Yesterday at the United States Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, a board of inquiry met to discuss the fate of Lisa Nowak, the astronaut who fell from glory when she stalked a love rival in 2007.  From the beginning, the Navy said they would wait until the civilian courts finished up with the criminal case against Nowak before taking any action against her.  With that impediment out of the way last November, the Navy finally made its move.

The state presented evidence about her attack on Colleen Shipman and Lisa took the stand for about an hour.  At the end of the day, the panel recommended that Lisa be demoted from Commander to Captain, thus reducing her retirement pay grade and that she be given a less than honorable discharge from the Navy.  The final decision on the recommendation will be made by the Secretary of the Navy.

A startling and damning report about North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab and Investigator Duane Deaver filled supporters of Michael Peterson with hope. Although Peterson’s conviction for the murder of Kathleen Peterson was not one of the two hundred cases called into question by the expose, Michael’s attorneys are scrambling to find something in the report to help their client.  Duane Deaver spent many hours testifying during the trial, thus raising the question of whether or not there was a fair trial.
Michael’s two sons and the two orphaned girls, whom he raised, have sent a letter to the editor demanding a new trial.  Attorney Larry Pollack, of the oft-ridiculed owl theory, presented three affidavits from experts who state that an owl could have killed Kathleen.  Pointing to the wounds on her skull, they claim the injuries could have been cause by one of the big birds.  How, though, do you explain that the marks on Kathleen’s head were strikingly similar to those on Liz Ratliff’s head?  Michael Peterson was the last man to see both Liz and Kathleen before they died at the bottom of a flight of stairs.  Does he have such bad luck that an owl would strike twice in the same manner?  Is he an owl whisperer?
As for Duane Deaver’s testimony, I am not certain how much his testimony impacted the jury.  Jurors told me that they were more convinced that Kathleen was beaten to death by the counter-intuitive statements of a defense witness, Dr. Henry Lee.  For me, the pivotal piece of evidence came, not from Deaver, but from the forensic pathologist, Deborah Radisch.  The red neurons found in Kathleen’s brain tissue made a lie of Michael Peterson’s story of that night and proved the state’s theory of murder.
My biggest concern over this week’s revelations is the impact they will have on the family members of Michael Peterson’s victims.  We wish for all of them the strength they need to withstand this new blow to their peace of mind.

Richard Marc Evonitz keeps popping up from time to time because of the unwillingness of law enforcement to test forensic evidence.

Evonitz committed suicide in 2002.  He was conclusively linked to the murders of Sofia Silva and sisters Kristin and Kati Lisk in 1996 and 1997 after his death.  But that left a lot of suspicion about his possible involvement in other murders in Virginia: the 29 Stalker homicide of Alicia Showalter Reynolds in 1996; the double murder of Julie Williams and Laura Winans in the Shenandoah National Park that same year; and four Colonial Parkway murders in 1986-1989.

The families want answers and have asked again and again for action.  On Thursday, the Fredricksburg Free Lance Star ran an editorial pleading for the necessary testing.  Law Enforcement should heed their call.