Last month the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Gamble v. United States, No. 17-646 (link to docket page). The question presented is:
Whether the Court should overrule the “separate sovereigns” exception to the Double Jeopardy Clause.
That grant could affect the conviction of Army Master Sergeant Timothy Hennis, who is one of only four current residents on military death row (our #2 Military Justice Story of 2016 ) (the others are Gray, Akbar, and Hasan).
In 2010 a general court-martial convicted Master Sergeant Timothy Hennis (U.S. Army Ret.) of three specifications of premeditated murder and sentenced him to death, our #2 military justice story of 2010. The case involved the gruesome rape and murder of Kathryn Eastburn, the wife of an Air Force captain who was out of town on temporary duty, and also the murder of the Eastburn’s two daughters, in 1985. Hennis was tried three times for those crimes: twice by North Carolina authorities and then finally by a court-martial. The first trial resulted in a conviction and death seantence, but it was reversed by the North Carolina Supreme Court in 1988. A retrial resulted in an acquittal in 1989 and Hennis was reinstated in the Army and eventually transferred to the retired list where – like every other active duty retiree – Hennis remained subject to the UCMJ. But advances in DNA allowed investigators to determine with scientific certainty that sperm found in the body of the murdered woman came from Hennis, and he was recalled to active duty in 2006, tried by court-martial for the murders, convicted, and again sentenced to death.