Defense argues evidence mishandled in Peterson case

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Monday, August 15, 2016
Michael Peterson heading back to court
Durham novelist Michael Peterson heading back to court

DURHAM (WTVD) -- Durham novelist Michael Peterson was back in court Monday for a motions hearing involving the 2001 murder of his wife Kathleen.

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.

His defense team argued Monday 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 says 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.

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. His attorneys are asking the judge to dismiss the murder charge because they say evidence in the case was mishandled by the state.

The hearing is expected to last several days.

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