Local News

Still Busy Days Ahead Before Opening Statements In Mike Peterson Trial

Posted June 25, 2003
Updated December 9, 2006

— Although jury selection is over in the Mike Peterson murder trial, there is still a lot of work to be done before opening statements begin next week.

Peterson is the Durham novelist accused of killing his wife.

There will be several hearings over the next couple of days about the case. In an anticipated move, Peterson's lawyers have filed motions asking that key evidence be thrown out, including information in the autopsy reports and information about the couple's finances.

Peterson's lawyers are trying to pick apart the prosecution, piece by piece. They don't want anyone from the state medical examiner's office to testify about what may have caused the wounds that killed Kathleen Peterson.

In court papers, the defense claims Dr. Deborah Radisch went beyond the scope of her scientific analysis. In her autopsy report, Dr. Radisch concluded that the deep cuts on the back of Kathleen Peterson's head were not consistent with a fall but rather the result of a beating.

Peterson's lawyers argue that conclusion is based on assumption instead of fact, and they want the judge to keep the jury from hearing it. They also question the validity of the prosecution's blood spatter expert. They say testimony about the blood stains in the stairwell would also be based on opinion and not science.

In another motion, the defense is trying to keep out information about the Petersons' finances. They say the couple was not having any money problems. They argue that if no direct link is established between financial gain and Kathleen's death, then introducing financial records as evidence would simply be asking the jury to speculate on a motive.

The district attorney's office will not talk about the case. But on Thursday, prosecutors will argue in court that these are not just anyone's opinions but those of experts.

Wednesday, another hearing is scheduled. The defense team is trying to show that Durham detectives lied under oath.

Peterson's lawyers want local media outlets, including WRAL, to tell the judge all they know about any information the officers may have given them about the case.

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