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Second Extension Filed For State's Response To Michael Peterson Appeal

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The state filed a second motion Wednesday to extend its deadline to respond to a 96-page appeal of the 2003 conviction of former Durham mayoral candidate Michael Peterson.

Peterson's lawyer, Thomas Maher, filed the appeal in October that argued jurors never should have heard testimony during his client's murder trial about Peterson's sexuality or the death of a family friend in Germany.

The North Carolina attorney general's office was originally given a 30-day extension on its response, making the deadline Dec. 14. In the motion, however, Attorney General Roy Cooper asks that the deadline be extended again until Jan. 17, citing "the exceptional length of the trial has resulted in 78 volumes of transcript, amounting to more than 13,000 pages to be considered."

Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Nortel Networks executive Kathleen Peterson. The trial lasted more than three months and consisted of 66 witnesses -- including a male prostitute and former neighbors of Peterson when he lived in Germany -- and more than 500 pieces of evidence.

The defense argued that Peterson found his wife bleeding to death at the bottom of a staircase in the couple's Durham mansion, but prosecutors successfully argued that Peterson killed his wife, although it had neither a clear motive nor a murder weapon.

Prosecutors did argue possible motives, which included financial problems and Peterson's bisexuality. While it never could produce a murder weapon, former District Attorney Jim Hardin argued that it was believed to have been a hollow fire place poker that Kathleen Peterson's sister had given to her.

Peterson is also being sued by his stepdaughter, Caitlin Atwater, in a wrongful death lawsuit. Atwater contends that Peterson "maliciously" assaulted his wife and caused her death. That trial is scheduled for June 19.

Peterson is currently serving a life sentence at Nash Correctional Institution.

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