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Mike Peterson Being Evaluated In State Prison

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DURHAM, N.C. — A novelist sentenced to prison for themurder of his wife will spend up to two weeks in a diagnosticcenter at the state's maximum security prison.

Mike Peterson, 59, was convicted last week of first-degreemurder for the Dec. 9, 2001, death of wife Kathleen Peterson, whoprosecutors said was beaten to death.

Peterson, a former newspaper columnist and Durham mayoralcandidate, was taken to Central Prison in Raleigh shortly afterSuperior Court Judge Orlando Hudson Jr. imposed a sentence of lifewithout parole.

While Peterson is at Central Prison, he will undergo tests togauge his intelligence, aptitudes and general health, prisonofficials said. With that information, the state can decide whereto place Peterson in the state prison system.

"Whatever his needs are, we would try to address ... all offenders undergo pretty much the same procedures," said Mildred Spearman, spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Correction.

Peterson's lawyers said they plan to appeal the conviction, aprocess that will take months, if not years.

After the diagnostic period, Peterson could be transferred toone of the state's 13 close custody prisons for men,including Central Prison.

Once in prison, Peterson will be allowed one personal visit aweek for up to one hour with a maximum of two adults and one child.His lawyers have nearly unlimited access.

Peterson said in 2002 that he made good friends during his firstlong-term incarceration in the Durham County Jail after he wasarrested. He got out of jail on $850,000 secured bond that used hismansion as collateral.

Now, Peterson will celebrate his 60th birthday Oct. 23 inCentral Prison.

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