DURHAM, N.C. — Thursday, the fourth day of jury selection in the Mike Peterson murder trial, the process of finding 12 of Peterson's peers to decide the case entered a new stage.
The court is finished hearing the hardship excuses and into the meat of picking jurors. Through the process, people are learning more about the prosecution's case.
Before the process got under way Thursday, the defense team and prosecutors agreed on how to go about jury selection. The prosecution will interview potential jurors first and pick their 12 for the box. Then, the defense will come back and challenge the selections if it wants to.
This isn't typical, but it is legal. It also allows Peterson's lawyers to get a better idea of what kind of juror the prosecution is looking for.
The assistant district attorney told two potential jurors there was no eyewitness the night Kathleen Peterson died; their evidence is circumstantial. She also emphasized the fact that, by law, the state is not required to show motive.
Last week, district attorney Jim Hardin said the Elizabeth Ratliff information was critical to his case. She's the Peterson friend who died in 1985 in Germany. The DA's office had her body exhumed, and a new autopsy shows her death was similar to Kathleen Peterson's death.
The prosecution has been spending a lot of time on Ratliff during jury-selection interviews. One woman was dismissed because she said she's already formed an opinion on the case based on the Ratliff autopsy.
The selection process is moving slower than expected and opening statement could be weeks away.