Local News

Convicted Killer Petrick Wants To Throw Out Plea In Fraud Case

Posted July 20, 2006
Updated December 10, 2006

— A Durham man convicted of killing his wife claims he was duped into a plea deal on fraud charges.

Robert Petrick, 54, filed a handwritten motion recently that contends his stand-by attorney, Mark Edwards, rushed him into the plea deal without fully explaining it to him. He pleaded guilty to charges of forging thousands of dollars of checks.

The motion asks that the judge throw out his "no contest" plea, which resulted in him serving 11 years in prison for the fraud charge.

"My plea was both unlawfully induced and made involuntarily without proper understanding of its consequences," Petrick wrote.

Petrick is serving a life sentence for killing his wife, Janine Sutphen, a cellist with the Durham Symphony. In 2003, Sutphen was found wrapped in a tarp, tied in duct tape and floating in Raleigh's Falls Lake.

The state medical examiner concluded that Sutphen, 57, had been suffocated and wrapped in sleeping bags with her legs chain. Petrick reported his wife missing on Jan. 22 after she failed to show up to a symphony rehearsal.

Petrick, who acted as his own attorney in both the murder and fraud cases, was found guilty of first-degree murder on Nov. 29, 2005. He has asked for his court-appointed attorney to handle his appeal.

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