Local News

Jurors Look At Bloody Stairwell, Pool Area At Mike Peterson House

Posted September 11, 2003
Updated December 9, 2006

— Jurors in the Mike Peterson trial have heard about the stairwell where Kathleen Peterson's body was found. On Thursday, they got a chance to see it with their own eyes.

Armed with notepads, jury members went into the stairwell one-by-one to examine the place where Kathleen Peterson died.

No cameras were allowed inside, but one media representative got to accompany the jury.

"It was very stoic. No one was talking," said Demorris Lee, a reporter for the News and Observer.

The bloody stairwell where Kathleen Peterson died had been boarded up since Dec. 12, 2001 three days after her death.

"Many of them went up to about the fourth or fifth step and turned back and looked and waved their hands to look behind to see if they could fallor if they could catch themselves," Lee said.

Defense attorneys say the visit to the stairwell will prepare jurors for Dr. Henry Lee's testimony. Lee, a forensic scientist known for his work on the O.J. Simpson case, visited the Peterson mansion last year to study the blood spatter in the stairwell.

"We thought it was important for them to get a sense of space, a sense of whether in fact, what the district attorney claims happened could have happened or if what we say could happen," defense attorney David Rudolf said.

One female juror walked in, quickly left and never went back. Others wanted to take in every detail of the Peterson mansion. One juror wanted to go near the fireplace to see where the blowpoke was. Prosecutors believe Mike Peterson beat his wife to death with a blowpoke.

Jurors also got a chance to go to the pool where Mike Peterson was supposed to have been the night of his wife's death.

As jurors viewed the house, Mike Peterson was reportedly sitting upstairs. Kathleen Peterson's daughter, Caitlin Atwater, finds it haunting that her stepfather still lives in the house on Cedar Street.

"Mike Peterson lives in this home where his memory of her is her blood on the walls. [It] seems to me like coffin-like. Her memory is entombed in that staircase," she said.

Atwater believes the jurors will walk away from the bloody stairwell with one thought.

"This is very real for them. It's going to make it very real. Hopefully, they'll see that this is where my mother died. This is a crime scene," she said.

Peterson's lawyers said the stairwell is going to remain untouched and preserved until there is a verdict. There will be no court Friday.

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