Local News

Defense Attorneys Claim Police Never Saw Blowpoke In Garage

Posted September 25, 2003 11:38 a.m. EDT
Updated December 9, 2006 10:27 p.m. EST

— Just before wrapping their case, defense attorneys in the Mike Peterson murder trial said they found a blowpoke in the garage of the Petersons' house. Prosecutors claimed a blowpoke that may have been used to kill Kathleen Peterson disappeared from the house.

Prosecutors believe Mike Peterson beat his wife, Kathleen, to death at their Durham home on Dec. 9, 2001. They said a blowpoke that may have been the murder weapon disappeared from the Peterson house. But in court Tuesday, defense attorney David Rudolf pulled a cobweb-covered blowpoke out of a bag.

Lead detective Art Holland, of the Durham Police Department, sat stonefaced as Rudolf placed the poker in front of him on the witness stand.

On Sunday, Judge Orlando Hudson signed an order allowing the defense to remove the blowpoke from the house.

Prosecutors claim the blowpoke Rudolf had in court was shorter and did not have a hookline end like the one they thought may have been used on Kathleen Peterson. District attorney Jim Hardin later asked Holland about three extensive police searches of the Peterson mansion.

"Did you see in the garage anything that looked like the blowpoke?" Hardin asked Holland.

"No, I didn't," Holland replied.

Caitlin Atwater, Kathleen Peterson's daughter, said the sudden appearance of the blowpoke is just a distraction.

"It doesn't change the fact the autopsy says my mother was beaten to death," Atwater said. "If this was the blowpoke -- I don't know -- but it's not how she ended up at the bottom of the stairs. Nothing is going to change that."

Rudolf would not comment about who found the blowpoke or when the person found it. He said he is confident the jury will understand the significance of the latest evidence.

"There is no missing blowpoke," Rudolf said. "The blowpoke was there. The only thing that was missing was the thoroughness of the police search and what they did to prepare for this case."