Thanks to screw-ups at the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Michael Peterson may get another opportunity to get away with murder. Peterson is currently serving life without parole after the 2003 conviction for the murder of his wife Kathleen. Duane Deaver, a disgraced and terminated forensic specialist who testified at his trial, could be used as a reason to dismiss that verdict.
Among the media in the courtroom during the trial, most believed Peterson was guilty but suspected he would be acquitted or that the jury would not be able to reach a unanimous decision. That belief was prevalent because Peterson had one million dollars to spend on his defense and because they doubted that the jurors could understand the medical evidence that pointed to Michael Peterson.
It was not simple science but the presence of red neurons in Kathleen’s brain made it clear that Michael’s story of that night’s events was a big lie. However, there was a nurse on the jury who was able to explain the testimony in terms the others, without medical training, could understand.
The defense initially claimed that Kathleen was not murdered, she was simply a victim of a tragic fall. Later on appeal, they pointed to a tire iron found in bushes claiming it must have been the murder weapon discarding by the fleeing perpetrator. Then, they claimed her death was caused by the malovelent forces of nature–an attack by an owl. Apparently their strategy was anything or anyone but Michael.
There is no doubt in my mind that Michael Peterson is guilty of the murder of his second wife. I also believe that he was responsbile for the death of Liz Ratliff sixteen years earlier. The irresponsible behaviour of investigators at the scene of Liz’s murder combined with the inexperience of the pathologist who performed her first autopsy probably mean that he will never be prosecuted for that murder. The Durham Police, on the other hand, were thorough in their investigation. Even if state investigator Duane Deaver had not been at the scene, the evidence gathered by the local police department and through the autopsy was sufficient to charge and convict Michael Peterson.
Now because Michael wants to play another game with the system, the family members who loved Kathleen or Liz will have to stand on the sidelines once again hoping that justice will not be undermined, praying that Michael Peterson will stay in prison where he belongs.
Written in Blood is my book on this case.