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Lawyers, Judge To Discuss Jury Selection In Peterson Trial

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DURHAM, N.C. — Prosecutors, defense attorneys and the judgein the case of the Durham novelist accused of killing his wife willmeet to discuss how to obtain an impartial jury in the highlypublicized case.

The lawyers and Superior Court Judge Orlando F. Hudson will meetFriday to discuss the best way to choose jurors for the trial ofMichael Peterson, scheduled to begin May 5.

Among their options summoning a separate pool of prospective jurors just for the Peterson trial. The alternative would be to summon more than the usual number of potential jurors and spread them among the Peterson case and three other cases that might be in progress at the time.

Such questions have become critical because prospective jurorsusually are notified at least a month in advance that they mustappear in court. This means that summonses for May 5 should go outas early as next week, Trial Court Administrator Kathy Shuart saidWednesday.

Shuart said 70 potential jurors usually are called for theopening day of each trial week in Durham, but more may be neededwhen the Peterson case begins.

"Obviously, when we have a trial of some notoriety, it causesus to reconsider our equations," Shuart added. "We'll have tojuggle some things. We'll just have to figure and balance."

Peterson, a novelist, former newspaper columnist and one-timemayoral candidate, is accused of first-degree murder in theDecember 2001 death of his wife of five years in the couple's home.

Nortel Networks executive Kathleen Peterson was found dead atthe bottom of some stairs in the sprawling home.

Peterson has said she apparently died from an accidental falldown the stairway. But police and prosecutors pointed to what theysaid was evidence of murder, including numerous deep gashes to theback of Kathleen Peterson's head.

Peterson would face a mandatory sentence of life in prisonwithout parole if convicted of first-degree murder. The deathpenalty is not being sought.

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