Local News

SBI troubles prompt Mike Peterson to seek new trial

Posted February 15, 2011 6:54 p.m. EST
Updated February 16, 2011 6:02 p.m. EST

— Convicted killer Mike Peterson on Monday filed a motion for a new trial, blaming testimony from a recently discredited state analyst for his conviction.

Prosecutors had said the Durham novelist beat his wife to death while defense attorneys claim Kathleen Peterson died from an accidental fall down a staircase.

He is serving a life sentence at Nash Correctional Institution in Nashville.

The State Bureau of Investigation last month fired Duane Deaver, the agent whose testimony of blood spatters in the Peterson home was key evidence for prosecutors to convict Peterson.

An independent review last year concluded that SBI analysts frequently misstated or falsely reported blood evidence in about 200 criminal cases during a 16-year period ending in 2003. Some of the most egregious violations found in the investigation were linked to Deaver.

"Duane Deaver fabricated evidence, falsely described his observations at the Peterson house in December 2001 and provided false, misleading and scientifically unreliable testimony regarding the analysis of the bloodstains found in the stairway, the hallway next to the stairway and on Michael Peterson’s shorts and sneakers," Peterson attorney David Rudolf wrote in the 36-page motion. "All of this conduct deprived Michael Peterson of due process of law and requires that Michael Peterson receive a new trial."

It's unclear whether the motion will lead to a new trial.

Peterson has exhausted his appeals on the state level, and his case is pending in federal court. Attorneys also have sought countless times to get a new trial, introducing new evidence, including a tire iron found in a neighbor's yard and owl feathers found in Kathleen Peterson's hair from a possible owl attack.