Local News

Judge grants Peterson another day in court

Posted December 3, 2008 5:37 p.m. EST
Updated December 3, 2008 11:44 p.m. EST

— A Superior Court judge decided Wednesday to hold a hearing on claims by convicted killer Mike Peterson that prosecutors withheld evidence in his 2003 murder trial.

Attorney Jason Anthony said Judge Orlando Hudson agreed to hear evidence on the matter, but he said no court date has been set.

Anthony, who practices in Richmond, Va., filed a motion last month seeking a new trial for Peterson, who was convicted 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.

Mike Peterson, 65, is serving a life sentence at Nash Correctional Institution. Last November, the state Supreme Court upheld his conviction.

Anthony alleged 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.

Durham County District Attorney David Saacks, who helped prosecute Mike Peterson, said he was unaware of Hudson's decision.

The day after Kathleen Peterson’s death, a man who lived a few blocks away found a tire iron in his yard. Police and prosecutors didn't follow up on the discovery until part way through the trial, Anthony said, and they didn't share any information about the tire iron with Mike Peterson's former attorneys.

Saacks previously said the tire iron wasn't connected to the case and that rules of discovery in effect at the time of the trial didn't require prosecutors to turn over information it to the defense.

A murder weapon was never found in the case. Prosecutors argued during the trial that Mike Peterson killed his wife with a fireplace blow poke.