Local News

Mike Peterson's 911 Tape Highlights Testimony In Day 6 Of Trial

Posted July 9, 2003

— Mike Peterson cried in court Wednesday after hearing the 911 tape where he told emergency officials about finding his wife's body.

As Peterson's 911 call for help on the night of Kathleen's death filled the courtroom, the Durham novelist choked back tears and his two daughters, Margaret and Martha Ratliff, were overcome with emotion. Peterson eventually escorted Margaret from the courtroom to console her.

During testimony, two 911 operators testified Thursday about the night Kathleen died. Defense attorney David Rudolf made sure jurors were aware of Mike Peterson's demeanor during the call.

"You had to say to him, 'Sir, sir, calm down.' Right?" Rudolf asked.

"That's correct," the 911 operator said.

"Because he sounded to you to be pretty hysterical," Rudolf said.

"Yes," said the 911 operator.

However, District Attorney Jim Hardin wanted the jury to consider the possiblity the novelist may have used his creative skills to create a drama of his own.

"If a caller was feigning all the hysteria, would you have any way of knowing that?" Hardin asked.

"No, I would not," said the 911 operator.

In addition to hearing the 911 tape, jurors also looked at a transcript of the 911 call.

One of the first police officers on the scene the night Kathleen died took the stand late Wednesday afternoon. Officer J.C. McDowell will be back on the stand Thursday to talk about what she saw at the Peterson home that night. She is expected to be followed by two more Durham police officers.

Earlier in the day, Lawrence Young, a financial analyst with the State Bureau of Investigation, took the stand for the third day in a row. The witness for the prosecution was cross-examined Wednesday morning by defense attorneys.

Young had been on the stand for about 30 seconds when the objections started flying.

"It is true, is it not, that you were not contacted before the decision was made to present a case to the grand jury to indict Mike Peterson?" defense attorney Thomas Maher said.

"Objection," replied prosecutor Freda Black.

Prosecutors are using Young to say Peterson killed his wife in December 2001 for money, but the defense claims Young's analysis is incomplete.

"You would agree that when someone is facing life imprisonment without parole, it's important to be fair in your analysis, wouldn't you?" Maher asked Young.

"I always try to be fair in my analysis," Young said.


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