Local News

Closing Arguments Complete In Mike Peterson Trial

Posted October 3, 2003
Updated December 9, 2006

— The prosecution gave its closing arguments Friday morning in the Mike Peterson trial. Prosecutors contend the Durham novelist killed his wife, Kathleen Peterson, at their home on Dec. 9, 2001.

Assistant District Attorney Freda Black attacked what the defense calls Peterson's loving relationship with his wife.

"Did he honor her? Did he keep her? Did he forsake all others and was he faithful only unto her? You all know the answers to those questions. The answer to every one of those questions is no," Black told jurors.

Black told them to consider the things Mike Peterson did right after his wife Kathleen died.

"He took his socks and shoes off. Isn't that a strange for a grieving spouse to do?" she said.

Black called Peterson "arrogant" and reminded jurors about the Durham novelist's demeanor over the last three months.

"If he's so sad, you all have watched his demeanor here in the courtroom. He has been laughing during his own first-degree murder trial," he said.

Black also attacked the defense team, calling its case "ridiculous." She appealed to the jurors' common sense and countered the defense claim that the couple was financially sound.

"$143,000 in credit card debt -- do you think that is normal?" she said.

Black did not ignore the prosecution's own weak spot -- the so-called murder weapon. She reminded jurors she and District Attorney Jim Hardin never said a blowpoke was definitely the murder weapon.

"Somewhere, he put a weapon. Was it the murder weapon? We can't be absolutely certain, and we are not required to be absolutely certain, but that weapon went somewhere," she said.

Black also reminded jurors about Elizabeth Ratliff, Mike Peterson's friend who died a similiar death in Germany nearly twenty years ago. Jurors listened to the similarities between the women's two deaths.

"Do you really believe that lightning strikes twice in the same place," she said.

Hardin wrapped up the prosecution's closing arguments with a picture of Kathleen Peterson's body lying on the autopsy table. He asked jurors not to forget the victim.

"These walls are talking. Kathleen is talking to us through the blood on the walls," he said. "She's screaming at us for truth and for justice," he said.

On Thursday, defense lawyer David Rudolf spent more than four hours delivering his closing arguments to jurors.

Judge Orlando Hudson is expected to rule Monday on the fate of a juror who spent Wednesday night in the drunk tank of the Durham County jail. Afterward, jurors are expected to hear their instructions and begin their deliberations.


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