blume has compiled data on 83 cases in which the defendant got relief based on Atkins v. Virginia, the 2002 US Supreme Court decision that banned the execution of the mentally retarded. You can see a chart organized by state here. (In North Carolina, 16 men and women have been proven mentally retarded after being convicted of capital crimes.) This piece from AlterNet notes that despite the Atkins ruling, America continues to execute many with mental handicaps.


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