Former Army Doctor in 'Fatal Vision' Murders Appeals Release Denial

Jeffrey Colette MacDonald Fatal Vision Murders
This 1969 file photo provided by Kathryn MacDonald shows Jeffrey MacDonald, right, and his wife, Colette, in Fort Bragg, N.C. MacDonald's pregnant wife and two young daughters were murdered in 1970, and MacDonald was convicted of the crimes. (Courtesy Kathryn MacDonald)

RALEIGH, N.C. -- A former Army doctor serving life in prison for the "Fatal Vision" slayings of his wife and two young daughters in 1970 is appealing a federal court ruling this month denying his requested release due to poor health.

Court officials on Friday sent the appeal notice filed late Thursday by attorneys for Jeffrey MacDonald to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. MacDonald's lawyers intend to challenge the April 9 order by District Judge Terrence Boyle.

The judge wrote that he lacked authority to adjust MacDonald's prison time, because a law governing compassionate release requests doesn't apply to those who committed their crimes before a 1987 cutoff.

Serving his sentences at a Maryland prison, MacDonald, 77, has chronic kidney disease, skin cancer and high blood pressure, according to court documents.

MacDonald was convicted in 1979 for the slayings of his pregnant wife, Colette; 5-year-old daughter, Kimberley; and 2-year-old daughter, Kristen, at their family home at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. MacDonald has declared his innocence and spent years on appeals in the "Fatal Vision" case, named for a book about the investigation. The 4th Circuit refused in late 2018 to grant MacDonald a new trial.

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