Local News

First Week of Peterson Trial Comes to Emotional End

Posted July 3, 2003
Updated January 1, 2007

— The first week of the Mike Peterson conclued with perhaps the most emotional day of testimony of the first three.

Caitlin Atwater, the daughter of Kathleen Peterson, sat in the front row and sobbed Thursday morning. From the perspective of at least one reporter in the courtrrom as the room seemed to get very small for five minutes.

Defense attorney David Rudolf was in the middle of cross-examining a Durham firefighter about what he saw when he arrived at the Peterson house on Dec. 9 at the time of Atwater's breakdown.

They have a big projection screen on the wall, about 4x4 across the from the jury. What they did during the cross examination was put up a picture of Kathleen Peterson sprawled at the bottom of the stairs covered in blood.

The picture sat up there for about five minutes. The scene was described as perhaps the most uncomfortable five minutes of the trial to date.

During that time also had been the identification of slippers that a witness had identified as belonging to Kathleeen Peterson. But it was the photo of Kathleen Peterson that seemed to have the greatest effect on the courtroom.

Mike Peterson looked at the picture for a few minutes and then quickly looked away. The Ratliff children, Ratliff and Todd Peterson, sat there with their heads hung low.

The jurors seemed keenly aware of the whaty was goingon, of the tension and emotion of the courtroom. Several of them reportedly cast their eyes down and wouldn't look at the picture.

On the first day, when opening statements were presented, the jurors had trouble looking at similar pictures of the scene -- photos that show the lacerations -- and seemed equally disturbed -- pictures which have been described as "very disturbing."

The jurors seemed upset, visibly shaken. But reportedly, they seem to have handled the evidence well.

WRAL's Julia Lewis reported Thursday that some of the jurors went across the street to a church during their lunch break and stayed there for "quite a bit of time" before heading back to the courthouse.

Testimony resumes Monday at 11 a.m. Another worker at Nortel Networks and SBI investigator who deals with financial records. "It should be dry testimony," Lewis said.


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