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Decade after wife's death, Peterson continues to seek vindication

Posted December 2, 2011

— After eight years in prison for his wife's murder, Mike Peterson says he's realistic when it comes to his legal appeals, but he continues a quest for a new trial and hopefully clear his name.

"I've seen that it didn't work out (before), so now I'm older and wiser, and I'm saying I'm hopeful," Peterson said Thursday in an interview with WRAL News at Nash Correctional Institution, where he is serving a life prison sentence.

Now, Peterson hopes to get another chance at a new trial next week – almost 10 years to the day that Kathleen Peterson was found in a pool of blood at the bottom of a staircase inside the couple's upscale Durham home.

The latest gambit focuses on expert testimony during his 2003 murder trial from Duane Deaver, a blood analyst who the State Bureau of Investigation fired in January.

An independent review of the SBI crime lab last year found that blood evidence was misstated or falsely reported in about 200 criminal cases between 1987 and 2003. Some of the most egregious cases cited in the review were linked to Deaver.

Peterson said he believes Deaver created what he calls "outrageous" experiments dealing with blood evidence to prove Kathleen Peterson was murdered.

"He's a liar. He's a crook. He's a fraud," he said. "There was no murder, but there was no murder as far as anybody is concerned – even the police – until Duane Deaver walked into that house."

Peterson, who still wears his wedding ring, said he wants to know as much as anyone what happened to his wife on the night of Dec. 9, 2001.

Mike Peterson in prison Web only: Peterson discusses quest for new trial

"I don't know (how she died). My belief at the time was that she fell," he said, noting that different theories have been put forth over the years.

Deaver's testimony was a critical factor in his conviction, he said, but he acknowledges that some people will likely never believe in his innocence, even if he gets a new trial and is acquitted.

"Many people won't change their mind. I understand that, but I'm hoping some people will," he said.

Attorney David Rudolf, who represented Peterson in the original trial, offered to work for free in requesting a new trial when he heard about problems with the SBI crime lab and the criticisms of Deaver's work.

A hearing for the new trial had been scheduled for Monday, but it's been pushed back by at least one day because of an ongoing feud between Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline and Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson.

Cline wants Hudson off all criminal cases in Durham County, including Peterson's, alleging that he is biased against her.

Peterson said he doesn't want to get in the "rock fight," saying his case is about the SBI's work and not about Hudson or Cline.

"All I'm hoping for is that, when this happens, everybody can focus on what this is really about," he said.

Mike Peterson in prison Peterson again tries to clear his name in wife's death

Still, he said he thinks Hudson is best suited to hear his case because he presided over the 2003 trial, despite the judge ruling frequently against the defense both before and during the trial.

"Nobody knows this case better than Judge Hudson," he said.

Cline also has asked the North Carolina Attorney General's Office to assume responsibility of the case from her.

Several of Peterson's relatives are in town for the court hearing, as is a French film crew that made a documentary about the original trial.

Meanwhile, family members who think Peterson is guilty say the repeated appeals and requests for a new trial are extremely hard on them.

"Eventually, I'm going to get out of here, if i just live long enough. That is my belief," he said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • anne53ozzy Dec 5, 2011

    A person with his personality disorder will never stop trying to convince the public he should go free. In spite of the history of Deaver, the blood spatters on his clothing are hard to explain. In addition, I do not think an owl would repeatedly attack a person in a home and do the kind of damage done to her.
    By nature, these birds attack small prey are flee from larger ones.

  • Jack Flash Dec 5, 2011

    I saw that A&E documentary called "The Staircase" and my mind was (briefly) blown thinking he was innocent... then I went on imdb and saw comments reminding me of all the evidence the documentary left out. And then in the DVD extras, the film crew commented that they were looking for someone whose story they believed. That made it pretty clear to me that they had tweaked their story to fit the conclusion they wanted, much like Michael Moore does too often.

  • lonifaye892 Dec 5, 2011

    i think that he is innocent really i do i ope he can prove some of us right that still belive in him... thats all to it and they are trying to make it sem like he killed her come on she been gone for 10yrs why cant they just let her rest in peace let him be free and did he take a poloy graph...um no i dnt think so..so why torment him for somthing he didnt do i hope justice comes of this if he did but like i said theres plenty of us out here who believe he didnt do it

  • fayncmike Dec 5, 2011

    "Why is Deaver not in prison for life without parole? He should be as he has caused so much legal terrorism in these cases. I would hope that Peterson gets a new trial or that the evidence is subjected to an independent review. Did he ever undergo a polygraph? If he is innocent I hope he is exonerated. I believe we all agree it was murder, but was he the perpetrator?"

    Considering the rotten work the SBI has done and the rotten prosecutors, not only he but every prisoner where there is even a speck of doubt should be retried.

  • Here2tellya Dec 5, 2011

    After seeing this story again on CI over the weekend. I'm more convinced than ever that he is guilty and should stay exactly where he is. This is a waste of time and energy. Give it up mike, you dont deserve one more minute in the spot light and that's exactly what this is all about. There is no new evidence or suspects so why would there be a new trial? A jury has already found you guilty just accept it and beg for forgivness. Maybe what's left of your family will come to terms with it somehow.

  • quaten Dec 2, 2011

    >>I don't give a HOOT!

    Me either. Another trial is okay, maybe some new evidence will show up, maybe not. Either way, it give the lawyers and prosecutors a chance to hone their skills - which is a good idea.

  • BrightLight Dec 2, 2011

    I don't give a HOOT!

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 2, 2011

    The big question is why isn't Deaver in prison?

    With him having falsified evidence in at least 200 cases with some resulting in convictions of innocent people, he's commited the biggest crime of all which is planting doubt in the public's mind about the integrity of our legal system.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 2, 2011

    Peterson was railroaded by the Durham DA.

    They never proved he killed his wife. They also never determined what the murder weapon was.

  • Screw WrAl Dec 2, 2011

    This guy is a loon.