Local News

Judge Dismisses Juror In Mike Peterson Trial

Posted October 1, 2003

— There was another twist to the Mike Peterson murder trial Tuesday. A juror was excused after saying she knows one of the expert rebuttal witnesses.

Judge Orlando Hudson excused Juror No. 3 Dottie Waters after she told him she knows biomechanics expert Dr. James McElhaney -- one of the last witnesses to take the stand. Waters, a 66-year-old homemaker and wife of former ACC basketball coach Bucky Waters, will be replaced by alternate juror No. 1 -- a 70-year-old retired Navy sailor.

Attorney Butch Williams, who has been following the case, said he does not see a problem with the last-minute switch.

"They have been together since Day 1, so it is not like picking someone brand-new," Williams said.

In a statement, Waters said the process was an educational experience and a difficult responsibility.

"I acted immediately to alert the court when a former neighbor came forth as an unannounced witness. I thought the issue had been resolved at that time. What happened today really surprised me. His testimony would not have swayed by decision, but I do understand the court's decision to remove me from the jury."

"I'm saddened and disappointed in not being able to share in the deliberation with my fellow jurors."

Also on Tuesday, prosecutors laid out its evidence in the courtroom -- wine glasses, blood-stained clothes, and picture after picture of the bloody stairwell. District Attorney Jim Hardin wanted jurors to look at every piece of evidence before closing arguments. But defense attorney David Rudolf called that unreasonable.

Hudson agreed with Rudolf, saying it could take hours, perhaps even days, to sift through more than 500 pieces of evidence.

"The clock is running," he said. "We're wasting time."

Instead, jurors took a list of all the items and marked the ones they want to see. Those pieces of evidence will be brought into the deliberation room next week.

Closing arguments will start Thursday with the defense. The prosecution is scheduled to close on Friday.

Hardin said he will not ask the jury to consider second-degree murder as an option. Jurors will not be in Wednesday. Lawyers and judge will meet at 9:30 a.mm. to finalize the instructions for the jury

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