Triple murder suspect goes from guilty to innocent and back to guilty

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Story highlights

Soldier Tim Hennis convicted in 1986 and 2010 of murdering a mother and her two girls

Author: Hennis only American "tried for his life three times after guilty and not guilty verdicts"

The weird triple murder case calls into question the rules regarding double jeopardy

Hennis now sits on death row in a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

CNN  — 

Courtroom experts call it a one-of-kind murder mystery that some people believe has yet to be completely solved. The remarkable story of Timothy Hennis and the stabbing deaths of a mother and two small girls is full of shocking legal twists and turns.

During the course of 21 years, Hennis underwent three trials for the same crimes in three courtrooms. The case puts constitutional questions about double jeopardy squarely under the spotlight.

It all began in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1985. Hennis, who was then a 27-year-old Army soldier based at nearby Fort Bragg, visited the home of Kathryn Eastburn and her husband, Gary, a captain in the Air Force. The Eastburns were planning to move outside the country and had placed an ad in the newspaper to sell their dog. Hennis stopped by the house in response to the ad.

Four days later, when neighbors became concerned, police entered the home to find the bloody bodies of Kathryn Eastburn and two of her daughters. The youngest Eastburn child, a 22-month-old girl named Jana, was found in the house alive. Police said Gary Eastburn was undergoing training in Alabama at the time of the killings.