28 April 2002 | joesmith2007
When I first saw this movie over 10 years ago, it convinced me of MacDonald's guilt. I saw it again last night and this time I'm not so sure.
This movie is looking more and more like a propaganda film, intended to cement the audience's hatred of MacDonald, and convince the audience that he is, indeed, guilty. That's quite frightening -- what if it's not the only one like this? What if many Hollywood movies are, in fact, propaganda? Isn't that what we accused certain dictators of making over the past 100 century.
After I watched last night's showing, I went to MacDonald's website. Yes, I know, if I'm worried about "propaganda", I have to view his site with skepticism too. And I did. Yet I couldn't help coming to an uneasy conclusion: if MacDonald really is guilty, why is he so willing to have his DNA tested?
After all, if you are guilty of murder -- and knowing that mitochondrial DNA testing is highly accurate today -- you know for a fact that if you agree to DNA testing, you will be caught. Yet MacDonald is willing to go ahead with it. Sorry, but I just can not shirk the nagging feeling that this means he is convinced of his own innocence (notice I said "convinced" -- it may well be that he did indeed commit the murders, but is so horrified about them that they are now part of his repressed memory and he, in fact, believes he did not commit them!).
The other thing that disturbs me is that the North Carolina prosecutors themselves seem very reluctant to allow full DNA testing. For instance, they are willing to allow nuclear DNA (requiring a larger sample size) or mitochondrial DNA testing, but not both.
Why not? Wouldn't you, as a prosecutor, want to exhaust every possible avenue to find a killer? How can there be such a thing as "too much" information when trying to solve a murder? I find this disturbing. In fact, combined with MacDonald's willingness to undergo DNA testing, I find the prosecutors' reluctance to be evidence that they are far less than certain that they convicted the right man for the crime. Perhaps the prosecutors have something to hide?
In conclusion, I must also agree with another writer that perhaps the most perplexing (and disturbing) aspect of this case that alludes to MacDonald's innocence is the apparent lack of motive. There seems to be no financial nor love-triangle motivation for MacDonald to kill his family.
There is a phenomenon known as "family annihilators", men who kill their entire family because they sense impending ruin (usually financial), and feel that their family can not survive without them. In their misguided way, these men believe they are doing their family a favour by killing them, saving them from the misery that follows financial ruin. However, these men invariably break down in court and completely confess to such crimes. MacDonald didn't do that. So that explanation is likely out of the picture for him, especially since the movie does not portray him as facing imminent financial ruin.
Sometime later in 2002 the full mitochondrial DNA test will be performed. Stay tuned; the results will have significant ramifications. If, in fact, the test results cast doubt on MacDonald's guilt, the producers of "Fatal Vision" will have a lot of explaining to do ...