Local News

Judge Denies Petrick's Request To Delay Upcoming Trial

Posted September 19, 2005
Updated December 10, 2006

— A Durham man who plans to represent himself in his own trial for the death of his wife was denied additional time to prepare his case Monday.

Robert Petrick, who is charged with killing his wife -- Durham musician Janine Sutphen -- more than two years ago, asked a judge Monday to push his trial date back two or three months, even though a judge warned Petrick in July that the trial would not be delayed.

"I'm very anxious to get this over with, but I want to get it over with adequate preparation," Petrick, in his prison uniform, said.

According to court documents, Petrick, who is currently in Central Prison in Raleigh, contends he is not being given the resources to prepare. State prison rules prohibit his access to computers and the Internet and most of the other tools he needs to prepare for his defense.

The judge ordered the state to buy Petrick a set of legal books.

Petrick will also be given copies of search warrants that the prosecution is using as evidence. Shortly after Sutphen's disappearance, investigators spent days at the couple's home searching for clues.

Petrick, whose trial date is set for Oct. 31, is already serving 11 years in prison for fraud. Police and prosecutors say that charge is connected to the murder charge, but they will not say how.

Petrick also has several fraud convictions in Illinois and has a habitual felon charge against him in North Carolina that would add on additional time to any sentence he may receive.

Petrick faces a life sentence in prison if convicted of Sutphen's death.

Officials say that two fisherman found Sutphen, a cellist for the Durham Symphony who was last seen in January on her way to rehearsal, in Falls Lake on May 29, 2003.

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