Stranger Than Fiction

 Michael Peterson Murder Trial - 2  



Kathleen Hunt Atwater Peterson

"Kathleen was so capable. She died so young, with so many promising times ahead. I still can't believe it."
-- Veronica Hunt, 82, mother of Kathleen Peterson

"She was absolutely an amazing person; I'm still in awe of her. She was an amazing executive and scholar... and she could cook and sew."
-- Candace Zamperini

Kathleen's Rise

On Saturday September 20, the 2003 North Carolina Gay Pride Parade took to Durham's streets. Good and decent people from diverse families came together to celebrate the integrity of their lives. Not in whispered phone calls and dirty e-mails, but out in the open -- out in the sunlight of what the NCGP calls "the victory of human tolerance and understanding over the boundaries of race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation."


Kathleen Peterson had much to be proud of. The civic-minded business executive was what they call in the theater -- an angel -- a dedicated arts patron. There are those who would now like to shame her for that.

Michael Peterson's defenders point out that Kathleen went to Durham's gay pride parades. It's a reverse indictment meant to cancel out allegations of Michael Peterson's secrets and lies with male prostitutes. The charge dove-tails nicely with their claim that Kathleen Peterson was a reckless drinker who probably just got "shit-faced" and fell. That is to say... she was no angel.

Why would anyone attempt to bring shame to the memory of a woman with so much to be proud of?

Kathleen was bending gender stereo-types back at Duke University, where she was the first female student accepted into the engineering school, earning a master's degree there in 1975. She went on to become the Director of Information Services at Nortel Networks, overseeing hundreds of employees with patience and care. Kathleen served on the board of the Durham Arts Council and generously supported countless other community projects.

Yes, Kathleen Peterson loved a parade because apparently she loved the thought of people enjoying themselves.

A week before Kathleen's death, her own supervisor was laid off. The stress and pressure to perform must have been enormous. But on the day she died, Kathleen was scheduled to attend a holiday function for 100 underprivileged children. That's circumstantial evidence of someone who cared -- evidence that leaves no reasonable doubt about Kathleen's motives and modus operandi.

Her life is filled with proof that financial success can be achieved in conjunction with a human tolerance and understanding that says "people matter."

Kathleen Hunt Atwater Peterson matters. For the record -- she did not fall. Not once! She rose to every occasion. Kathleen continues to rise in a proudly partying legacy of all the art, life, laughter and love she meticulously planned, supported and engineered.

"She was a very good friend, She lived life to the fullest. She was a very intelligent woman and a loving mother."
-- Maureen Berry

Jim Hardin

"In this office we will do everything we can to make sure Kathleen Peterson and her family receive justice because that's my obligation. We're going to treat this defendant fairly and appropriately, but we're going to do what we have to do to make sure she gets justice."
-- Jim Hardin

"If he wants to engage in gay-bashing, he can do that. We will deal with it at jury selection."
-- David Rudolf

"It's hard whenever you finish something like this to put it behind you. I believe in Michael's innocence. This is not just a job for me. It's never been a job for me it's something I believe strongly in doing. I believe in reasonable doubt, I believe in the system."
-- David Rudolf

"They were just marvelously in love. This is clearly a retaliatory prosecution."
-- Doug Hinds

Doug Hinds
"I still know he didn't do it."

"Everybody is pretty much down, as you would be in a situation where someone has been sentence to life in prison for a crime he didn't commit."

"There is no question in all their minds."

"Bill said [Michael Peterson] is just as devastated, as we all are."

"The reasonable doubt was glaring."
-- Doug Hinds

"I don't think you can call a guilty verdict anything other than a defeat. But it's not a final defeat."
-- David Rudolf

The Show Must Go On

Murderer Michael Peterson's defenders claim they still hold on to the fiction that Kathleen Peterson died from an accident lasting 20 to 30 minutes and resulting in seven bone-deep lacerations, while Michael was sitting by the pool smoking for three hours.

Bill and Todd now know, like everyone else, that Kathleen Peterson had been dead for some time before her husband called 9-1-1, and they heard Michael sounding distraught and concerned as he twice lied, insisting his dead wife was "still breathing."

