Judge rejects release for ‘Fatal Vision’ murder defendant MacDonald

Convicted murderer and former Fort Bragg Army Capt. Jeffrey MacDonald cannot get out of prison under a federal compassionate release law, U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle said in a ruling issued Friday.

MacDonald is serving three life sentences at a federal prison in Maryland for the murders in 1970 of his pregnant wife and two children at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He has claimed factual innocence.

The compassionate release law allows some federal prisoners over age 70 to get out of prison under certain circumstances, such as if they have served at least 30 years of their sentences or there are extraordinary and compelling reasons.

The compassionate release law doesn’t apply to MacDonald, Boyle said, because MacDonald was sentenced under an older sentencing law that has provisions for parole. The compassionate release law applies only to inmates whose crimes took place on or after Nov. 1, 1987, Boyle said, and who were sentenced under a newer law that replaced traditional parole with supervised release.

Jeffrey MacDonald

“Under the parole or old-law sentencing scheme, defendants can seek immediate eligibility for parole based upon extraordinary and compelling circumstances,” Boyle wrote. The judge serves on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

MORE ON THE HEARING:‘Fatal Vision’ murders: Should Jeffrey MacDonald be released? Judge hears arguments

ARCHIVE PHOTOS:Fort Bragg murders: Photos of the Jeffrey MacDonald case

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