Local News

Kathleen Peterson's Family, Defense Team Debate TV Airing Of Crime Scene

Posted April 10, 2002 5:45 a.m. EDT
Updated December 9, 2006 9:46 p.m. EST

— Kathleen Peterson's family members and Mike Peterson's defense team are squaring off about a national news magazine that featured video of the scene of Kathleen's death.

The segment aired Friday on 20/20 and focused on the work of Dr. Henry Lee, who is known for his part in the O.J. Simpson case. Lee was at the Peterson house in February, and his visit to Durham was filmed by the network camera crew.

Many of Kathleen Peterson's family members claim that they saw the crime scene for the first time on TV.

In her statement, Peterson's sister Candace Hunt Zamperini said that the family is upset over the "hypocrisy" and "irresponsiblity" of the video being shown to the general public with no warning to the family.

Peterson's defense team notes that 20/20 never identified the house or the case Lee was working on. On Wednesday, they responded by saying, "What the cameras did record was the extraordinary fact that the Durham Police completely missed critical evidence there at the scene, evidence that indicates Kathleen's head hit the stairway wall in several places."

District Attorney Jim Hardin said while the segment does not compromise the investigation, it is disturbing.

"I think it's extremely unfortunate that the segment was shown without having given the family notice," Hardin says. "I can understand why they are livid, upset and shocked by that."

Lee is one of five experts who have been hired by defense attorney David Rudolf. The others include an engineer, a neuropathologist and two additional forensic experts.

Rudolf said he knew the segment was going to air, but he did not know when. Peterson's defense team told WRAL that Dr. Lee brought the network camera crew with him to the house.

Despite all the publicity the case has generated, Rudolf said Peterson, who is charged with killing his wife, says he will not ask a judge to move the trial out of Durham.

"Mr. Peterson is well-known in the community," says David Rudolf. "People who know him understand what his personality is like and what his relationship with Kathleen was like."

"We're very comfortable having the trial in Durham," he says.

Mike Peterson will be in court again next month for a procedural hearing.

Meanwhile, Rudolf is hoping to get more information from the District Attorney's office, including police reports, witness statements and possibly lab results from the SBI.

The case might not go to trial until next year.

Kathleen Peterson was found dead in her home on Dec. 9, 2001.