Martha and Margaret heard the same sickening testimony that everybody heard about the horribly typical beating deaths of Elizabeth Ratliff and Kathleen Peterson: "blunt force trauma" "homicide" "facial wounds" "defensive injuries" "lacerations" "blood loss". But it seems the Ratliff sisters find it more useful to believe lies -- and repeat lies. There is nothing sympathetic about a liar. Nothing.

So Michael Peterson is not done.

Yes, he's now locked in a small cage like an animal, but he's still very, very busy. Peterson is still beating, slashing, poking and murdering through Doug Hinds, Todd, Margaret, Martha and others whose names we may never know.

The evil fiction they've CHOSEN will be held as tightly as a new-born baby. Illusion, as a core-identity, is not an easy thing to maintain. Illusions must be coddled and nurtured, fed and schooled, and as they grow, they must be protected and defended -- even killed for if need be.

I suggest that film crew not pack-up and leave for France just yet. There's more death waiting in the wings.

"The war isn't over."
-- David Rudolf
, (10/10)

Todd Peterson

Caitlin Atwater

A wrongful-death civil lawsuit was filed
against Michael Peterson in October 2002
by Caitlin Atwater. It remains pending.

"On the first day when we voted ... on one element, it was unanimous. It was not a fall. It was definitely a homicide."
-- Juror, Paul Harrison

David Rudolf

"I am more disappointed than I've been in my professional career."

-- David Rudolf

Mighty Rudolf at the Bat

"My wife died on the staircase in an accidental fall,"
said Michael in his 9-1-1 emergency phone call.
"Liar!" cried the D.A., and reporters echoed "Fraud!"
But one scornful look from Rudolf and the media was awed.

They saw his face so stern and cold, they saw his scowling frown,
and bet the attack dog lawyer wouldn't let his client down.
A permanent sneer sat on Rudolf's lip, his teeth clenched hard in hate,
fiercely fighting for a man accused of beating his soul mate.

And when, like magic, he produced a blowpoke from his hat,
no court watcher could doubt, t'was David Rudolf at the bat.
And now the jury holds the form, and now they let it go,
and now the air is shattered by the jury's forceful blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And, somewhere folks are laughing, and little children shout,
But there is no joy in Durham --
mighty Rudolf has struck out.

"This came out of left field."
-- David Rudolf

"State investigators suffered from tunnel vision."
-- David Rudolf's closing

Juror, Richard Sarratt Sarratt, said the case boiled down to a few key facts that David Rudolf never disputed:

"There was dried blood on top of dried blood. Everybody in there felt that she could not have gotten those lacerations in a fall, or even two falls. It added up to a beating."

"Either he stood there and did nothing as she bled out, or he went back later and finished her off."

Purposeful Levity
We all see things through our own


"He's innocent. He's always maintained his innocence. We all know that there's lots and lots of innocent people who are convicted of crimes."

"In my mind, when the prosecution spends three months telling the jury that your client beat somebody to death with a blowpoke, and you bring in the blowpoke, if that is not reasonable doubt, I don't know what reasonable doubt is."

"Michael's major concern is with his kids. That's almost all we talked about, his kids and what impact this is going to have on them and how they will get through this. That's really all he wanted to talk about."

"What I told him is that this is a battle, but it's not the war. I think there are major, major issues to raise on appeal. Obviously, the appellate process is a lengthy process, but I think it's important for him and his family to keep their eyes on that ball, because -- in my mind -- this is far from over."
-- David Rudolf

"It's now time to move on to the next case."
-- Jim Hardin

View the Jury Instructions of evidence relating to the death of Elizabeth Ratliff.

"The Ratliff information was very, very damaging. I think the pornography and male escort evidence was very, very damaging. And the shame of it is, none of that had anything to do with what happened on that stairway. This trial should have been about what happened in that stairway and not what happened in Germany 18 years ago."

-- David Rudolf

"To this day I'm still wondering why the judge let it into evidence."
-- prostitute, Brent "BRAD" Wolgamott

"It prevented us from putting my brother on the stand."
-- Bill Peterson


Brent "Brad" Wolgamott must have the District Attorney's office on speed dial. The happy, hubby-hooking call boy apparently telephoned Hardin's office within thirty minutes of the verdict being read.

It's a good thing the vice wasn't versa. Had the DA placed a call to BRAD, it would've cost the taxpayers $3.99 a minute.

