Two decades later, Mike Peterson murder case still fascinates many
Twenty years ago, a local business executive was found in a pool of blood at the bottom of a staircase in her Durham mansion, setting off one of the most notorious and longest-running criminal cases in Triangle history.Posted — Updated
Days after Kathleen Peterson's death on Dec. 9, 2001, her husband, novelist and one-time Durham mayoral candidate Mike Peterson, was charged with murder.
Mike Peterson insisted that his wife died after falling down the stairs. But following a three-month trial in 2003 that included testimony from a male escort and evidence about a family friend who was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in Germany years earlier, a jury convicted him of beating his wife to death. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Peterson was finally granted a new trial in December 2011 when Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson ruled that a key prosecution witness, former State Crime Lab blood analyst Duane Deaver, had lied on the stand during the original trial.
Hudson sentenced him to 64 to 86 months in prison but gave him credit for the more than seven years he had already spent behind bars, allowing him to walk out of the courtroom a free man.
Fascination with the case only grew after his conviction.
Peterson, now 78, still lives in Durham.
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