Local News

Contents Of Mike Peterson Home To Be Sold

Posted November 4, 2003

— Convicted murderer Mike Peterson is serving a life sentence for killing his wife, Kathleen, inside their Durham mansion. The 11,000-square-foot home in Forest Hills is for sale, and now, so are the items inside.

Each room of the Cedar Street mansion is filled with antiques and artwork. In two weeks, practically every item will be up for sale.

Should taxpayers be the ones to pay for Mike Peterson's appeal? Yes No

The money for the sale will be divided between Mike Peterson's two sons, his daughters Margaret and Martha Ratliff, as well as Kathleen Peterson's daughter, Caitlin Atwater.

Last year, Atwater filed a wrongful death suit against Mike Peterson. The sale is part of an agreement reached between her lawyer and Peterson's lawyer. Any money she gets from the sale will be considered an advance for the judgment in the civil suit.

During the three-month trial, prosecutors claimed money was one of the reasons Peterson killed his wife. Durham District Attorney Jim Hardin said the couple were in financial trouble.

Defense attorneys laughed at the idea. During cross examination of an estate lawyer, Tom Maher pointed out dozens of items in the Peterson house that may potentially be worth a lot of money.

Despite defense claims that Peterson was financially sound, they now say the novelist is broke. He cannot afford the upkeep on the mansion or any of the other real estate properties he owns.

The Durham mansion is on the market for $1.2 million Everything inside will be priced to sell. Because everything, including the house, needs to be sold quickly, it all is expected to go for much less than it is worth.

The three-day sale is scheduled to start Nov. 21.

On Tuesday, Durham County Judge Orlando Hudson agreed that Mike Peterson is indigent after denying an earlier request.

A defense motion claimed the murder trial was so expensive it exhausted all of Peterson's financial resources. Being declared indigent means the state will help pay for his appeal.

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