The Price is Right     1-900-976-BRAD

"I called them just to say congratulations on putting a monster behind bars."
-- Brent Wolgamott, AKA, Dr. Karl Smith

Prisoner Peterson will be allowed one phone call per week,
and will not have access to the internet.

"I'm such a part of Durham."
-- Michael Peterson

"We felt comfortable with Durham jurors and maybe that's one of those decisions you look back on and say maybe we should have done something differently, but that's hindsight."
-- David Rudolf


Peterson Jurors

Peterson Jurors

"We focused on physical evidence. We looked at the autopsy photos a lot. We looked at the autopsy report. We had a lot of discussion about the red neurons, and the passage of time that may have elapsed before she died. Those were the things that I think drove a lot of our discussion."
-- Jury foreperson, Kristen Jones

"He had a chance to stop. He didn't. It took place over a period of time. How long of a period of time, I don't know. Something happened, and it was not from a fall by Mrs. Peterson. She was beat to death."
-- Juror, Paul Harrison

"I don't have his experience, per se, but I can't imagine that a fall would cause that much blood."
-- Juror, Kellie Colgan about Henry Lee

"We know we made the right decision."
-- Juror, Shirley Ferrell (56-year-old nurse)

"I wrestled so long with -- how can a human being do this to another human being?"
-- Juror, Bettye Blackwell

"Take the time to tell the people you care about how much you care about them, and how much you love them . . . Let them know . . . Because things happen, and time is short."
-- Juror, Bettye Blackwell

"Life is too important to waste a single moment."
-- Kathleen Peterson


Hardin and Lori Hunt Campell

Lori Hunt Campell testified during rebuttal that she saw the blowpoke in Michael's mansion on a Durham stay-over, July 9 - 13, 2001. She said she remembered the poker well because her 5-year-old son began swinging it around in play. "He likes to play with sticks and swords and guns," she said. "I had to make him put it back and quit swinging it around." Curiously, Lori Campell also testified that the blowpoke she saw was shiny, "like it hadn't been used."

Considering the original blowpoke was purchased in 1984, it's very possible the shiny blowpoke Kathleen's sister saw was the Peterson surprise poker introduced by his attorney in the final days of trial.


"There was a little too much of a Perry Mason moment. I expected something like that from Rudolf. It was just smoke and mirrors."
-- Juror, Richard Sarratt

Fairytale Wagging the Dog

David Rudolf, well aware of the bogus blowpoke up his sociopathic client's sleeve, put on his poker-face and learned to live with Michael Peterson's pipe dream of acquittal.

In what must have been a marvelously maddening mind-game of -- Don't Tell, Don't Ask -- Mike, Dave, Ronny and all the murdering millionaire's men probably joked, laughed, drank and schemed through late-night strategy sessions without ever directly speaking of the poker's peculiar re-appearance.

From his demeanor, I suspect Thomas Maher tried to get out of those get-togethers.

But preferring a fictional, fire-tool finale over the simple truth, none of Peterson's pretenders ever confronted reality and asked: Who placed a time-bomb in the basement? Had someone asked that question -- aloud -- no doubt the answer would have left the PERRY MASON poker plot on the cutting room floor.

Mike's fabulous fiction of the faux poke joined forces with Dave's fantasy of masterful, last-minute legal maneuvers. At some point -- probably when it was decided that the huggable Judge Hudson could be duped into sneaking the bomb past courthouse MEDDLE detectors -- David Rudolf fell in love with the illusion.

The accidental discovery of the mysteriously missing weapon in the final hours of the murder trial was such an explosive ending that Peterson's fairytale started wagging the dog. The surprise ending inspired a three-month "SHOCK and AWE" campaign of slyly interjected exposition, thematic foreshadowing and indignant posturing.

Rudolf repeatedly fondled, flung, waved and wiggled the State's replica blowpoke in the courtroom to (nearly) everyone's astonishment. The ever-angry attorney was, in fact, seldom seen without the blowpoke, often wildly gesturing with it for no apparent reason.

And then... just as the French film crew finished the necessary lighting adjustments ...Voila! Durham's finest must've put the "U" in stupid 'cause we just happened upon what dozens of police and trained dogs failed to find during their exhaustive grid search: a slender, brassy, 40" rod of reasonable doubt.

