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Son: Mike Peterson 'casualty of Durham legal system'

Posted November 20, 2008

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— The son of convicted killer Mike Peterson said in an open letter Thursday that his father is among the growing number of criminal defendants in Durham who have been failed by police, prosecutors and courts.

Clayton Peterson said he was writing the letter on behalf of his mother and siblings and that the family would continue to press for a new trial to clear his father's name.

Mike Peterson was convicted five years ago of first-degree murder in the Dec. 9, 2001, death of his wife, Kathleen Peterson.

Kathleen Peterson was found dead in a pool of blood at the bottom of a staircase in the couple’s Forest Hills mansion. Mike Peterson has maintained his wife died in an accidental fall.

Last week, a Virginia attorney filed a motion for a new trial, alleging prosecutorial and juror misconduct in the 2003 murder trial.

Attorney Jason Anthony, who practices in Richmond, Va., alleges in the motion that prosecutors withheld evidence of a tire iron during the murder trial, impairing the efforts of defense attorneys to argue that an intruder had killed Kathleen Peterson.

Calling his father "a casualty of the Durham legal system," Clayton Peterson said cases like that in which three Duke University lacrosse players were wrongly accused of sexual assault demonstrate that police and prosecutors are more interested in convictions than in justice.

"Unfortunately, this kind of story is nothing new in the city of Durham. It is discouraging to think that Durham’s residents may have grown accustomed to news of another grievous error in the legal system – a fault that should not have been, that must not happen again, that we pray will be remedied," he wrote.

Durham County District Attorney David Saacks denied any wrongdoing in the Peterson case, saying the tire iron was irrelevant to the prosecution. He also said rules in effect at the time didn't require prosecutors to turn over information about the tire iron to Mike Peterson's former attorneys.

Peterson, 65, is serving a life sentence at Nash Correctional Institution. The state Supreme Court upheld his conviction last year.

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  • GALNC Nov 21, 2008

    kathy8791 - I would agree if evidence was withheld..but based on the injuries, blood spatter, etc Mike Peterson was found guilty. Either way, Kathleen did not fail and her daughter lost a mother. There is no doubt that her daughter has suffered while Mike and son continue to try to get out of jail free card. I am sickened by Mike Peterson and the fact that women around him die......maybe years about they die under very strange circumstances.

  • Arkansas Razorback Nov 21, 2008

    I really try to have an open objective mind but my gut tells me that Mike Peterson is as guilty as they come.

  • TC1807 Nov 21, 2008

    ok Mikey says she fell down the stairs...and yet the defense was trying to argue she was killed by an intruder with a tire iron?

  • Eduardo1 Nov 21, 2008

    Maybe his son has a guilty conscience!

  • Garnerwolf1 Nov 21, 2008

    Who then is Kathleen Peterson a casualty of?

  • SANDHILL Nov 21, 2008

    The casulty of the Durham legal system is that he did not get the chemical cocktail he deserved

  • superman Nov 21, 2008

    A tire iron found months after the death and it had something to do with the death? Where is he getting the money to hire lawyers-- thought he was broke and bankrupt. His son was at the scene when the police arrived. Perhaps his son is trying to help his father because he helped to withhold evidence and clean up the crime scene.

  • FragmentFour Nov 21, 2008

    What on earth does Mike Nifong have to do with the first Peterson trial? Nifong wasn't the DA at the time, and he wasn't on the DA's team for case either.

    Nobody here smart enough to find a calendar?

  • familyfour Nov 21, 2008

    And Mike Peterson's wives were a casualty of Mike Peterson.
    Me again

    I was gonna say the exact same thing....you made it easy for me :)

  • MarvinsWife12 Nov 21, 2008

    Nifong was not the DA when Peterson was tried, Jim Harden was. And, Jim Harden was the lead prosecuter in the case. So Peterson was not Nifong'd. What short memories we have.

    Peterson keeps coming with new theories as to how his wife died, that now he has lost all credibility, even he even had any.

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