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No quick ruling in Hennis case

Master Sgt. Timothy B. Hennis
February 25, 2010 9:00:00 PM PST
A federal judge has declined to immediately rule on whether to halt the court-martial of a retired soldier accused in a 25-year-old triple slaying.

Timothy Hennis, a former Army sergeant, is charged with the 1985 murders of Kathryn Eastburn and her two daughters, ages 3 and 5. He was convicted in a state court in 1986.

Hennis got a new trial and was acquitted in 1989 after the NC Supreme Court ruled there were mistakes in the first trial.

Now, he faces a court-martial at Fort Bragg.

The Army recalled him to active duty to begin proceedings. Prosecutors say DNA evidence links Hennis to the crime, but his lawyers are trying to get the case dropped, claiming the Army doesn't have jurisdiction.

Hennis's defense says in a federal lawsuit that once a soldier is discharged, he cannot be brought to court-martial for any crimes that happened before he was released from the service. They cited a 1986 Supreme Court case in their petition.

Federal judge Terrence Boyle said Friday that he would try to rule quickly. The court-martial of Hennis is set to begin on Tuesday.

Hennis was discharged from the Army in 1986. But after his acquittal in 1989, that was recalculated and he was given an honorable discharge with credit for three more years of service.

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