Jury selection underway in Hennis court-martial

Master Sgt. Timothy B. Hennis

March 2, 2010 9:21:48 PM PST
Jury selection has begun in the military court-martial of retired soldier, Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis.

In 2006, the Army forced Hennis, who was retired, back into active duty to face charges in a 1985 triple slaying. According to the Army, new DNA evidence was found by civilian investigators, linking Hennis to the stabbing deaths of Kathryn Eastburn and her two daughters, Kara and Erin.

Hennis has filed a federal lawsuit claiming the Army can't try him in the case because a civilian jury acquitted him in 1989 after the NC Supreme Court overturned his initial conviction in 1986.

Lawyers contend Hennis is constitutionally protected against being tried twice for the same crime under double jeopardy rules. The federal judge hearing the lawsuit has given prosecutors until next week to provide more information.

The judge hasn't made a decision on if the military can try him.

Meanwhile in a Fort Bragg courtroom Tuesday morning, a military judge refused defense request to continue the proceedings.

So the process of selecting a panel began. Nineteen soldiers, officers and enlisted men and women were asked their views on the death penalty, if they head of or read about the case, were they ever victims of crime themselves. So far one panel member has been excused.

Selecting the 12 jurors could take a week.

The court-martial issue could take a month or more. If convicted, Hennis could face the death penalty.

Among the spectators in court Tuesday was Gary Eastburn, the father and husband of the victims. It is not known if he will testify in the case.

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