Local News

Peterson Forensic Expert Claims Blood Spatter Not Consistent With Beating

Posted September 16, 2003
Updated December 9, 2006

— Defense attorneys in the Mike Peterson trial put Dr. Henry Lee, one of the most noted experts in forensic science, on the stand Monday.

Mike Peterson is charged with the death of his wife, Kathleen. Prosecutors believe Mike Peterson beat his wife to death with a blowpoke, but Lee said the bloodstains found on the stairwell are not consistent with a beating.

Lee tried to break down blood spatter analysis to the very basics for jurors. He coughed up watery ketchup and used medicine droppers filled with red ink to show how blood spatters are created.

Lee told jurors sneezing, coughing and shaking by an injured person can cause bloodstain patterns like those found on the Peterson stairwell.

Lee said you have to be very meticulous and very careful before drawing any conclusions.

"We have to look at the totality, everything before we jump to the conclusion that this has to be a beating," Lee said.

Lee said he found 10,000 individual blood droplets in the stairwell. He said usually with a beating, you do not see that much blood spatter.

During cross-examination, District Attorney Jim Hardin emphasized what Lee did not know.

"You can't say all those lacerations were caused by a fall," Hardin asked Lee.

"I don't know. It's beyond the area of my expertise," Lee responded.

Lee also praised the Durham Police Department that had been criticized for its evidence-gathering techniques at the Petersons' house the night of Kathleen Peterson's death. Lee will be back on the stand Tuesday.


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