Most of the truth tends to emerge in the end.
Michael Peterson will apparently and essentially concede in a plea deal with prosecutors that he is criminally involved in the killing of his wife, Kathleen Peterson, in the wee hours of Dec. 9, 2001, in Durham’s Forest Hills neighborhood.
The memory of Kathleen finally freed, it seems, from the unyielding untruths Peterson has told for so long, bolstered by his attorney, David Rudolf.
Peterson was once convicted of first-degree murder and went to prison for years, but then the conviction was overturned.
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Now, currently free, it looks like Peterson is soon going to announce, for all intents and purpose: I did it. She died because of me.
“Kathleen was my life,” Peterson recounted in the book “Written in Blood” by Diane Fanning.
“She is there, but I can’t stop crying,” he continued.
Peterson said he’d never have done anything to hurt his late wife. He wasn’t crying.
It was a storybook marriage, attorney Rudolf espoused hyperbolically in the summer of 2003, standing on the courtroom carpet during the three-month drama.
Kathleen Peterson didn’t fall of her own volition down a narrow set of stairs, wind up at the bottom with multiple, distinct lacerations on the top of her head, lying in a pool of blood with countless dots in red sprayed on and near the corner of a wall.
The jury never bought that baseless theory.
Evidence inside her body showed Kathleen was left for two hours or maybe more to die, said a state medical witness.
Peterson maintained he was smoking a cigar in his shorts by the mansion pool in the December darkness, unaware of the life dissipating nearly within earshot.
His swagger and hubris challenged the conscience and common sense of anyone who chose to look at the evidence.
The man postured for 16-plus years, especially as the scary star of the award-winning documentary, “The Staircase.”
Evidence be damned. Suffering be damned. Accountability be damned.
In establishing he was involved in Kathleen’s death, it isn’t a fall from grace, either. Peterson is a lot of things, and graceful isn’t one of them.
What might he or his attorney Rudolf, a man who has worked hard on behalf of some people wrongfully convicted – for real – say after the plea is offered up?
In court, it will likely be an acknowledgment there is evidence to prove him guilty of killing his wife, but without detail about what happened.
The overdramatic duo could take the high road for a change, and say nothing.
Instead, outside of the proceedings, one or both of may posit that Peterson ended this travesty to protect the “family” from the pain of another trial.
He or Rudolf may also say afterward that his so-called love for Kathleen led him to a moment of unrestrained passion that terrible night. Say things got out of hand, that he lost control in a fit of rage.
He might even utter an apology of a sort.
All of that, in my view, would be little more than yet another transparent attempt at hero-hood: Peterson again seeking the spotlight.
Of course, he could have admitted his involvement on Dec. 9, 2001. And pleaded guilty in a normal way days or weeks later. But normal is not Peterson.
One must still ask: wasn’t murderous intent involved if, as the police, medical examiner and prosecutors believed, Kathleen was beaten mercilessly until she had no chance of surviving?
Then, was the scene in fact staged, merely another fiction?
The panting Peterson on the 911 call, claiming she fell down the stairs and wasn’t breathing.
There was no need for EMS to rush.
Kathleen was smart, vibrant, professionally successful, by all accounts a superb daughter, mother, sister, and friend.
Her casket has been under the ground at Maplewood Cemetery as the charade above ground played on.
It is not always silent by her marker. Wind chimes were fastened long ago to the tree that towers over Kathleen’s grave.
The victim’s sisters about a week ago went to visit. The air was still.
Candace Zamperini told me the chimes were inexplicably sounding that day as the loved ones left flowers, and tidied up Kathleen’s plot. She was soothed.
About the prospective guilty plea, Zamperini declares her truth.
“It’s not perfect justice – but it's justice.”