In show biz you leave 'em wanting more -- in a court of law, the opposite is true. Unfortunately, Mike's make-believe miracle demanded endless encores to reveal, first, why the defense team was playing a coy, carnival shell game with the evidence, and secondly -- Who placed that time-bomb in Peterson's basement?

Like every other tragic reality that has resulted from Mike Peterson's fiendish fictions, the show-stopping blowpoker moment looked like exactly what it was -- a theatrical stunt. If anyone reasonably doubted that Rudolf's triumph was a tragic trick, one look at Thomas Maher's face told them -- the murder weapon hadn't just suddenly, accidentally appeared, and the showing off and inappropriate laughter from the Peterson party during the trial was an inside joke on justice.

Michael Peterson's many varied victims are all alike in one respect: they did not fear him. They were not afraid to touch him, to look into his demented eyes, to stand near him, smell him, be in the same room with him. They sensed his fear so strongly -- they denied their own fears and courageously tried to help.

Now that attorney Rudolf's SHOCK is revealed to be a 8' PowerPoint screen of smoke, and his AWE, a million dollar mirror -- he lives daily with something most of us will never even face: reasonable doubt about his own grasp of reality.

Note to Self:
Rudolf shaved his beard after the GUILTY verdict
Less Power -- More Point

A Jury of his Beers

October 1, the day before closing arguments and the day after a female juror was dismissed because she knew one of the expert witnesses -- a male juror got drunk and caused a commotion at a gas station. When police arrived, the juror insisted the officers couldn't do anything to him since he was a juror in the Peterson trial. He spent the night in a Durham County detention facility.

Jim Hardin addressed the court:

"He was -- as described by the mechanics to the officers -- he was very intoxicated. He was asking about the progression of the repair of his vehicle and got upset with the mechanics. He indicated to them that he was going to get a shot gun and come back and shoot someone."

After the incident it was revealed that the juror has a rap sheet longer than Mike Peterson's last novel, including convictions for writing bad checks, assault and DWI.

mint-flavored futazi dropsBreath mint, anyone?

And Then There were None

October 6 -- Two of the three remaining alternates replaced jurors, and the final alternate was released. Since jurors did not immediately return a verdict of GUILT -- the Peterson camp looks relaxed and jovial. Defense attorney Thomas Maher, however, seems to be less than amused.

"The jury ought to have whatever they want to have. If the jury wants to look at his opening statement and see what he did or didn't prove, that's completely appropriate. If Mr. Hardin wants to run from his opening statement he can do so, but the court ought not to be aiding him."

-- David Rudolf to Judge Hudson, about the jury's Oct. 7 request for a transcript of Jim Hardin's opening statement

"It was a particularly bad combination for Kathleen Peterson, because she had been having headaches and dizziness for weeks. You'll hear testimony about that. In one instant she actually lost her vision for thirty minutes -- and Dr. Henry Green their ophthalmologist will testify -- that he got a call from Mike saying Kathleen lost her vision, and he diagnosed it as an 'ocular migraine' and eventually her sight came back."

-- David Rudolf's opening statement

Pretense and Appearances

Text of Jim Hardin's opening statement

Accidentally on Purpose

October 6

Text of a letter "accidentally" sent to jurors from WTVD reporter, Sonya Pfeiffer:

It has been a long summer in the courtroom and I know you all have gotten to know your fellow jurors very well throughout the Peterson trial. I would like to offer an opportunity for all of you to come together again after you've decided your verdict.

While you've been listening to evidence and watching the courtroom closely, I've been doing the same thing, but I've also been watching you and wondering what you're thinking -- from laughing at Dr. Lee's ketchup experiment to taking notes during complicated computer testimony -- it's been like reading tea leaves to sort out your thoughts. I'm hoping you might be willing to share some of those thoughts with me now that the evidence is behind us.

WTVD is planning a juror dinner on Saturday, Oct. 18, at 7:30 p.m. at our studio in Durham. The address is 411 Liberty Street, 27701. We won't take up your entire evening -- and it won't be a rigidly structured event. I want you all to be able to talk with each other as well as talk to me about getting through what all of us reporters have called Camp Peterson.

Please RSVP to me by Tuesday, October 14.


