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Defense Attorneys Allege Police Biased Toward Mike Peterson

Posted July 14, 2003
Updated December 9, 2006

— A former Durham police investigator took the stand as the Mike Peterson trial resumed Monday, but defense attorneys claim he and other officers were biased toward Peterson.

Former police detective Sgt. Fran Borden testified Monday about why he thought the Peterson house was a crime scene. He told jurors that there were several red flags that made him suspicious.

"It just didn't jive. It just didn't fit," Borden told jurors.

Borden said he noticed the blood on the kitchen cabinets and the large amounts of blood around Kathleen Peterson's body. He also said that in most fatal falls, the victim's neck is broken. Borden said that was not the case with Kathleen Peterson.

"I tried to visualize or play every possible scenario as to how this woman could have come down those stairs, landed in the position that she landed and where did all that blood originate from," Borden said. "Again, there was so much blood [that] I could not make a determination just by looking at the body how many injuries that body had sustained."

Peterson is on trial for the death of his wife, Kathleen, in their Durham home in December 2001. Prosecutors allege Peterson killed his wife for financial gain while defense attorneys say she accidentally fell down a staircase.

During cross-examination, defense attorneys attempted to prove that Borden and other police officers had a grudge against Mike Peterson. Defense attorneys say during the late '90s, Peterson, a former columnist for the Durham Herald-Sun, wrote a series of newspaper columns, criticizing the Durham Police Department's inability to solve crimes. He also wrote columns about alleged racism and corruption in the Police Department.

As a result, defense attorneys contend the police treated Peterson as a suspect in his wife's death from the beginning.

Borden told jurors Mike Peterson's criticism of the police played no role in the investigation.

"Based on news articles you read by Mike Peterson before, during and after you were police spokesperson, did you have an unfavorable view about Mike Peterson," prosecutor Freda Black asked.

"No," Borden replied.

"Did you have a bias toward him," Black asked.

"No, I did not," Borden replied.

"Did you treat him worse than you would another citizen who was in the same situation," Black said.

"No," Borden replied.

As court ended for the day and Borden left the stand, Peterson patted him on the back and commended him for his police work. Borden replied that he enjoyed Peterson's columns.

In one of her last questions, Black asked Borden if he questioned a married woman who was with Peterson's son, Todd. Black then alleged the two were having an affair. Judge Orlando Hudson later told the jury to disregard the comment.

More police officers are expected to take the stand Tuesday.

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