DURHAM, NC — Michael Peterson was denied bond Friday afternoon, a day after he was indicted for the murder of his wife.
Peterson will remain in jail until at least Jan. 22. Attorneys for Peterson had sought a $1 million property bond, but Superior Court Judge Ronald Stephens denied the request during an afternoon hearing.
Stephens explained in court that it was hard to determine how much of a flight risk Peterson would be until he knows if the case will be tried as a death penalty case.
Friends and family members could not believe that the judge denied bond for Peterson.
"It is beyond words. It's dreadful beyond belief," said Peterson's son, Todd.
Peterson's attorney, David Rudolf, said he may appeal the judge's decision.
Peterson turned himself in Thursday after a Durham County grand jury indicted him in the death of his wife, Kathleen.
Peterson surrendered to police around 2 p.m. Thursday, just minutes after the indictment was handed down. Peterson was surrounded by family and friends at the time.
Peterson's brother says the family has not had an opportunity to grieve over Kathleen Peterson's death because "of what we believe are these unfair, unfounded charges by police."
Peterson, too, maintains his innocence and his love for his wife.
"Kathleen was my life. I have whispered her name in my heart 1,000 times. She is there when I can't stop crying," he said. "I would never have done anything to hurt her."
Peterson's attorney, David Rudolf, also said his client is not guilty.
"I know my client is innocent. My client has discussed this with me at length," he said.
The grand jury deliberated for about four hours Thursday before handing down the indictment.
During the procedure, a medical examiner, an SBI agent and the chief investigator from the Durham Police Department presented evidence.
To indict, a grand jury need only find that there is reasonable evidence that a crime has been committed, which is not the same level of proof needed for a conviction at trial.
Peterson's lawyers were critical of the process.
"We're very disappointed that he's been charged, particularly disappointed that the D.A. decided to treat this in a fast manner," said defense attorney Thomas Maher.
District Attorney Jim Hardin could say little about the proceedings or the evidence presented, but did confirm the indictment. Hardin has also reportedly filed a motion to seek the death penalty if Peterson is convicted of the crime.
Kathleen Peterson, an executive at Nortel, died almost two weeks ago. Michael Peterson called 911 on Dec. 9 to report the death, saying his wife had fallen down a flight of stairs in their Forest Hills home.
The medical examiner said her death was caused by a blow to the back of the head.
Investigators searched the Peterson home several times and seized a number of items, including computers, linens from the bedroom and wine bottles.
Peterson's attorneys claim the evidence in the case was contaminated and mishandled from the beginning. The attorneys say friends and family were at the scene before police arrived, and they say Peterson was seen cradling Kathleen's body in the stairwell after she was pronounced dead.
Rudolf said there are two possible theories as to what happened to Peterson's wife: either it was an accident or someone other than her husband killed her.
Peterson is a former candidate for both Durham Mayor and City Council. He is also the author of two Vietnam War Novels, "A Time of War" and its sequel, "A Bitter Peace."
Peterson has five children and is a graduate of Duke University.
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
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