Murder suspect faces hearing at Fort Bragg
July 23, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Army News Service, July 23, 2009) -- A master sergeant appeared in court at Fort Bragg Wednesday morning for a hearing stemming from the 1985 murders of an Air Force captain's wife, Katheryn Eastburn, and her two children Erin and Kara.
Master Sgt. Timothy B. Hennis appeared in court, without a jury present, in order to call witnesses. The hearing, also known as a 39A, is equivalent to a civilian pre-trial hearing. Hennis was recalled to Army active duty in order to stand trial for the Fort Bragg murders.
Military judge Col. Patrick Parrish said the old court house will continue to be used for the Hennis court proceedings while the new court house is undergoing renovation work.
Parrish began by asking the prosecution team to call their witnesses. Witnesses were Detectives Ronald Oakes, Jack Watts Jr., and Robert Bittle. Oakes was a detective at the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office in 1985; Watts was the lead homicide investigator for the CCSO, and Bittle was a CCSO deputy sheriff.
The prosecution and defense teams questioned the witnesses on their photo line-up procedures.
No motions brought up in court resulted in a ruling. They included a defense motion to compel production of witnesses, which is related to the defense's desire to suppress several eyewitness identifications, and a defense motion for a trial continuance to mid-January 2010.
The defense argued in favor of calling witnesses to testify, since they claim the eyewitness identification itself was unreliable, and the government was opposed by saying it was unnecessary to do so.
The defense said they needed more time to better prepare for the trial and suggested mid-January 2010 as the next date. The prosecution, citing ill and deceased witnesses, opted for October of this year for the courts-martial date or February of 2010, in order to allow more time after the holidays to arrange travel for the witnesses.
The defense has until Aug. 6 to address additional issues, like double jeopardy and due process, and present ongoing expert analysis tests at the next 39A hearing.