@david h. McGinniss! I'm cut to the quick. I was facetiously exaggerating when I said the author of the article should read the book--I guess that didn't come across, though given your spelling correction, you seem to be a very literal-minded person, so I'm sure facetiousness would have been lost on you even if I'd framed it more clearly. Obviously, the article's writer has some glancing familiarity with the book, and I'm sure he's acting in good faith and telling the truth when he says he read it, but he either read hurriedly and carelessly, or, he began it with a great deal of confirmation bias of his own. There's simply no way that anyone could read it carefully and objectively and write the article he has written. There is no way to square the copious physical evidence in this case with MacDonald's version of events. As one out of innumerable examples, one could cite MacDonald's claim that the pajama top got the icepick holes in it while it was tangled around his hands and he was fighting an assailant who was stabbing at him with the pick. It was during this part of the fight, MacDonald says, that the top got the dozens of holes in it. MacDonald had not one wound on his hands or forearms. Not one. Moreover, the holes in the top are neat and round. The top was clearly stationary when the holes were made. Had the top been in motion when the holes were made, as it would necessarily have been if MacDonald was telling the truth--since you don't stand still while somebody is trying to stab you with an icepick and you are trying to get your pajama top untangled from your hands so you can fight them off--the holes would have been ripped, jagged, and elongated. The author of this piece speaks at length about the pajama top and fails to mention these details, which to me confirms that he either didn't read carefully or read with bias. (Indeed, Morris's quoted statement re: the origami defense suggests that he, too, doesn't really get the significance of this.) And now that I think about it, he misrepresents the prosecution's key contentions by failing to mention the fact that every member of the MacDonald family had a different blood type and the locations and amounts of blood in the house directly contradict innumerable points of MacDonald's story. This blood "trail" was crucial to their case, at least as important as any of the four bullet points. Again, if one is willing to concede that MacGuinnnnessss isn't lying outright about the physical evidence that was found and presented in court, nothing else really matters--not whether McG was slimy, not whether the prosecutor got busted for embezzlement, not whether Stoeckley said and then denied and then said and then denied that she was at the scene that night, not whether one naturally wants to root for the underdog convict against the military police, and not even whether the investigators proceeded from confirmation bias (though there is no evidence of this--quite the opposite. Colette MacDonald's father had to beg the Justice Department to look at the case files after MacDonald was initially acquitted). Again, I can't believe I'm writing this much, nor can I believe how much I know about this book, but it's unbelievable to me that anyone could consider this case unproven, and it just gets on my nerves tremendously to see so many people speaking and writing from what certainly appears to be ignorance. It's just the principle of it--it sort of feels like listening to someone who's never watched the Zapruder film explaining how John F. Kennedy shot Lee Harvey Oswald. And that is the end of my ranting on this topic.
Helene Stoeckley's testimony has been discredited again and again and again. It was never credible to begin with. All you have to do is actually read the book. Unless McGuinness was literally making up the contents of the court transcripts and fabricating the evidentiary findings, there's no doubt that MacDonald killed his wife and children. The whole point of the book is that it accrues detail on detail on detail, leaving no doubt in any careful reader's mind (again, presuming McGuinness was not outright lying about the facts of the case, which no one has ever contended) of what happened. McGuinness also offers very convincing evidence of why and how this upstanding man could have committed this act. A couple of details from the book that I recall: The chief of military police, arriving at the crime scene, immediately assumes that the scene in the living room (where MacDonald says he fought the intruders who killed his family) has been staged. The MP knows that MacDonald, a Green Beret officer in superb shape, claims to have had a mortal battle with three drugged-out club- and ice-pick-weilding maniacs in the room. There is no blood, and the only disorder is a few knocked-over greeting cards and a knocked-over coffee table and potted plant. Have you ever seen two men seriously fighting, let alone four people? You're talking about big 200-pound objects (their bodies) hurtling through the air--plus weapons, in this case. Had MacDonald's story been true, the room would have been a mess. The cop thinks to himself that he has "seen poker games" that leave rooms in worse shape. Another detail: A copy of Esquire with a story about the Manson murders and crazed murderous hippies (which, MacDonald claims, is what killed his family) is found in the room. A track of blood, suggesting a trail left by the thumb of a person paging through the magazine, is found on the pages. It's MacDonald's blood type. Oh--and, MacDonald was a doctor. While the rest of his family was stabbed and stabbed and clubbed and clubbed, savagely, he had one small, neat wound in the chest (plus a few other bruises and scratches so minor they didn't even require treatment when he got to the hospital--not even bandaging), inconsistent with any of the wounds made by the knives used on his wife and daughters, and consistent in angle and in other respects with a self-inflicted wound. And this isn't even getting into the inconsistencies between the physical evidence and MacDonald's account, which damn him over and over again. Just read Fatal Vision people, as I wish this writer had done before writing the piece. I have no idea why I care, I'm not invested in this one way or the other, but something about the idea of someone as respected as Errol Morris coming out against the obvious truth, when we so desperately need people like Morris to defend truth in the face of our increasingly mendacious public discourse, really really bothers me.