Local News

Biomechanics Expert: Kathleen Peterson Fell Backward Down Stairs

Posted September 18, 2003
Updated December 9, 2006

— The jury in the Mike Peterson trial got a quick lesson in biomechanics Wednesday as an expert for the defense explained how Kathleen Peterson could have fallen to her death. Plus, Judge Orlando Hudson cancels court proceedings Thursday in anticipation of Hurricane Isabel.

Mike Peterson is charged with the death of his wife, Kathleen, at their home in December 2001. Prosecutors believe Mike Peterson beat his wife to death while defense attorneys claim she accidentally fell backwards down several stairs to her death.

Faris Bandak, a biomechanics expert for the defense, explained to jurors Wednesday how the speed and the force of her fall could have caused severe head injuries.

Bandak told jurors he used Kathleen Peterson's height and weight along with the measurements inside the stairwell to determine what happened. He believes Kathleen Peterson fell twice, hitting her head four times inside the stairwell.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Freda Black tried to paint Bandak as a witness for hire. Bandak admitted that he is getting paid $500 an hour for his testimony and he is on a $5,000 retainer. He also said he has been paid $40,000 so far.

In addition to Wednesday's testimony, Judge Orlando Hudson decided to cancel court for Thursday in anticipation of any landfall by Hurricane Isabel.

Jurors are expected to return to court Friday, but if there is any storm damage, they will follow the same schedule as Durham Public Schools.

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