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Defense: Saving money no reason to block Mike Peterson retrial

Posted March 6, 2013

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— Attorneys for Durham novelist and one-time mayoral candidate Mike Peterson argue in new court documents that state attorneys are less than forthright in their appeal of a judge's order granting him a new trial.

The Attorney General's Office filed a writ of certiorari in December, asking the North Carolina Court of Appeals to review Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson's December 2011 decision to set aside Peterson's murder conviction, noting that a reversal would preclude the time and expense of a new trial.

In their response, which was filed Tuesday, Peterson's attorneys said any appeal could be based on saving money. Rather, they said, prosecutors are simply trying to avoid a new trial because they have a weak case.

"The state’s argument that it should be relieved of the expense and burden of a retrial through this appeal is belied by its argument in the appeal that its evidence is 'overwhelming,'” the motion states. "The fact is that the state wishes to avoid a retrial not because of the expense, but because of the reality that its case is far less strong without Agent Deaver’s 'scientific' opinions to bolster its theories."

Former State Bureau of Investigation blood analyst Duane Deaver was a key prosecution witness in Peterson's 2003 trial. Hudson ruled that he misled jurors about his expertise and used questionable tests on evidence found in the Peterson home after Kathleen Peterson's Dec. 9, 2001, death.

Deaver was fired by the SBI two years ago amid an independent review of suspect practices at the state crime lab.

Defense attorneys said state law precludes an appeal of Hudson's ruling because it was based solely on violations of Peterson's constitutional right to a fair trial. The state could appeal if it was based on newly discovered evidence, they said.

If the Court of Appeals decides to hear the case, it likely would be argued in June or July and a ruling made by the fall.

If the appeal is denied, Durham County District Attorney Leon Stanback would have to decide whether to retry Peterson, dismiss the case or try to reach a plea agreement.

After eight years in prison, Peterson has spent the last year under house arrest in Durham while awaiting his retrial.

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  • westernwake1 Mar 6, 2013

    "His being part of a trial doesn't give a 'get out of jail' card to everyone." - djofraleigh

    There are over 200 cases that will be re-tried in North Carolina because Duane Deaver was found to be less than truthful. This is not about the science of blood splatter, it is about incorrect untruthful testimony by the state's 'expert'. Deaver was fired because he deliberately lied in multiple cases.

    The retrials are not a 'get out of jail free card' - many inmates may be convicted again based on other evidence. However all the cases will be re-tried at the state's expense and the everything is in motion across the state at this point to make these re-trials occur.

  • djofraleigh Mar 6, 2013

    lying former State Bureau of Investigation blood analyst Duane Deaver -- COMMENT

    The state of the art of blood splatter that was accepted back then is not now. That part of it is not Deaver's doing, and everything Deaver said was not a lie. His being part of a trial doesn't give a 'get out of jail' card to everyone.

  • djofraleigh Mar 6, 2013

    What's money got to do with anything? Well, it has to do with everything. As for believing Peterson being involved with two women dying from falling down the stairs being coincidence, I guess that could be true, and is there anything so arrogant in Peteson's personality that would give him the ego to murder, I don't know.

  • westernwake1 Mar 6, 2013

    At this point every trial that lying former State Bureau of Investigation blood analyst Duane Deaver was part of will get a re-trial in our state. This includes approx. 200 convictions; the Peterson case is just one of them.