Local News

State appeals Mike Peterson retrial order to Supreme Court

Posted August 16, 2013

Novelist and one-time Durham mayoral candidate Mike Peterson listens to an April 24, 2013, state Court of Appeals hearing regarding a judge's decision to set aside his murder conviction and order a new trial in the December 2001 death of his wife, Kathleen Peterson.

— The state Attorney General's Office on Friday asked the North Carolina Supreme Court to determine whether novelist and one-time Durham mayoral candidate Mike Peterson should get a new trial in his wife's 2001 death.

After almost a decade in prison, Peterson was granted a new trial in December 2011 when Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson ruled that a key prosecution witness gave false and misleading testimony during Peterson's 2003 murder trial, depriving him of his right to a fair trial.

Last month, the state Court of Appeals unanimously upheld Hudson's ruling. The unanimous decision means that the Supreme Court isn't obligated to hear the state's appeal.

"Review is merited because the decision conflicts with decisions of this court regarding newly discovered evidence, and it involves principles of major significance to the jurisprudence of this state in that it fundamentally changes the law regarding newly discovered evidence," Special Deputy Attorney General Robert Montgomery wrote in the appeal.

Kathleen Peterson was found dead in a pool of blood at the bottom of a staircase in the Petersons' upscale Durham home on Dec. 9, 2001. Prosecutors were never able to establish a clear motive and didn't find a murder weapon, and Mike Peterson has long denied any involvement in her death.

Hudson ruled that former State Bureau of Investigation blood analyst Duane Deaver misled jurors about his expertise and used questionable tests on evidence found in the Peterson home.

Deaver was fired by the SBI two years ago amid an independent review of suspect practices at the state crime lab.

Montgomery argued that evidence related to Deaver's qualifications as an expert shouldn't be considered new evidence. He noted that the Supreme Court ruled in an 1893 case that evidence discrediting a witness couldn't be considered enough to merit new trial.

He also argued that there was enough other evidence presented against Peterson to win a conviction even without Deaver's suspect testimony.

The Supreme Court also could kick the case back to Hudson for a new hearing, Montgomery suggested, noting that prosecutors weren't allowed to question witnesses during the 2011 hearing as to whether other evidence in the case supported the theory that Peterson killed his wife.

Peterson has remained under house arrest in Durham since that hearing awaiting a new trial. Sources have told WRAL News that Durham County prosecutors plan to retry him, rather than dismissing the case or negotiating a plea deal.


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  • dollibug Aug 19, 2013

    ***Beyond a reasonable doubt. When there are cops, DAs, SBI processes and witnesses who lie, the very core of our judicial system is compromised.

    Yep....I think we all know that CORRUPTION AND COVER UP IS ALIVE AND KICKING IN NC.....

  • 678devilish Aug 19, 2013

    That is if he's guilty.


  • 678devilish Aug 19, 2013

    He's past retirement age, probably living on social security and/or military retirement.


    He is getting nothing now. He is a prisoner. Just out for the moment.

  • 678devilish Aug 19, 2013

    Tax payers money continue to be wasted on this man who should absolutely be in prison. He killed his wife Kathleen, and now is trying to worm out of it.

  • HomeBrewDude Aug 19, 2013

    ... Beyond a reasonable doubt. When there are cops, DAs, SBI processes and witnesses who lie, the very core of our judicial system is compromised. We saw this with Tawana Brawley, the Duke Lacrosse case and in the Martin case. I believe though, given the latter, that the judges are seeing the truths these days and less the media hype.

  • OakRapp Aug 16, 2013

    Diana123, do you work for Fox News? They weren't close to bankruptcy, that came only after he had piled up tons of legal fees. He didn't get to keep the house, that was sold to pay lawyers. He's past retirement age, probably living on social security and/or military retirement.

  • hapd Aug 16, 2013

    I find it very disturbing that the state of NC put a SBI agent on the witness stand who committed perjury to get a conviction. Mr. Deaver should be in JAIl and Mr. Peterson is due a new trial. How do the people of NC sit still for prosecutorial misconduct to get convictions. The state attorney should seek the TRUTH regardless where it leads! This isn't the first time this has happened in NC. Just ask Mike NiFong who should be in jail too!

  • Tax Man Aug 16, 2013

    We need a system in place that when the prosecution, the police or any of their witnesses lie or cheat or falsify evidence they go to prison for life without parole. These are supposed to be our most trusted people. If they fail us they need to be locked up forever, never to see the light of day again! Deaver should be in prison without any possibility of ever getting out. He is a snake in the grass, a dishonest criminal who preyed on thousands of victims in the court system. Any prosecutor who worked with him needs to also join him in prison and any judge who convicted anyone based on Deaver's testimony needs to spend the rest of their lives in prison! You cannot have corrupt prosecution and prosecution witnesses!

  • ConservativeVoter Aug 16, 2013

    "A murderer sitting watching TV and enjoying his home freedom while his poor wife is cold in the ground. What a system of justice that is.

    That is if he's guilty.

    The appeals judge overturned his guilty convictions.

    The problem was that Deaver falsified blood test results in the SBI lab. Deaver also lied on the witness stand.

    The falsified blood tests and lies during the testimony were the primary reason Peterson was convicted no matter what the DA said.

    I'm not say Peterson is innocent, but he needs to get a FAIR trial without falsified evidence and lies from a start witness on the witness stand.

  • diana123 Aug 16, 2013

    he and his wife lived beyond their means and were facing bankruptcy. how in the world does he keep that mansion
    they both lived in. who is paying all the bills associated
    with being free?