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Fatal Justice: Reinvestigating the MacDonald Murders Paperback – January 23, 2013

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Editorial Reviews Review

Finally, many years after Joe McGinniss's famous Fatal Vision, we have a well-documented argument for the other side of the Jeffrey MacDonald case--an argument that the prosecution mishandled key crime-scene evidence, withheld potentially exculpatory material, and even discounted confessions from other suspects. Whether you change your mind about MacDonald's role in the murder of his family, you will learn much about the case that puts it in a new light. For example, the army narrowed in on MacDonald as their prime suspect very early in the investigation, and discouraged the FBI from developing alternate theories. And the judge in the case, Franklin Dupree Jr. appeared to have been biased in favor of the prosecution. Janet Malcolm, the New Yorker writer who wrote The Journalist and the Murderer (about MacDonald's relationship with McGinniss), called this book "quietly convincing."

From Library Journal

Following up on Joe McGinnis's controversial Fatal Vision (LJ 9/1/83), the authors conclude that Green Beret Captain Jeffrey MacDonald was not given a fair trial for the murder of his wife and daughters.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (April 17, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393315444
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393315448
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #654,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By David Browne on January 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
When I read Fatal Justice I was hoping for a work of investigative journalism that slugged it out over the evidence (I understand that it's supposed to be an answer to Fatal Vision by Joe McGinniss), but FJ puts anything that supports it's central thesis - no matter how minor - under a spotlight and happily glides over anything that doesn't, even the most persuasive physical evidence. There's also an annoying reliance on retrospective testimony and dark hints that a massive conspiracy had taken place (and possibly continues) to silence witnesses.

FJ presents a mix of conspiracy, misinterpretation and selective use of facts to stitch together a very contentious case for the innocence of the book's subject - who was found guilty of murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters. It's dull and repetitive and a lot of the "killer" facts can eaily be disputed, if not proven incorrect by a basic google search.

"Reinterpreting the Jeffrey MacDonald" case would be a more accurate sub-title as everything is put though a filter so that there can only be one conclusion. Like all conspiracies FJ is self referential and self fulfilling. The authors simply assign sinister motives to anyone that challenges their logic - the Army was out for revenge, the Justice Department wanted glory, the victim's father in law supposedly tuned on the subject because he moved to California! He then launched a life long quest to have him charged and convicted (anyone planning a move beware).

I think the authors mention that no one from the presecution side would take part. This may well be the case, but isn't an excuse to then throw out all the evidence, except that which supports your particular point of view.
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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful By bamaroots on February 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book just kept telling the same stuff over and over again which may be what some do to make a point, but in this case it got just a bit boring. The writer could just have made a list and put it on ever page. I have been interested in this case since the day I picked up my hometown newspaper and read the horrible headlines all those years ago. Maybe because I had daughters the same age as the McDonald children and another was on the way. I do believe there were many errors and wrongs done in the investigation and trial of McDonald, but it doesn't make him an innocent man. I don't presume to know his guilt or innocence.If he is guilty then I think he is a monster. Over the years I have read where he was announcing new evidence was forth coming that would prove him innocent, but that has not been the case. It does seem to me that as many times as he appealed his case he would have at least gotten a new trial but that hasn't happened either. It hasn't been just the judge and investigators in the original trial who have looked at all the evidence and questions of wrong doing. I am swayed to believe him guilty for the following reasons: The blood evidence,his injuries being so minor compared to what was inflicted on his family,the blue fibers found in so many places, his obvious lie about his own injuries on the Dick Cavett Show, and his in-laws turning from full support of him to belief in his guilt. I was hoping this book would show convincing argument to counter this evidence. It didn't. It may have proven that he didn't get a fair trial, but it gave no convincing argument to counter those points.
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72 of 90 people found the following review helpful By J. Green on August 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
I think the authors of this book took a lesson from Michael Moore in propaganda. Or perhaps Oliver Stone.

This book pretends to be a "re-investigation," but is nothing of the sort. It is a one-sided money-grab that was written with the help of the MacDonald defense team. In fact, Jeff MacDonanld himself assisted with the final editing. The book is not only factually inaccurate, but it omits much valuable information. Such as: 1) Gunderson & Beasely (the books' primary sources) were trying to shop a movie deal in which they "solved" the case; 2) Gunderson (a first class wack job) later reported that the so-called cult was trying to kill him, causing him to live life on the run; 3) Gunderson & Beasely posted bail for Stoekly's husband & promised them they would be provided with jobs & new identities in California in exchange for their "testimonies," which they later recanted anyway.

The authors' also try to convince the reader that Stoekley was a reliable source, but the truth is she would say anything to anyone, and recanted her so-called "confessions" many times. At other times, she reported that she saw MacDonald kill his family. Nothing she said can be taken seriously.

Further, the authors make large use of FOIA documents, but are deceitful in their use of them. For example, they report one note in which an investigator describes the failure of a match on a hair found at the crime scene, and says "this won't be reported by me." What the authors don't show you is the complete note, in which it becomes clear that the analyst is simply reporting that she is not going to label the hair, because another analyst will catalog and write the final report.
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