Appeals court orders new trial for Durham novelist Michael Peterson
DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Durham novelist Michael Peterson should get a new trial in the death of his wife Kathleen.
Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder in his wife's 2001 death. She was found at the bottom of a bloody staircase in the couple's mansion. Peterson has maintained his wife died in an accidental fall after drinking alcohol and taking Valium.
Prosecutors appealed a 2011 ruling by Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson that State Bureau of Investigation analyst Duane Deaver misled jurors about the strength of bloodstain evidence in his 2003 trial.
Judge Hudson granted Peterson a new trial, and released him from prison on a $300,000 bond. He has been under house arrest since December 2011.
In its opinion Tuesday, the Court of Appeals said "After careful review, we conclude that the evidence concerning Agent Deaver's qualifications constitutes newly discovered evidence entitling defendant to a new trial. Thus, we affirm the trial court's order."
The state attorney general's office had tried to convince the court that a new trial would be a waste of taxpayer money. They argued that without Deaver's questionable testimony, a jury would still come to the same conclusion -- a guilty verdict.
With Tuesday's ruling, the Durham County District Attorney's office will have to consider giving Peterson a new trial, offering him a plea agreement, or dismissing the case altogether.
michael peterson, local/state
- Police investigate shooting death as homicide 41 min ago
- FDA to regulate e-cigarettes
- Photos: People's 'Most Beautiful' list of 2014
- Photos: 'That happened how?' Bizarre mix-ups
- Residents concerned about coal ash in Kerr Lake
- Dogwood Festival ready for weather, crowds
- Mother claims daughter assaulted on field trip
- 11 kids, driver hurt in Calif. school bus crash
- I-Team: Babies not getting care due to backlog
- I-Team: Mom warns of shopping cart danger
- Public memorial service set for Danielle Locklear
- Local roofer banned from taking money up front
- New Georgia law makes it legal to carry weapons into bars,...
- Video: Historic NCSU building set for demolition