RICHMOND, Va. -- A federal appeals court in Virginia spent about 45 minutes Tuesday questioning lawyers about the latest bid for a new trial for a former Army doctor convicted in the 1970 slayings of his pregnant wife and two daughters.

Jeffrey MacDonald is serving three life terms for the 1970 murders that spawned the book and TV miniseries "Fatal Vision." He is asking the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to allow him to introduce new evidence, including DNA tests and sworn statements by two people who are now dead, supporting his claim of innocence.

MacDonald has always maintained that four drug-crazed hippies killed his family in their Fort Bragg, N.C., home.

His wife of nine years, Kathryn MacDonald, said after the hearing that she was encouraged by the appeals court's questioning. A ruling is expected in a few weeks.