Local News

Mike Peterson Responds To Criticism From Kathleen Peterson's Family, Network Segment

Posted April 12, 2002
Updated December 9, 2006

— The decision to let a network camera crew show the bloody stairwell where Kathleen Peterson died is receiving a lot of heat. On Thursday, Mike Peterson reacted to all of the criticism.

In a recent news segment on ABC's "20/20," forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee was seen retrieving a piece of hair from the stairwell where Kathleen died.

Candace Hunt Zamperini, Kathleen Peterson's sister, told WRAL that family members were shocked when they found out about the crime scene on "20/20." They blamed and sharply criticized Mike Peterson and his attorney David Rudolf.

On Thursday in a statement, Mike Peterson responded by saying,

"On the one hand, she proclaims to the press that she is in favor of the public release of her sister's autopsy photos... On the other hand, Mrs. Zamperini purports "shock and horror" about 10 seconds of video of Dr. Henry Lee.... a video that does not identify Kathleen, our home, or anything about her death, and that none of Kathleen's immediate relatives even saw. This is truly hypocrisy."

Peterson also went on to say that Kathleen and her sister had a strained relationship for years and that he is offended that she would speak on Kathleen's behalf.

Rudolf said when his client goes on trial for his wife's murder, he wants to have it in Durham for two reasons.

Rudolf said people in the community know Peterson and the kind of relationship he had with Kathleen and there are questions about how Durham police handled the case.

"I think everyone knows the strengths and shortcomings of the Durham Police Department," Rudolf said.

From the start, Rudolf has claimed police officers compromised evidence by letting people walk in and out of the Peterson mansion while Kathleen's body sat at the bottom of the staircase.

"This didn't happen. That didn't happen. That's contaminated -- it's very similar to what they did in the O.J. Simpson case," attorney James "Butch" Williams said.

Williams said the Peterson defense team will likely put the Durham Police Department on trial.

"They're going to go after them from two standpoints: track record and past history," he said.

That track record includes an evidence technician

who admitted destroying evidence in a previous case. That technician is gone, but Williams said the damage is done.

"It will probably be raised to show the level of incompetence," Williams said.

District Attorney Jim Hardin would not comment Thursday about the case, but in the past he has defended the police.

"I am absolutely confident in the police work that was done in this case. It was done in a methodical and detailed way," Hardin said in an earlier interview.

Williams said if the strand of hair found by Dr. Lee in the stairwell belonged to someone other than Mike or Kathleen Peterson, that could open the door for an intruder theory.

Several days after the murder, Durham police decided to stop talking about the case. On Thursday, they did not comment about the case.


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