Local News

Judge: Peterson must keep monitor bracelet on ankle

Posted August 10, 2012 7:24 a.m. EDT
Updated August 10, 2012 6:49 p.m. EDT

— A Superior Court judge ordered Friday that Durham novelist and one-time mayoral candidate Mike Peterson must continue wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet while awaiting a new trial in the death of his wife.

Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder in the Dec. 9, 2001, death of his wife. Kathleen Peterson was found dead in a pool of blood at the bottom of a staircase in the couple's upscale Durham home.

Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson ruled last December that a key prosecution witness in Peterson's 2003 murder trial gave false and misleading testimony, and he ordered Peterson released on $300,000 bond pending a retrial.

The state has appealed Hudson's ruling.

Since his release, Peterson has been under house arrest in Durham and is required to wear an ankle bracelet to keep track of his whereabouts.

He filed a motion last month asking for the conditions of his bond to be relaxed so he could ditch the bracelet and move about more freely. He says he suffers from sciatica, which makes wearing the bracelet painful.

"Keeping this on this particular person – I don't know if it's appropriate for every defendant out there or any defendant out there – but on this particular person, is inappropriate because it's cruel," defense attorney Kerry Sutton argued.

Christi Long, pre-trial services supervisor for Durham County, said that the monitor had been moved from one leg to the other after Peterson complained of pain. She noted that he had previous problems with his legs unrelated to the monitor.

Sutton also said that Peterson isn't a flight risk because his bond is secured by his son's home and other family property.

"He is not in any way going to risk the home of his grandchildren and live a life of flight the rest of his days," she said.

Judge Michael O'Foghludha ruled, however, that there was no evidence that the monitoring bracelet caused a July 11 trip by Peterson to a local emergency room, where he was treated for leg pain.

Peterson said after the hearing that he was disappointed by the ruling, but he and Sutton said they would put together more medical documentation and seek another court hearing.

Durham County Assistant District Attorney Roger Echols said that Peterson already has been given a low bond for a murder case, and the other bond conditions need to remain in place to ensure public safety and that he doesn't flee the area.

Kathleen Peterson's two sisters asked O'Foghludha to return their former brother-in-law to jail if he couldn't wear the ankle monitor.

"He's a proven danger to my family," Lori Campell said, adding that she feels unsafe because Peterson blames his in-laws for his legal troubles. "Michael's reasons for fleeing are increasing, not decreasing. If anything, he should be more closely monitored."

Candace Zamperini said Peterson threatened her in a French documentary made about the case several years ago. She became so upset that she started yelling at Peterson from the witness stand, and O'Foghludha had to tell her to lower her voice.

"You think that ankle bracelet is enough when he tries to intimidate me by film?" Zamperini said in court. "I'd like to feel safe."