Judge Warns Attorneys Of Potential Jury Poisoning In Peterson Case
Posted October 18, 2002 6:07 a.m. EDT
DURHAM, N.C. — As attorneys bickered Friday over evidence in the high-profile murder case of novelist Mike Peterson, the judge warned that the disputes could result in poisoning potential jury pools when the trial starts next year.
Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson warned that the intense media coverage of the case - including Friday's hearing where five television cameras were arranged in the jury box - could boomerang.
"When you have a high-profile trial, you have to be careful about what you say to the press, who will transmit it to the jurors who are going to hear this trial," Hudson said.
"When you have a high-profile trial like this, you may have some trouble picking a jury. Be aware of that when you have these hearings."
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 a First Amendment right to speak, but he warned both sides that they should 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.