Michael Peterson to get court-appointed attorney

DURHAM (WTVD) -- Novelist Michael Peterson will get a court-appointed attorney for his second trial in the 2001 murder of his wife Kathleen.

Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder in 2003 and sentenced to life in prison.

He was ordered released pending a new trial in 2011 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 upheld that decision in December.

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.

It's not clear who will now represent Peterson in his second trial. Peterson is considered indigent.

Attorney David Rudolf said Thursday it's up to IDS (Indigent Defense Services) to decide whether he can represent Peterson.

Usually, they appoint local attorneys, but Rudolf is based out of Charlotte.

Rudolf said he's been working pro bono for Peterson. He'd like to be appointed and finally get paid. But, says this case isn't a "money maker" for him.

Rudolf also said Thursday that he and Peterson are open to a possible plea deal that does not involve Peterson returning to prison. There was no word if prosecutors are considering offering any kind of plea deal.

Attorney Kerry Sutton is no longer with the defense team. Attorney Butch Williams is now assisting Rudolf.

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