Sonya Pfeiffer



October 3, 2003: State of NC gives Closing Argument

October 3, 1995: After only 4 hours, a jury acquitted
O.J. SIMPSON of murdering ex-wife Nicole Simpson
and Ronald Goldman.

Jim Hardin

Excerpts from Jim Hardin's closing

"This is not a who-done-it. If you find Kathleen Peterson was murdered, the evidence shows only one person could have done it: Michael Peterson."

"They are talking. Kathleen Peterson is talking to us through the blood on those walls. She is screaming at us for truth and justice."

"You are the eyes and the ears and the conscience of this community."

"If the defendant made all these assertions in his opening statement, why didn't you hear evidence about it?"

"The bottom line is, it didn't fit into their nice little package. Do you think the defendant was really out at the pool? He was in that house committing this act. He wasn't at the pool."

"Common sense tells you this was a beating. It wasn't a fall."

"How in the world can someone get 38 injuries by falling down some steps?"

"She's fighting for her life. That's why there's so much blood."

"He assaulted her. She went down. He continued to assault her. That's when the premeditation formulated."

"This is a horrible way to die. It must have taken her a long time to die."

"A picture is worth a thousand words. But what if those walls could talk? What would they say? Kathleen Peterson is talking to us through the blood on that wall. She is screaming at us for truth. And for justice."

Freda Black Found Guilty
of Mike-Slaughter

State of NC
Freda Black

Peterson stifled giggles, hardly able to contain his glee at having snuck up behind her and bashed her in the head with his blowpoke. To make sure she was dead, Peterson had kicked, choked and pummeled her with anything he could find. Then thinking it was all over, Mike turned his back and left her to bleed out.

But when the closing arguments started, much to Michael's surprise, Freda was not dead! "She's Still Breathing!" he cried, as the Black cat pounced on Peterson and tore into his fictional-writing head:

Freda Finally Finishes Him Off!

Text of Black's closing statement


David Rudolf began his closing argument by playing a poorly recorded tape of the beginning of Jim Hardin's opening -- an obvious attempt to duplicate his own opening remarks in the trial. (Cute is its own worst enemy.)

After insisting the defense had no burden to prove anything, the attorney began a 4-hour speech to prove that his client was innocent. Rudolf, citing, "this age of David Letterman and top ten lists," launched into the...

LATE NIGHT with David Rudolf,
TOP 10 LIST of

Link to legal comedian, David Rudolf's List





"If Elizabeth Ratliff had died the night before, she would have been in rigor -- close to full rigor, by 11, 12 o'clock. Elizabeth Ratliff died in the morning hours. Where was Michael Peterson at that time? He was at home with Patty Peterson his first wife."
-- David Rudolf's closing

"What is the alleged motive? Why? Why would Michael Peterson have murdered Elizabeth Ratliff?"
-- Rudolf's closing

"Candace had told police that in 2001, Kathleen re-did the back hallway."
-- Rudolf's closing

"Things change. Strategies change. It's fair for you to hold it against me. It's not fair to hold it against Michael Peterson . . . I know that there are times when I can be too aggressive, too repetitive, go on too long, but I am what I am. What you see is what you get . . . I apologize. Hold it against me, but please, please, please, please, please, don't hold it against Mike."
-- Rudolf's closing

"Be careful. Don't fall down some stairs, now!"
-- David Rudolf to a female court clerk who tripped during a break

"I don't know if it was murder. I don't know. When I called 911, I thought she had fallen down the stairs and as far as I know, that's what happened."
-- Peterson

Pure Wicked
from the hand of Michael Peterson

"Somewhere along the line, short going of 22 years, I've forgotten about individual responsibility -- integrity. I'd like to think that I knew it once -- had been taught it and I did . . .(illegible). But there was a flaw with my character. Genetic or organic, I do not know, but the flaw rendered me incapable of moral action. Was it . . .(illegible). Television? My elders? A misplaced gene? Again, I can't say. All I know is that I never considered myself a wicked person, certainly no more wicked than others. There is solace with the consolation that I was pure wicked. An aberrant personality."

Link to the
Poetic Justice TOP TEN

Reasons to Give Mike the
Death Penalty

Above It

Kathleen Hunt Atwater Peterson

from Maya Angelou's

"Still I Rise"

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

"And Still I Rise"

"When I called 9-1-1, I thought she'd fallen down the stairs. As far as I know, that's what happened."

