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Jury Profile May Benefit Defense In Mike Peterson Trial

Posted June 13, 2003
Updated December 9, 2006

— The jury of Mike Peterson's peers does not include one single white male. Some defense lawyers claim it probably happened by design.

"In most cases, the first juror you want to get rid of is a middle-class white male," attorney Mark Edwards said. "They're the most conservative juror there is and they're more likely to believe what police have done and what the prosecution presents."

Peterson is charged with the death of his wife, Kathleen, at the couple's home in December 2001. Peterson's lawyers claim Durham police contaminated the crime scene. They plan to show officers held a grudge against the Durham novelist who once wrote articles criticizing the department.

That strategy may also play into the racial makeup of the jury. Nine members of the jury are black and three members are white.

"Typically, you like minorities on these cases. The theory being they've been victimized in the past by the powers that be, by the authorities, by the police and do not feel they've been treated fairly by the prosecutor's office," Edwards said.

"You want people up there not taking what an officer says at face value," attorney Scott Holmes said.

Blacks may fit that bill and studies show women may, too. The Peterson jury includes eight women.

"Women go deeper than men in terms of facts and want more of the story and more of the context," Holmes said.

The prosecution did accept some white men as jurors, but since the defense is last up in jury selection process, Peterson's lawyers were able to get rid of them.

Two potential alternate jurors were dismissed Thursday in the Mike Peterson trial.


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