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Murder Suspect Mike Peterson Hosts Forum About Durham County Jail Inmates

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DURHAM, N.C. — A panel discussion that was supposed to focus on the Durham County jail was overshadowed by one of its more recent inmates.

Mike Peterson, co-founder of a group examining the racial makeup of the jail population, hosted a forum Thursday. Peterson is charged with the murder of his wife, Kathleen, in December.

One of the panelists, Durham district attorney candidate Mark Simeon, decided not to show up because of Peterson's presence.

"I could have overcome it, but I recognize the perception problem," Simeon said. "We've got enough problems along those lines already. I don't intend to contribute to it, so after thinking it over, I decided against participating on the panel."

Simeon said his decision to skip the panel had nothing to do with the fact he may someday try to put Peterson away for murder.