Local News

Fraud Trial Under Way For Man Charged In Wife's Slaying

Posted July 26, 2005

— A Durham man accused of killing his wife went on trial Tuesday for fraud charges that prosecutors say are connected to the slaying of his wife.

Authorities believe Robert Petrick killed his wife, Janine Sutphen, a cellist with the Durham Symphony, who disappeared in January 2003; her body was found months later floating in Falls Lake.

More than two years ago, Durham police took 10 computers from the home that Petrick shared with Sutphen. The prosecution says he used some of them to manufacture fake checks worth tens of thousands of dollars. It says the fraud charges are related to the slaying, but will not say how.

Acting as his own attorney, Petrick, who faces nearly a dozen counts of fraud charges, stumbled through his first day representing himself. He stood when he should have been seated and he sat when he should have been standing.

During the first day, Petrick came face to face with the detective who built the case against him. He questioned the investigator and his credibility.

He also had a half-dozen handwritten pre-trial motions. He wanted the case continued, wanted the charges dropped and wanted a computer returned that was seized by police.

The judge denied most of Petrick's motions.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Wednesday.

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