Local News

Rudolf Plans Appeal Of Peterson Verdict

Posted October 21, 2003

— While Mike Peterson spends his days in prison, lawyers work on his appeal. They plan to attack the state's case on a number of fronts.

Jurors have said evidence that the defense is concerned about did not play a role in their decision.

More than a week after the jury convicted Peterson for the murder of his wife, Kathleen, lead defense attorney David Rudolf said he is still stunned by the verdict.

"It blows me away," Rudolf said, "and you can't convince me Ratliff didn't have something to do with that."

Elizabeth Ratliff was a friend of Mike Peterson's who died in Germany in 1985. Prosecutors told jurors that Peterson killed his wife and Ratliff.

After hearing three months of testimony, jurors said Ratliff's death never even entered into their deliberation process. Rudolf wondered, though, how jurors could have kept it out of their decision.

"I just don't think there was anyway for them not to let that color their judgment when they considered other evidence," he said.

The jury also heard from Brent Wolgamott, a gay male escort who went by the name, "Brad" and met Peterson on the Internet. The jury saw thousands of pornographic pictures taken off Peterson's computer, but the jurors told WRAL that Peterson's sexuality did not impact their verdict at all.

Rudolf does not agree with their assessment.

"When people look at that stuff, when they see the e-mails Mike sent to Brad, it sticks and it causes impressions to be formed," Rudolf said.

Rudolf plans to appeal the case, saying the evidence surrounding Ratliff and the sexuality issue should not have been allowed.

"I think that the errors that were made are going to lead to a new trial," he said.

Rudolf said he believes jurors did not talk about either issue during deliberations, but he thinks it was probably in the back of their minds.

If there is another trial, it most likely will not be in Durham, and it will not be anytime soon. The appeals process can take as long as two years.

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