Local News

Peterson Juror 'Prayed That We Could Do Justice'

Posted October 11, 2003

— The jurors who decided Mike Peterson's fate plan to speak as a group, but they haven't said when yet.

The panel left together in sheriff's deputies' cars shortly after the guilty verdict was read Friday morning, ending Peterson's murder trial and sending him to prison for the rest of his life.

Although the 12 jurors are not ready to give specifics about the case, one juror shared her personal experience of sitting on the jury in the three-month trial.

We have all come to know the jurors by numbers. Friday, juror No. 10 had a name, Lilar Pennington. She talked to WRAL's Ken Smith about life as a Mike Peterson juror.

"It's been a long haul," she said.

Pennington finally can exhale.

"I'm just grateful to God that he allowed us to get this far, and it's finally over," Pennington said. "It's finally over."

Pennington and her fellow jurors listened to almost two months of testimony and tried to make sense of more than 500 pieces of evidence.

"I'm glad it's over," she said. "I'm really glad it's over."

Pennington said her time in Courtroom 51, including deliberations, was the toughest three months of her life.

"I just had knots in my stomach," she said. "It was torture. It was like pain."

Pennington's jury duty came after she faced her own personal adversity. Her younger brother died suddenly in June.

She said her family and her faith carried her through the trial -- the longest and most high-profile trial held in Durham.

"God, he was my ultimate strength," Pennington said. "I prayed. I would wake up in the morning and prayed that we could do justice."

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