Unreasonable Certainty

If, after viewing three months of testimony from sixty some witnesses and over five-hundred items of evidence, you still have some doubt -- how come Michael Peterson was so sure his wife's death was an accident mere moments after arriving on the scene?

"1810 Cedar Street... Please!"

Even the defendant's brother, Bill Peterson, is willing to admit -- if this was an accident it was a very unusual accident. It was a unique accident in that it was relentlessly violent.

"My wife had an accident!"


"She fell down the stairs!"


"She's still breathing!"


Accident or Murder?

Do you still have doubts? A year and a half after Kathleen Peterson was found dead on the floor surrounded by enormous amounts of swipes, smears and spatters of her own blood, do you harbor some doubt about how that possibly could've happened?

Michael Peterson doesn't -- and he never did.

Peterson was absolutely sure at the very instant it happened. He was certain the violent, painful death was just a fluke of fate -- even as he was changing his shoes and putting towels under his dead wife's head.

"No, she's not conscious!"

Michael Peterson had no reason to doubt that this was just a simple accidental death because for him, it was not unique. Peterson had seen the exact same accident happen fifteen years earlier to another woman he claimed he dearly loved. He had no doubts then, either.

"There's been an accident! Liz fell down the stairs and died."

Accidents Happen:
An Answer for (almost) Everything!

Narcissus Narcissus

and Echo
Elizabeth Mckee  /  Kathleen Hunt

from Bulfinch's Mythology

. . . His tears fell into the water and disturbed the image. As he saw it depart, he exclaimed, "Stay, I entreat you! Let me at least gaze upon you, if I may not touch you."

With this, and much more of the same kind, Narcissus cherished the flame that consumed him, so that by degrees he lost his color, his vigor, and the beauty which formerly had so charmed the nymph Echo. She kept near him, however, and when he exclaimed, "Alas! alas!" she answered him with the same words. He pined away and died; and when his shade passed the Stygian river, it leaned over the boat to catch a look of itself in the waters. . .


Mayor Mike

"That will be a looming question in people's minds as to why he did not testify in his own defense. The answer to that question is that the defense weighed carefully what his cross-examination would be like with respect to the male prostitute and other matters that might put him in a bad light."

Bill Thomas, a Durham defense attorney

Sep 29, 2003 -- Day 54
Final Defense witness:

Art Holland

Along with Candace Zamperini's blowpoke and the surprise blowpoke from Peterson, David Rudolf questioned Art Holland about two other identical fireplace tools collected by the prosecution from the victim's family. Ultimately, 4 blowpokes were entered into evidence.

Sep 29 --
Final Prosecution Rebuttal witness:

Dr. John Butts,
North Carolina's chief medical examiner

"There's no evidence of any significant aspiration of blood . . . If you don't see anything there, if it's not visible, then it can't really be aspirated."

"In my opinion the multitude of injuries are not consistent with a fall down the steps."

"In my opinion, the number, location and appearance of the wounds are consistent with inflicted trauma, that is not accidental trauma -- beating would be a term that one could use."

James McElhaney,
emeritus professor of engineering - Duke University

"You can't hit the flat stair surface with the top of your head in a fall."

"Two of the wounds could be attributed to contacting a horizontal edge like the stairs, but the others are in the wrong direction and start in the wrong place."

"The injuries, lacerations, bruises, contusions -- to my mind -- are inconsistent with a fall down the steps but are consistent with a beating with a blunt instrument -- most likely a rounded blunt instrument."

"The lack of skull fracture and brain injury tells me that this was a relatively light object striking the head to achieve the velocity necessary for a laceration, versus a fall down the steps, where the velocity of the head necessary to lacerate like this, I would also expect to cause brain injury and or skull fracture."

m a l i c e   a f o r e t h o u g h t
Dr. Shaibani

"But it seems to me that I ought not be required to make a choice and have to cross examine him once outside the presence of the jury, educate him about what I intend to get into, have the court then rule, and have to cross examine him again on the very same topics in front of the jury after he's already been educated about what I'm gonna ask him."

