Judge rules Michael Peterson will stand trial in murder case

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Michael Peterson in a hearing (WTVD)

A judge ruled in a hearing Monday that Durham novelist Michael Peterson will stand trial in the 2001 murder of his wife Kathleen.

The trial was set for May 8, 2017.

Lawyers for Peterson argued that key DNA evidence can't be retested because it is in such poor condition.

Peterson's children were in court and started crying when the judge ruled the case would not be dismissed.

"We were hoping that this would be the end, but it's not. So we tee up and prepare for trial in May," said defense attorney Mary Jude Darrow.

Peterson, who was also a former newspaper columnist and candidate for mayor of Durham, was convicted of first-degree murder in connection with her death in 2003 and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

However in 2011, he was ordered released pending a new trial by Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson. Hudson found that SBI blood analyst Duane Deaver gave false and misleading testimony at Peterson's first trial.

The North Carolina Supreme Court later upheld that decision.

At a hearing earlier this year, his defense team argued they cannot possibly retest some of the evidence in the case considering what it looks like now.

The evidence bags were presented in court with rips and tears, some of it spilling out. The defense said the bags should have been sealed and that now there could be cross contamination.

A few court clerks were grilled on the stand on how they handled the evidence.

At Monday's hearing, a DNA expert is testifying about whether retesting is possible.

Kathleen Peterson 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.

Peterson is currently out of jail.

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