Local News

One Year Later, Wrangling Continues In Peterson Murder Trial

Posted December 9, 2002 7:25 a.m. EST

— A year ago Monday, Kathleen Peterson was found murdered, her body discovered at the bottom of a staircase in the family's Durham mansion.

Peterson's husband, novelist, erstwhile politician and former newspaper columnist Mike Peterson, is charged with killing her. The trial is five months away.

When Durham police arrived at the Peterson mansion on Cedar Street last Dec. 9, they found Kathleen Peterson's body at the bottom of the back stairwell. Mike Peterson initally told police she must have fallen while he was out by the pool.

Detectives didn't buy Mike Peterson's story and later arrested him.

An autopsy revealed Kathleen died from a severe beating.

As he awaits trial, the once very public Mike Peterson is now fairly reclusive. He tells friends he stays home to write and work on his defense, and when he does leave, people notice him and whisper.

Peterson has lost the support of his stepdaughter. Caitlin Atwater once defended him, but not anymore.

Atwater has contested her stepfather's claim to her mother's life insurance policy, and she has a wrongful death lawsuit against him.

While District Attorney Jim Hardin and defense attorney David Rudolf wait for the May trial, the case has been marked by pre-trial wrangling over evidence. Rudolf claims Hardin hasn't shared evidence in a timely manner.