Local News

Attorney: Evidence withheld in Peterson trial

Posted November 10, 2008

— A Virginia attorney said he plans to file a motion Wednesday seeking a new trial for Durham novelist and convicted killer Mike Peterson.

Jason Anthony, who practices in Richmond, Va., said prosecutors withheld evidence during Peterson's 2003 murder trial, violating a judge's order in the case and the state's laws regarding evidentiary discovery in criminal trials.

Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder in the Dec. 9, 2001, death of his wife, Kathleen Peterson. She was found dead in a pool of blood at the bottom of a staircase in the couple’s Forest Hills mansion.

Kathleen Peterson died of blunt force trauma to the head, according to an autopsy report. Mike Peterson, 64, has maintained his wife died in an accidental fall.

Anthony said Peterson's former attorneys didn't know that a neighbor found a tire iron in his yard shortly after Kathleen Peterson's death and turned it over to police. Prosecutors tested the tire iron but never shared the information with the defense attorneys, he said.

Knowing about the tire iron would have changed the defense considerably – it might have been the murder weapon – and likely would have discredited some witnesses, Anthony said.

Durham County District Attorney David Saacks couldn't be reached Monday for comment. He has said in the past that investigators determined the tire iron was irrelevant to the Peterson case.

Saacks also has said discovery rules in effect in 2003 were different than those now on the books.

Mike Peterson is serving a life sentence at Nash Correctional Institution. Last November, the state Supreme Court upheld his conviction.


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  • Raleigh Nov 10, 2008

    to foghat4545......i'm glad you had the opportunity to have meet katherine and to have lunch with her....i'm sure she was a very sweet mother, wife and lady....i didnt know the petersons at all....i did indeed watch the trail on tv and i followed the case.....i was very surprised with the outcome.....my heart poured out to the girls, the daughters....the images of their faces etched in my mind and are there to this day.....i have a dear friend who did know the petersons....she babysitted for KP and she did tell me that KP was know for drinking and being unbalanced after she drank.....

    i dont feel 100% that MP is guilty.....i just dont feel that way....

    it saddens me when the law enforcement, the da and the media tries someone before the case is send to court.

    thanks foghat4545 for your comments


  • kathy8791 Nov 10, 2008

    Very few of you understand the seriousness of this. If evidence was withheld in Mike Peterson's case, it could be withheld in any case, so you should hope you're never on trial in Durham, or anywhere else for that matter, particularly if you're innocent.
    Maybe I'm just not feeling as lighthearted as most of you, but I don't get all the joking around here -- a woman is dead, a family has been torn apart, and that's just too much devastation for me to think it's funny. I do appreciate those of you who see the serious side.

  • whocares Nov 10, 2008

    The thing about the tire iron is, it was processed but did it pertain to the case? And if not, the prosecution had no reason to use it.

  • smitty Nov 10, 2008

    The moral of the story is, if you are old, get a one story ranch.

  • unblankenbelievable Nov 10, 2008

    In my opinion,that's how these DA's do business. They don't care if someone is innocent ( not saying Mike is)They are more concerned about getting another notch on their belts. Taken from someone who was found guity for a crime I didn't commit, I have zero faith in our justice system.

  • bhhoward Nov 10, 2008

    I propose that the federal and state governments across the USA enact a law which mandates disbarment for any attorney who withholds any evidence in any criminal or civil trial. The withholding of evidence is criminal and should be dealt with accordingly. Lawyers who withhold evidence and get caught adds cost to the taxpayer by having to re-try the accused. The attorney also should have to pay for the extra cost of re-trial.

  • Vincent Vega Nov 10, 2008

    From the comments I've read, it appears that most of you have no idea what you are talking about. I suggest that you rent the documentary "The Staircase" and watch it. You might have a different view of the case after the fact.Here is an example:
    The fact that there was neither skull fracture nor a subderal hematoma is also something that the prosecution did not ever answer. The defense showed that in the last 250 + cases of people being bludgeoned to death in the state of North Carolina one or the other or both were present. Neither of these were present in the case of Kathleen Peterson's death.

    Guilty or not the defense shot enough holes in the prosecution's case to give more than a reasonable doubt.

  • angora2 Nov 10, 2008

    You guys are cracking me up.

    Yep, old Mikey's guilty as charged. Guess his next lawyer will be from West Virginia or Kentucky. Maybe Alabama.

  • SME2 Nov 10, 2008

    Hey Mikey, when you get off this time "DO NOT GET REMARRIED"

    Women are obviously nothing but trouble for you! or is it the other way around?

  • freedomdiddy Nov 10, 2008

    When are prosecutors going to learn that they do not get to decide what is relevant and what is not? That is the job of the judge. When prosecutors hide evidence, we all lose. They should have turned it over. If it was indeed irrelevant, then the judge keeps it out of evidence and no harm is done.