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Rudolf Attacks Police Procedure, Investigator's Credibility

Posted July 23, 2003

— Defense attorney David Rudolf was on the attack Tuesday in the Mike Peterson murder trial.

Peterson's lawyer tried to hammer home several points to the jury: that the scene of Peterson's wife's death had been contaminated and that the lead evidence technician had little experience.

Evidence technician Dan George admitted that the scene may have been contaminated and that mistakes were made.

Rudolf also suggested that George was overworked the night Kathleen Peterson died.

Rudolf: "By the time you left the scene, you'd been on the job 24 hours?"

George: "Yes, sir."

Because George had only three years' experience in his job at the time, Rudolf wondered why George was designated as the lead evidence technician in the case.

Jurors heard George testify over and over that his crime scene experience was limited.

"No, sir, I'm not familiar with that," he told Rudolf, and "this is well beyond my training."

Rudolf used that fact to expose other weaknesses.

Rudolf: "You're not an expert in Luminol testing?"

George: "No, sir."

Luminol is used to illuminate blood that can not be seen with the human eye. George admitted he had only used the chemical four times prior to the Peterson case.

Rudolf: "Ever at a death scene?"

George: "No, sir."

Mike Peterson is accused of murdering his wife, Kathleen, in December 2001. He claims her death was an accident, that she fell down a flight of stairs.

For most of Tuesday morning, Rudolf focused on contamination.

Rudolf questioned George about the fact the scene wasn't secured right away. He also grilled George about people tracking through the blood near Kathleen Peterson's body.

Rudolf said some of it may have been caught on tape.

He showed George a portion of video taken at the scene that shows a policeman checking the bottoms of his shoes, as if to see if he had tracked any blood with him.

Rudolf: "Remember that video?"

George: "No, sir."

Rudolf: "There's a police officer in the background. He's picking up his shoe, looking at his shoe. Do you think maybe he had something on his shoe that had contaminated something.?"

George: "It's entirely possible."

The trial resumes Wednesday at 1 p.m. The trial is being shown live on the WRAL NewsChannel digital cable channel 256.


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