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Supreme Court declines to review order for Mike Peterson retrial

Posted December 20, 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.
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— 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.

27 Comments

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  • jcthai Dec 23, 2013

    Come on folks. Think what you want about this case, Deaver was a tu rd. He didn't have the training or experience that he claimed to have. He made things up as he went along. He is responsible for his own actions which lead to verdicts being thrown out. Hopefully this time, the prosecution will get a real blood spatter expert to give some real testimony so we can reach real conclusions and a real verdict.

  • ccsmith1902 Dec 20, 2013

    Anyone who read the autopsy report should know that Peterson does not deserve a new trial.

  • disgusted2010 Dec 20, 2013

    The state conducted an investigation and fired Deaver after determining that he falsified lab results.

    That's enough proof in my mind.

    Deaver destroyed his own reputation the first time he falsified a lab result.
    ConservativeVoter

    Perhaps you should investigate further. Deaver was not fired for that. The truth is he was fired by our wonderful anti law enforcement attorney general because he refused to lay down and go along with the anti's.

  • ConservativeVoter Dec 20, 2013

    "Do you have proof of this or are you just listening to the anti police media or the pro criminal attorneys who have joined together to destroy Deaver's reputation to free murderers."

    The state conducted an investigation and fired Deaver after determining that he falsified lab results.

    That's enough proof in my mind.

    Deaver destroyed his own reputation the first time he falsified a lab result.

  • sandim50 Dec 20, 2013

    Let the game begin. The court has spoken. If it had ruled the other way, those that re anti-Peterson would be home knocking down their "cool-aid"
    Let us see a fair trial this time

  • monami Dec 20, 2013

    He doesn't look well. Maybe nature will resolve this case.

    If not, I hope the trial is low key and he gets ignored by the media. He doesn't deserve any attention.

  • davido Dec 20, 2013

    In other news, a collective shaking of heads was observed as the public realized they will have to hear about this case for another year or two at least.

  • disgusted2010 Dec 20, 2013

    Oh I do not think they need the media for that, Deaver flushed his "reputation" the first time he decided to lie. Now murderers will go free because rather than him practicing science, he decided he wanted to be the prosecutions star, and convict at any cost. He got exactly what he deserved - fired, shunned, and hopefully at some point, convicted.
    Click to view my profile yellow_hat

    Do you have proof of this or are you just listening to the anti police media or the pro criminal attorneys who have joined together to destroy Deaver's reputation to free murderers.

  • Obamacare for one and all Dec 20, 2013

    Have they found the owl yet?

  • yellow_hat Dec 20, 2013

    "They will destroy anyone's reputation..."

    Oh I do not think they need the media for that, Deaver flushed his "reputation" the first time he decided to lie. Now murderers will go free because rather than him practicing science, he decided he wanted to be the prosecutions star, and convict at any cost. He got exactly what he deserved - fired, shunned, and hopefully at some point, convicted.

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