Local News

Mike Peterson Being Evaluated In State Prison

Posted October 14, 2003 4:06 a.m. EDT

— A novelist sentenced to prison for the murder of his wife will spend up to two weeks in a diagnostic center at the state's maximum security prison.

Mike Peterson, 59, was convicted last week of first-degree murder for the Dec. 9, 2001, death of wife Kathleen Peterson, who prosecutors said was beaten to death.

Peterson, a former newspaper columnist and Durham mayoral candidate, was taken to Central Prison in Raleigh shortly after Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson Jr. imposed a sentence of life without parole.

While Peterson is at Central Prison, he will undergo tests to gauge his intelligence, aptitudes and general health, prison officials said. With that information, the state can decide where to 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, a process that will take months, if not years.

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

Once in prison, Peterson will be allowed one personal visit a week 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 first long-term incarceration in the Durham County Jail after he was arrested. He got out of jail on $850,000 secured bond that used his mansion as collateral.

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