Local News

Peterson Defense Lawyers Claim Police Searches Of Home Were Unconstitutional

Posted March 31, 2003

— Defense lawyers for a Durham novelist accused of killing his wife say police overstepped search warrants when they gathered evidence at the death scene.

Both sides are arguing about three searches that took place at Mike Peterson's home shortly after Kathleen Peterson's death. A motion by Peterson's defense lawyers contends police gave misleading information to a magistrate when they obtained search warrants for Peterson's property, then went beyond what the warrants allowed as they collected evidence.

On Monday, defense attorneys put several detectives on the stand so they could testify about what they found on the days after Kathleen's death. Defense attorneys claim items taken during the searches include fibers, clothing, sheets from the master bedroom and several computer parts.

The district attorney's office claims the searches were done properly.

Defense attorneys also questioned crime scene investigators over their evidence-gathering techniques. One technican admitted he did not have the proper equipment and did not know the mathematical formula to determine blood spatter at the scene.

Peterson is accused of killing his wife in the couple's home in December 2001. Nortel Networks executive Kathleen Peterson was found dead at the bottom of a stairway. Her husband says she apparently died from an accidental fall. Peterson's trial is scheduled to start in May.

The hearing is expected to take several days. In another development, some people at the courtroom are receiving surveys regarding the Mike Peterson case. District Attorney Jim Hardin is trying to gauge public opinion to see whether an impartial jury can be found.

The survey asks if people have heard about the Mike Peterson case and if they have already formed an opinion. The sampling should take two weeks.

Depending on the results, Hardin may ask for jurors to be brought in from other counties. Peterson had said that he wants local people to serve on the jury.

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Photographer:

Don Ingle

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