"If Mr. Rudolf has information along the lines of what he has described, that's obviously very serious. It would be something that needs to be dealt with before the jury hears additional testimony from the witness . . . We would ask that the court conduct the voir dire, as he suggested, in camera. If it's this serious we can do it in camera . . . It should be done outside the presence of the jury."

"I have no intention of going forward with voir dire if it's outside the presence of the jury."

"What is being raised is extremely serious. No one wants there to be the perpetration of any fraud on the court. So, if Mr. Rudolf -- he offered to tell the court in camera about these issues -- if he wants to do that, we need to do that."

"I withdraw my request! Mr. Hardin can put on his witness. I'm sure Mr. Hardin can find out from his witness what the truth is. It's his witness, not mine."

Shaibani on Trial
Dr. Saami Shaibani
B.A., M.A., M.Sc., Oxford, Doctorate in biomechanical engineering;
physics professor, researcher and leading consultant for the F.B.I.

"It is perjury to lie, even about something like what your position is... You've committed perjury at murder trials throughout this country."
-- David Rudolf


"Mr. Rudolf, you need to control your righteous indignation."
-- Judge Hudson
"I think that's an important message to send to this jury, to the justice system and to other junk scientists out there who are performing these kinds of stupid, ridiculous experiments masquerading as science and then coming into court and testifying and getting people convicted of first-degree murder all over this country."
-- David Rudolf

"Any claim by Mr. Shaibani that he is now a member of, or even affiliated with, the Temple University Department of Physics is fraudulent."

-- letter from Edward T. Gawlinski


"As to the last witness who appeared before you, this witness has committed perjury and the court orders you to totally disregard all the testimony of this witness."

-- Judge Hudson, Sept. 27, 2001

"There's no doubt in my mind there are people on death row or serving lengthy prison sentences because this fraud testified against them. I don't know how somebody like that sleeps at night!"
-- David Rudolf

"When railways were invented, a popular scientific theory held that even though the train could go faster than 30 mph, it should not, because the passengers’ lungs would collapse. Such absurd notions were grounded in the science of the day, which was found to be utterly flawed . . . I think this reverence for 'science' rather than God’s Word is a tremendous tool of Satan. As far as I’m concerned, the whole evolution - long ages thing requires a whole lot more faith than the creation perspective."

-- from an article on Dr. Saami Shaibani

Peterson and son Michael Peterson sat on a wall,
Kathleen Peterson had a great fall;
All Michael's lawyers and all of his lies,
Couldn't account for her brutal demise.

"In my opinion, the cause of death in this case was due to severe concussive injury of the brain caused by multiple blunt force impacts of the head. Blood loss from the deep scalp lacerations may have also played a role in her death."
-- pathologist Dr. Deborah Radisch

"I went out to turn off the pool lights.
I came back and there she was."

-- Michael Peterson to EMT Rose

"It's either a very unusual fall, or a very unusual beating."
-- Bill Peterson

"Sitting here today, I have no idea who Michael Peterson is, none whatsoever."
-- Candace Zamperini

How many Falls?

The sex, the lies and the 9-1-1 tape prosecutors have entered into evidence prove one thing for certain: nobody knew the novelist's whole story.

Nobody knows Michael Peterson and therefore how can they defend him? Who are they defending? The decorated Vietnam vet, or the clumsy husband on the phone sniveling to 9-1-1? The loving family man, father and soulmate, or the sex machine for his internet soldier/hooker? The Mayor? Or the Murderer?

Meanwhile, Kathleen Peterson is still falling down those steps to this day, in order to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.

The poor woman's been dead for two years and she hasn't stopped slipping and tumbling. First down the whole staircase, then neck-snapping swan dives from mid-way, months later she got back on her feet and fainted backwards -- twice, once crashing against the metal chair-lift, and now she's gotten back up and has actually begun a series of falls from ground-level.

The prosecution has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that Michael Peterson is a shameless liar. He was the only person with Kathleen when she was brutally murdered.

The truth is not found in tiny specs of proven and unproven facts. The search for the truth ends where all of those separate dots come together and form the picture of a liar standing over his wife's dead body, covered in blood and insisting it was an accident.

