Local/State

Michael Peterson impacted by SBI report?

Friday, August 20, 2010

The scathing report on North Carolina's crime lab that came out Wednesday could give Durham novelist Mike Peterson's murder case a second look.

It is not among the nearly 200 cases called into question, but Peterson's attorneys are already reviewing blood analysis in the death of Peterson's wife in hopes of getting the convicted killer a new trial.

One of the witnesses against Peterson was SBI analyst Duane Deaver. He was taken taken off the job this week after the report found his work among the worst done on scores of flawed criminal cases.

The outside review of the blood analysis unit at the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation crime lab says Deaver overstated or falsely reporting blood test results in five cases.

At Peterson's trial, the then-confident SBI analyst told the jury about the crime scene in the death of Peterson's wife. He said the spattering of blood was consistent with a beating.

"I didn't see any alteration of those stains, it's something that I'm very experienced with and looked for very carefully," he said in 2003.

Nearly seven years later, Deaver's work is under the microscope and Peterson's attorneys are reviewing the case.

"We are confident that Mr. Peterson will receive a new trial," attorney Larry Pollard said.

Pollard is one of several attorneys ready to defend Peterson if he gets a new trial. But the man who tried the case, David Rudolf, tells ABC11 Eyewitness News the SBI report alleging Deaver's bias is just the tip of the iceberg.

"[Prosecutor] Freda Black focused on Deaver in particular and talked about how he was tried and true ... and the jury would have to believe Duane Deaver was a liar in order to reject his testimony, now we know what Duane Deaver was," Rudolf said.

But the attorney for Peterson's stepdaughter, who filed a wrongful death suit against him, believes the jury made the right call.

"The SBI's report primarily deals with the presence of blood and not the blood splatter," attorney Jay Trehy said. "To the extent that one wants to believe Deaver's testimony wasn't critical to the case, they haven't talked to the jurors. The jurors went to the house ... the logic that so much blood splattered so high on the walls could come from falling in a tight space defies all logic.

Still, Peterson is said to be excited about the investigation into the SBI crime lab.

"Of course he would be, to be in jail for something you didn't do for a long period of time and to have this come out is just a blessing," Pollard said.

It's also an opportunity, Pollard says, to reintroduce his theory an owl attacked Kathleen Peterson - not her husband.

"We're now closing in on the facts of this mystery and solving this mystery and that I think is the silver lining," Pollard said.

However, Rudolf stopped short of supporting that owl theory, saying Peterson needs only prove he didn't kill his wife.

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durham county, michael peterson, sbi, local/state
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