America’s longest-running murder case and trial took place in 1970. Regardless of decades of legal wrangles, being a husband and father of murdered victims and a military doctor, MacDonald remains in jail for the crime. It is a highly intricate case, which stands as a dishonorable example of injustice and unjustified conviction. The current paper will identify methodologies and techniques used during death investigations. It will also analyze how the prosecution hid and mishandled important evidence. Finally, the paper will reveal MacDonald’s responsibility for arrogance and continuous chattering, especially during TV shows, depicting that these techniques actually backfired and did not help him to convince the court of his innocence during trials.
Jeffrey MacDonald’s case has been suffused with controversies starting from the actual time when murders took place, almost 46 years ago. Regardless of everything, MacDonald sustained his innocence unwaveringly and firmly. It required numerous years to pass after the trial and thousands of governmental report pages, which were acquired via the Freedom of Information Act, in order to identify and exclude the existence of outside assailants. The documents mentioned above did not only reveal that MacDonald’s claim regarding outside assailants was true, but also depicted that the prosecution intentionally concealed evidence sustaining this prior to, throughout, and following the trial. Thus, MacDonald’s case appears to be one of the most evocative legal cases of the current times, being a dishonorable instance of injustice and unjustified conviction.
On the night of February 17, 1970, the appalling crime was committed against the most harmless, pure, and outrageously emotional humanity symbols, a family. Thus, a pregnant woman and her two daughters were practically hacked and battered to pieces when they were sleeping. The whole MacDonald family was massacred except one, and he obviously required immediate hospital treatment (Morris, 2012). Prior to that, MacDonald had gibbered a labile and inconsistent account of being attacked in the living room by a gang of hippies, which included two white males, black man, and a white female with long blond hair wearing a large floppy hat (Evans, 2003).
Death Investigation Methodologies, Techniques and Poor Procedure Quality
Firstly, initially the procedure of death investigation could not be performed appropriately. Investigation methods and techniques were of poor quality. In fact, the crime scene was left open to bystanders (Morris, 2012). It is known that at least a dozen of military police officers scuttled from their jeeps to the house and back again running across the rain-sodden turf in order to move the furniture, replace the telephones, clean the doors and other surfaces. These actions destroyed or contaminated and moved or compromised evidence, leading to the emergence of specific anomalies because of the chaos and bedlam (Evans, 2003). Firstly, the house was still in darkness when other law enforcement officers arrived, and this was as strange as if someone required lights to be on to dial the telephone for help (Evans, 2003). Secondly, the situation in the living room also looked strange. Taking into consideration the fact that MacDonald had fought with three armed male attackers in this confined space, it looked dissonantly pristine, because there was only an overturned coffee table, some disordered magazines, empty flowerpot that had strewn its contents across the carpet, and a fleck of blood on a pair of spectacles dropped in the corner (Evans, 2003). It is the reason why the technique of physical evidence used by death investigation experts did not support MacDonald’s story. Investigators allowed forty sets of fingerprints to be destroyed.
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However, death investigation also included an autopsy, CID reports, and FBI laboratory notes (Morris, 2012). Nevertheless, the major part of information obtained from these methods and techniques was purposefully suppressed (Evans, 2003). The investigation process was built on a theory that MacDonald invented a story about invaders as a cover, grounding it on the Manson family murders. It was backed up by the discovery found in the family living room on Esquire, and it provided details of these murders (Morris, 2012). However, it is important to mention that the quality of investigation methods was so poor that it required many days for the CID to realize that there were eighteen similarities with the current case by means of merely flipping through the blood-marked magazine (Evans, 2003).
Investigators ignored suppressed evidence, which indicated that someone else, not MacDonald, murdered the victims (Morris, 2012). During the trial, the prosecutor assured jurors that no proof was found to support MacDonald’s story, denying defense attorneys an inquiry to show laboratory notes. However, when these documents had been released through the Freedom of Information Act, the truth about house intruders was revealed. Firstly, there was skin particles under woman’s fingernail, but Macdonald’s injuries did not have fingernail scratches (Morris, 2012). Secondly, unmatched black wool fibers were found in woman’s mouth, shoulders, and the murder club. Investigators tried to connect this fact to house garments, but this attempt failed. Moreover, facts regarding the murder club were not presented to the jury (Morris, 2012). Thirdly, two-inch long pubic hair was also found, and it did not belong to MacDonald. Fourthly, the investigated acrylic fiber was not MacDonald’s one, as it was believed. It was also found in the place where the man was lying unconsciously (Owen, 2009). Fifthly, brown hair with root intact, which did not belong to MacDonald, was found under both girls’ fingernails (Owen, 2009). Sixthly, blonde synthetic wig hair was investigated in the hairbrush and near the phone, both indicated by the suspect as places of observing the blonde female (Owen, 2009). Finally, a bloody adult palm print did not belong to either Colette or Jeffrey MacDonald (Morris, 2012).
Media Representation and MacDonald’s Arrogance
The discussed case is not only an ever-lasting shade over the U.S. criminal justice system, but also the longest criminal investigation process covered by the national media. It was discussed during The Dick Cavett Show (Niemi, 2006). MacDonald behaved arrogantly, attempting to convince everyone of his truth. He accused investigators of changing the crime scene and hiding the evidence. The suspect also indulged in exaggeration that law enforcement officers had not taken into account the fact that he would be capable of inflicting twenty-three wounds on him, some of which appeared to be fatal (Niemi, 2006). MacDonald was not aware or contemptuous of the dangers involved when he was acting arrogantly like a matador taunting a dying bull (Evans, 2003). The fact that he rubbed criminologists’ nose in dirt publicly did not seem to be a smart move. This arrogance and elevated discussion of the case on TV shows stimulated the police to reopen investigations and gain enough evidence to make MacDonald encounter a grand jury. It was the time when arrogance and hostility boiled over. MacDonald faced the grand jury and shouted, “You can show all your f*cking evidence right up your as*” (Evans, 2003, p. 173). Regardless of the fact that he was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences, he continued to appear regularly on the TV, convincing that he was the victim of a frame (Niemi, 2006). Macdonald stood for a person talking a lot and did an unbeatable job, but overweening arrogance, continuous rambling during the actual crime, and bad-mouthing to the grand jury appeared to be calamitous utterance. Thus, his arrogance convicted him, even regardless of the fact that he did everything to show the truth.
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The analysis above demonstrates that MacDonald’s case appears to be one of the most long-lasting and haunting legal events, filled with the wrongful conviction and injustice. The fact that it is even currently discussed, 46 years after the murder, demonstrates that if his guilt were obvious, there would be no interest and emotions involved in the case discussion, and it would not proliferate and exist for such a long time. It shows malfeasance in investigation, hidden evidence, and their deliberate suppression by prosecutors. Nevertheless, this case shows that arrogance can help in convicting a person. MacDonald’s arrogance and continuous chattering backfired.