"Ethics is not a gray matter."
-- Peterson

Fictional Writer
Michael Peterson

"And you need to keep in mind, we're not dealing with the average individual over here. We're dealing with a fictional writer. Some people even say he's a good fictional writer. He is a person who knows how to create a fictional plot -- and in this case, he has tried to create one. He tried to sell it to the EMS workers… didn't work -- not ultimately -- he tried to sell it to the firemen, he tried to sell it to Corporal McDowell, to Connie Mack Bullock, to Pascal, to Art Holland. He tried to sell it to his family… and in this courtroom, he's tried to sell it to you -- a fictional plot."
-- Freda Black's closing argument

"There are many hells on this earth, but surely one is being faced with the **** you wrote years ago."

-- Mike Peterson, October 1972

Duke Chronicle

A Fictional Plot

"You try to step outside of reality when you're writing, but unfortunately things keep popping up."

"Everybody says, 'What are you going to do two years from now? What are you going to write about?' I can't go there. Not yet."

"I definitely want to get over this, but I don't know how to get over it."

"I'm such a part of Durham. I just don't know. Now there are such terrible memories here. But there are also so many people who are so supportive. I love this house. Kathleen loved this house. It's a real dilemma."

"It sort of dissipated my own sorrow. We were all part of a shared tragedy. It was very therapeutic to talk to those people. It was almost easier to be in jail than to come home to such overwhelming loss and sorrow."

"I go into a room, and she's not there. It's five o'clock and she's not coming home, and we're not going to talk. In the evening, there's no one there."

"Evenings are not great for me anyway... I'm married."

Guy Seaberg, Peterson pal and fill-in editor of was disbarred as a lawyer in Maine.

The disbarment, effective Feb. 22, 2002 came after a sustained allegation of "reprehensible" and "egregious misconduct." There is also a $1.1 million judgment against Seaberg for breach of contract, professional negligence, fraud and deceit.

"I am not a dishonest person. Did I make a mistake? Yes I did, and boy, have I paid a price for it."
-- Guy Seaberg


December 28, 2001

To keep my sanity, I write. To keep the horror at bay thinking of my wife and children I write.

'Twas the night before Christmas, but all was not still, or quiet or well, either. Twenty four of us are in Durham County jail Pod 3C

sixteen blacks, six whites and two Hispanics. All were once little boys waiting Christmas morn, though probably for many, sugar plums didn't dance in their heads. I cannot know what childhood brought these men together here tonight in this concrete and iron confinement, though all seem decent and redeemable.

One man started a carol but it withered on our lips.

I will not write about myself, certainly not about my plight, for it is shallow in the oceanic depths of sorrow here and elsewhere, but I will tell you about others not their cases, just about them

     MP Writer

News & Observer
by Aisling Swift

December 13, 2001

On Wednesday, friends and family filled Howerton-Bryan Funeral Home in Durham, where a collage of the smiling couple and their five children was displayed. Beside Kathleen Peterson, who lay in a coffin wearing a black dress and pearls, was a thick, open book, its pages blank.

On the front page, Mike Peterson, a veteran who has written three novels about Vietnam, had written a note calling her death tragic. Promising to make her the subject of his next novel, he wrote, "The next book will be about love -- requited love -- and will be about you, of course. Love, Mike."

"I would be very hard-pressed as a writer to sit down and capture this. As a novelist I could not do it. ... I don't understand it."

I know of at least four break-ins.

One happened to be my own home. The burglary occurred around 12:30 a.m. with all the lights on, cars parked out in front, and the residents awake. My son and I were in the family room watching TV.

At 1:07 a.m. the house phone rang. My son got up, went into the kitchen, and answered it. As soon as he did, the phone went dead. He checked the caller ID. It was his own cell phone! A phone that he had left on the kitchen table.

It was evident that someone had just broken into the house with us but a few feet away. They stole his phone, a laptop computer, and another piece of high tech equipment.

-- Mike Peterson, June 19, 2001


Once publisher, HarperCollins found out Michael Peterson had been indicted for the murder of his wife -- the book deal was promptly shelved.

Link to...            
MP Writes Durham's Wrongs        

"I'm married, very happily married with a dynamite wife."
-- Peterson's email soliciting a gay prostitute

"He had created an in-between world where his mind resided unreconciled with the world he denied, and the one denied him. He was caught in the mesh web of dual illusions and truths, lost in the ambiguities of the twin realities."

-- Excerpt from Peterson's "A Time of War"