Parts Of Testimony Stricken, But Request For Mistrial Denied
Posted July 2, 2003
DURHAM, N.C. — There were no theatrics in the courtroom during Day 2 of the Mike Peterson murder trial on Wednesday. However, Judge Orlando Hudson instructed the jury to disregard parts of the testimony from one of the prosecution's witnesses during questioning by the defense.
Defense attorney Tom Maher questioned James Rose, an emergency medical technician, about differences in two statements Rose made, one from the night of the death Dec. 9, 2001, and a second three days later.
Rose said he had never been asked to give a second statement in his 15 years of work as an emergency responder.
"The investigative officers asked if I could be more detailed in my script about what I saw and heard and about what I had done," Rose said.
Maher asked if Rose had been asked to detail dried blood on the scene. Rose responded that the investigators weren't that specific.
When Rose's partner, Ron C. Paige, testified, questions again centered on blood at the scene, whether it had dried and where the EMTs had stepped or placed their gear around Kathleen Peterson's body.
"I saw a body and I saw blood, lots of blood," Paige said under cross-examination by Maher. "As far as me looking at the blood, it appeared dry. At no time did I touch the blood or see if the blood was wet or whatever. It just appeared to be dry, and I've seen a lot of dried blood in my life."
Given a second chance to question Rose, District Attorney Jim Hardin asked him how long Kathleen Peterson had been dead before he arrived at 2:41 a.m. Rose estimated 30 to 45 minutes.
The defense objected, and Hudson excused the jury while Rudolf questioned Rose about what evidence he used to make that determination.
Rose cited Peterson's dilated pupils, pale skin and the amount of blood.
"So you're guessing?" Rudolf said.
"I'm going off my experience," Rose said.
"So you're guessing," Rudolf said.
"An educated guess," Rose said.
Hudson granted Rudolf's objection, striking Rose's opinion on time of death from the record and instructing the jury to disregard that statement from his testimony. Hudson also denied Rudolf's request for a mistrial.
Peterson, a novelist and former newspaper columnist, is accused of first-degree murder in the death of his wife Kathleen, a telecommunications executive. He could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
In his opening statement Monday, Hardin alleged that Mike Peterson, 59, killed his wife because the couple had financial difficulties and he wanted to collect a $1.4 million insurance policy that she had through work.
Hardin said Peterson feared she would lose her job at Nortel Networks and wanted the couple's assets for himself. He also hinted that a blow poke, a long metal fireplace tool, disappeared from the Petersons' 10,000-square-foot home the day Kathleen Peterson died and could be the murder weapon.
Rudolf said there were no financial difficulties because the couple had nearly $2 million in net assets.
Rudolf said Kathleen Peterson died from a fall after a night of drinking and lounging at the couple's home.