Mike Peterson wants Durham police, DA emails showing bias against him
Posted May 6, 2016
Durham, N.C. — A motion filed Thursday by Mike Peterson's defense attorney claims Durham police targeted the novelist as a suspect in his wife's murder, so they want all emails and documents relating to the contentious relationship between Peterson and law enforcement.
Peterson was convicted in 2003 following one of the longest trials in North Carolina history of killing Kathleen Peterson, who was found dead in a pool of blood at the bottom of a staircase in the couple's upscale Durham home on Dec. 9, 2001.
In the motion, his defense argues that the Durham Police Department and the Durham County District Attorney's Office were so incensed by critical columns Peterson wrote for the Durham Herald-Sun newspaper between 1997 and 1999 that they quickly focused their investigation on him.
"The manner in which Mrs. Peterson's death was investigated by the Durham Police Department and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, as well as the speed with which the Durham District Attorney sought to indict Michael Peterson, indicate that there was an overwhelming desire to charge Mr. Peterson with the death of his wife," the motion states.
Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson threw out Peterson's conviction in December 2011, ruling that a former State Bureau of Investigation blood analyst lied on the witness stand, misleading jurors about his expertise and using questionable tests on evidence found in the Peterson home.
Peterson is now awaiting a retrial.
The motion notes that, a year after Peterson's first trial, the state adopted open-file discovery statutes, which now require law enforcement to turn over all notes, evidence and test results from their investigation to the defense before a trial.
"If there were any communications, written or otherwise, that were generated within the Durham Police Department, or any other law enforcement agency, evincing any animosity towards, or bias against, Mr. Peterson as a result of his criticism of law enforcement, it is doubtful the Durham Police Department would have disclosed the same (during the 2003 trial)," the motion states. "However, such communications now are required to be disclosed pursuant to the North Carolina statutes governing open-file discovery."
A hearing is scheduled for later this month on a motion Peterson's attorney filed in March, questioning how evidence from his first trial has been maintained.