New Peterson trial costs could add up

December 16, 2011 3:14:58 PM PST
One of the longest and most expensive trials in state history is starting all over, which will cost the Durham County Court System more time and money.

Now that Judge Orlando Hudson has granted convicted murderer Michael Peterson a new trial, the process will start from scratch once again.

The 2003 murder trial lasted nearly six months, and court officials estimated it cost North Carolina taxpayers more than $143,000 in direct costs. That figure does not take into account courthouse personnel who would have been working on other cases had they not been tied up with the Peterson case.

That number also does not include the cost of Peterson's high profile defense attorney, David Rudolf, who was forced to work pro bono in Peterson's fight for a new trial.

"I have been working for free but in some ways that wasn't a choice for me. When I lost that trial it was a devastating experience personally," Rudolf said.

Rudolf says trying to win Peterson a new trial was something he felt compelled to do. When asked whether he will be on board for the new trial, he was not sure.

Other attorneys working on the case believe they can possibly come up with a way to go easy on both Michael Peterson's wallet and on North Carolina taxpayers.

"I believe that we'll be able to come to some resolution that may be short of a trial?put an end to this," attorney Kerry Sutton said.

Exactly how a trial could be avoided is unclear, but it may be a sign that negotiations are already underway.

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