Local News

Prosecution Approves 12th Juror In Mike Peterson Trial

Posted June 10, 2003
Updated December 9, 2006

— After Judge Orlando Hudson dismissed a potential juror Tuesday in the Mike Peterson trial, the prosecution then accepted another to bring the total to 12.

Hudson dismissed for a cause a 64-year-old Sunday School teacher, who said she did not think she could look at pornographic material.

The prosecution then questioned and accepted a 44-year-old African-American man. The man spent seven years in the Air Force and lived in Germany near Rhein Main Air Force Base, where Peterson once lived.

The defense will question the man Wednesday and either accept or eliminate him.

Jury selection ended early Tuesday because lead defense attorney David Rudolf had to go to the state Court of Appeals to argue the appeal of former Carolina Panther Rae Carruth, who is in prison on murder conspiracy charges in the death of his girlfriend.

Tuesday's events came after another juror in the murder trial was seated Monday. The 54-year-old African-American man, who works for the State Utilities Commission, joined two other men and eight women on the jury.

Also Monday, Rudolf called a special hearing and put police detectives under the microscope.

Rudolf told Hudson he thinks members of the police department are leaking information to the media. Two of the department's top homicide detectives took the stand and both denied giving reporters any information about the case.

Peterson, a Durham novelist and former mayoral candidate, is accused of murdering his wife, Kathleen, in December 2001. Peterson contends she died from an accidental fall down a steep, dimly lit stairway in the couple's home.

Police and prosecutors say Kathleen Peterson was murdered, citing evidence such as deep gashes to the back of her head.

Kathleen Peterson's death was similar to the 1985 death of Elizabeth Ratliff, a friend of Peterson's when he lived in Germany. Like Peterson's wife, Ratliff was found dead at the bottom of a stairway.

At the time, medical examiners ruled that Ratliff's death was a result of a naturally occurring brain hemorrhage. But her body was autopsied in April at the request of District Attorney Jim Hardin, and a medical examiner said the injuries indicated homicide.

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