Supreme Court declines to review order for Mike Peterson retrial
Posted December 20, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday declined to review an appellate ruling that 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.
The state Court of Appeals unanimously upheld Hudson's ruling in July. The unanimous decision meant that the Supreme Court wasn't obligated to hear the state's appeal.
“We believed the Court of Appeals reached the absolute correct decision and are pleased the Supreme Court agreed there was no need for review," said Charlotte attorney Jim Cooney, who represented Peterson in the case. "Mike Peterson did not receive a fair trial, and the courts of North Carolina have now made this clear.”
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.
The state Attorney General's Office argued that evidence related to Deaver's qualifications as an expert shouldn't be considered new evidence and that there was enough other evidence presented against Peterson to win a conviction even without Deaver's suspect testimony.
Candace Zamperini, Kathleen Peterson's sister, quoted a Bible verse from the book of Deuteronomy where she learned that Mike Peterson would get another trial.
"Justice, justice, shalt thou pursue," Zamperini said in an email to WRAL News, adding, "Our family dearly misses Kathleen."
Mike 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.
Cooney said it would be unlikely a new trial would occur before 2015.