Attorney: NC novelist reaches plea deal in 2001 murder case
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Almost 15 years after he was convicted of killing his wife, a North Carolina novelist has made a plea deal to end the case before his retrial, a lawyer said Tuesday.
Attorney David Rudolf, who represented Michael Peterson at his 2003 trial, said in an email that a hearing is scheduled for Feb. 24 in the case. Although Rudolf said the agreement would resolve all charges against Peterson, he didn’t provide details.
Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Kathleen Peterson, who was found at the bottom of a staircase at the couple’s mansion in 2001. The trial was televised live and became a documentary film and a made-for-TV movie.
He served nine years in prison, but was granted a new trial and released after the work of Duane Deaver, a State Bureau of Investigation agent who provided key blood analysis testimony, was discredited.
Deaver was a key witness at Peterson’s trial but was fired in January 2011 after an independent audit found problems in 34 cases where he either misreported test results, withheld results that could have helped the defendant or overstated the strength of the evidence to help prosecutors.
Peterson, 73, has maintained his wife died in an accidental fall after drinking alcohol and taking Valium.
A former Marine in the Vietnam War, Peterson’s novels include the 1990 “A Time of War,” an in-the-trenches look at the war, and a 1995 sequel, “A Bitter Peace.” Peterson was also a regular columnist for The Herald-Sun of Durham and mounted an unsuccessful campaign to become mayor.