Fayetteville, NC -- April 26, 1989 -- On Mother's Day in 1985, Erin and Kara Eastburn, were found murdered in their home along with their mother, Katie Eastburn.
U.S. Army Sgt. Tim Hennis was convicted of raping and murdering Eastburn and stabbing her two daughters to death. The court sentenced him to die in the state's gas chamber.
An eyewitness identified Hennis as the man seen near the woman's home about the time of the crime wearing a black beret and "Members' Only" jacket, and carrying a black bag.
The authorities tested blood, semen and hair samples, none of these tests revealed a match with Mr. Hennis's characteristics. There was no physical evidence connecting Hennis to the crime scene.
The state Supreme Court granted Hennis a new trial on grounds that the state displayed over 100 gruesome photographs of the crime scene to the jury, displaying them on a wall right above Hennis' head.
At the new trial, Hennis's lawyer presented evidence showing that the eyewitness could have mistaken Hennis for another man who had been in the neighborhood at the time of the murders.
He also showed, through his own investigation, that police had questioned this man and seized from him a black beret, "Members' Only" jacket and black bag.
Those items had been in the trunk of a police car during Hennis's first trial.
The jury found Hennis not guilty.