Local News

Judge Warns Attorneys Of Potential Jury Poisoning In Peterson Case

Posted Updated

DURHAM, N.C. — As attorneys bickered Friday over evidencein the high-profile murder case of novelist Mike Peterson, thejudge warned that the disputes could result in poisoning potentialjury pools when the trial starts next year.

Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson warned that the intensemedia coverage of the case - including Friday's hearing where fivetelevision cameras were arranged in the jury box - could boomerang.

"When you have a high-profile trial, you have to be carefulabout what you say to the press, who will transmit it to the jurorswho are going to hear this trial," Hudson said.

"When you have a high-profile trial like this, you may havesome trouble picking a jury. Be aware of that when you have thesehearings."

On Friday, Peterson's attorneys claimed investigators have been sharing more evidence with Kathleen sister, Candace Zamperini, than with the defense. The prosecution is required by law to share its evidence with the defense team.

Zamperini took the stand Friday to discuss a TV interview that she had done. During that interview, Zamperini mentioned a murder weapon and a motive without going into detail. David Rudolf, Peterson's attorney, questioned Zamperini about the information in the interview.

Zamperini testified that she only assumed that there was a weapon.

"We discussed that there was a murder weapon based on my sister's autopsy. That is what we discussed," she said.

Rudolf asked the judge to admonish Zamperini for her comments, but the judge refused, saying she had aFirst Amendment right to speak, but he warned both sides that theyshould try to control statements by potential witnesses.

Also during Friday's hearing, Rudolf claimed that prosecutors are trying to link Kathleen's death to a similar incident 17 years ago. A friend of Mike Peterson was found dead in Germany at the bottom of a staircase with a deep cut to her head. Kathleen Peterson was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in the couple's mansion last December.


Copyright 2023 by WRAL.com and the Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.