Local News

Robert Petrick Had Fair Trial, Appeals Court Rules

Posted November 6, 2007

— Convicted murderer Robert Petrick received a fair trial free from errors when he was found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2003 death of his wife, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

Petrick's attorney argued before the appeals court last month that his client did not have all the information he needed to make an informed decision to serve as his own counsel in his 2005 murder trial. Petrick and his court-appointed attorney had disagreed on a defense strategy.

But in a unanimous decision, the court ruled the presiding judge repeatedly apprised the defendant of his rights and that on two occasions, he signed waivers of his right of counsel.

"The trial court, in both instances engage in and applied the appropriate statutory inquiry and safeguards to defendant's election to proceed," Judge John M. Tyson wrote.

Petrick was accused of killing his wife, Durham Symphony cellist Janine Sutphen, and disposing of her body in Raleigh's Falls Lake.

He reported her missing in January 2003, and several months later, fishermen found her body wrapped in a tarp and tied in duct tape. Authorities said Sutphen was suffocated and wrapped in sleeping bags with her legs chained.

The appeals court also found that the judge complied with law when he allowed testimony involving a cadaver dog and other testimony of Petrick's past.


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  • moi_oc Nov 6, 2007

    Hope he dies in prison - he took a good woman's life and he is a waste of oxygen.

  • Mr. Keeping It Real Nov 6, 2007

    Survey said "EEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHHHHHHH" - back to your cell and try thinking of a way you can repay the family their loss instead of how you can avoid prison!

  • bcc Nov 6, 2007

    The beltway sniper (John Mohammed) just did the same thing. Appealed his conviction because he tried to represent himself. DENIED. Now he waits for the execution he so deserves.

  • They call me CATMAN Nov 6, 2007

    What a LOSER. He got what he deserves.

  • sssteph42 Nov 6, 2007

    People who commit these types of crimes have a sense of invincibility. Ted Bundy also represented himself, and you see how many women he murdered. Not saying I know the facts of this case, but sociopathology is interesting to study.

  • garden Nov 6, 2007

    Boy, this guy has some nerve. Not much on morals or sense but he sure has gall.

  • whatelseisnew Nov 6, 2007

    Glad to see this guy getting what he so deserves to have.

  • BUCKEYEnNC Nov 6, 2007

    This guy has no excuse. He served as his own attorney (see caesarrodney1980's comment) and got convicted. What was he thinking?!?!?

  • caesarrodney1980 Nov 6, 2007

    My dad always used to say "He who acts as his own attorney has a fool for a client"
    Glad to see that the courts didn't back down or others would be trying to escape justice the same way.

  • richard2 Nov 6, 2007

    Good. Now move on to something more important.