Judge says Peterson must keep wearing ankle bracelet

jwise@newsobserver.comAugust 10, 2012 


Michael Peterson listens to witness Tom Bevel at his hearing at the Durham County Courthouse in Durham, N.C. on Tuesday, December 13, 2011. Bevel, a nationally recognized expert and author of the textbook Bloodstain Pattern Analysis, testified that former SBI agent Duane DeaveraÔs testimony at the 2003 murder trial of Durham novelist did not meet the accepted standards of bloodstain pattern analysis at the time. Peterson is seeking a new trial, arguing that Deaver has a history of fabricating evidence of guilt, hiding evidence of innocence and tailoring his testimony to fit prosecutorsaÔ theories.

SHAWN ROCCO — srocco@newsobserver.com

— Michael Peterson will have to keep wearing his ankle monitor, a judge ruled Friday, denying the writer’s motion to remove it while he awaits word whether he will get a new murder trial.

Peterson, who was convicted in 2003 of killing his wife Kathleen, was released from prison in December after Durham Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson ruled he deserves a new day in court. The Durham district attorney’s office has appealed that ruling.

In a motion filed July 17, Peterson attorney Kerry Sutton said the ankle monitor was “extremely painful at times” and that Peterson had even sought treatment for pain at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s emergency room.

The hospital diagnosed the cause of Peterson’s pain as sciatica and made no mention of the monitor as a cause of his pain.

“There has been no medical showing that the monitor is the cause” of Peterson’s sciatica, Superior Court Judge Michael O’Foghludha said in rejecting the motion. “Therefore there has been no change in circumstances, so ... the conditions of bond shall remain the same.”

Under those conditions, Peterson posted a $300,000 bond, must wear the monitor, remain at home between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. and may not travel outside Durham, Orange and Wake counties without his supervisor’s permission.

Reason for retrial

In a written order filed in May, Hudson said Peterson’s 2003 murder conviction was obtained with “materially misleading” and “deliberately false” testimony from State Bureau of Investigation crime lab agent Duane Deaver, who was the most crucial witness in a case that spawned TV movies, books and a film.

If the appeals court reverses Hudson’s decision, Peterson will resume serving a life sentence for murder.

In court Friday, Sutton argued that she does not expect a decision on Peterson’s second trial before 2014 and that to date he has complied with his release terms. Peterson, currently living with a friend, is not a flight risk, she said.

“We don’t need to punish this man; we just need to be sure he’s in court when he’s supposed to be,” Sutton said.

Christie Long, Peterson’s pretrial services supervisor, said there have been no instances of noncompliance and confirmed his trip to the emergency room. She also said Peterson had complained of discomfort and that at his request the monitor was moved from his left ankle to his right.

Calls for restriction

But Assistant District Attorney Roger Echols argued, “His medical condition is no reason to relax his bond,” and cited Long’s testimony that, since his trip to the emergency room, Peterson has not complained of discomfort again.

Kathleen Peterson’s sisters, Lori Campbell and Candace Zamperini, also urged O’Foghludha to deny Peterson’s motion.

“The state’s appeal is still in process,” Campbell said. “If the Court of Appeals decides there will not be a new trial, how will we find Mr. Peterson? ... He is a desperate, dangerous man.”

Zamperini, glaring and jabbing a finger toward Peterson from the witness stand, claimed Peterson had threatened her in a film shot since his release.

“I’m asking you, sir, to seriously consider putting (Peterson) in jail,” Zamperini said to the judge. “This is a violent, homicidal man.”

Through the 50-minute hearing, Peterson displayed no emotion. He and Sutton left the Judicial Building quickly after O’Foghludha made his ruling.

Wise: 919-641-5895

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