Judge order says Michael Peterson’s rights violated by SBI agent
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The conviction in 2003 of Durham novelist Michael Peterson was obtained with “materially misleading” and “deliberately false” testimony from a State Bureau of Investigation agent who was a crucial witness about blood evidence in the murder case that spawned TV movies, books and a film, according to a written order filed on Wednesday.
Saunders: Until a few weeks ago, you probably thought that I was the baddest Santa you'd ever seen. That was before Duane Deaver offered expert testimony during trials of convicted murderers.
Duane Deaver's work paved the path for Michael Peterson's new trial. His testimony also could force another look at the sentences of several other convicted murderers.
When Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson ordered a new trial for Durham author Michael Peterson, he uttered a phrase seldom used by a judge describing the conduct of an SBI agent on the witness stand: "perjured testimony."
Durham novelist Michael Peterson walked out of the Durham County Jail shortly after 6 p.m. today, joining his family for the first time after eight years in prison. Peterson spoke briefly after leaving the jail, saying he looks forward to proving his innocence in a "fair trial."
Michael Peterson's hearing for a new trial this month was not the first time his defense team had challenged the credentials of former State Bureau of Investigation agent Duane Deaver.
State Bureau of Investigation records of former agent Duane Deaver's cases show that Deaver had not done any work involving people hurt or killed in falls when he testified at the murder trial of Durham novelist Michael Peterson, according to testimony Tuesday.
The Michael Peterson hearing took on some trappings of a film festival Thursday, somehow appropriate for a criminal case that has spawned documentaries and a feature film.
gallery Peterson hearing | 12.08.11
To win a new trial, Durham novelist Michael Peterson and his lawyers are arguing that former SBI agent Duane Deaver tailored his expert witness testimony not to the facts or science of a case, but to what prosecutors wanted him to say.
A story and a photo caption on Wednesday about the Michael Peterson court hearing incorrectly spelled the name of SBI Assistant Director Erik Hooks.
Former SBI agent Duane Deaver showed a strong bias for the prosecution early in his career, according to SBI documents introduced in the Michael Peterson hearing today. Peterson, a Durham novelist convicted of the 2001 murder of his wife, has said he deserves a new trial because of Deaver's testimony.
Former SBI agent Duane Deaver misrepresented agency policy and exaggerated his training and experience under oath when he was certified as an expert witness in the Michael Peterson trial, according to SBI records and the SBI internal affairs director.
A story on Tuesday about Michael Peterson's return to Durham to seek a re-trial on his murder conviction inaccurately described two family members who were in the courtroom supporting him. Peterson raised Margaret and Martha Ratliff after their parents died. The story also should have said that Peterson had claimed two Purple Hearts from his military service in Vietnam, not three.
Agents' Secrets: Day One: SBI agents have cut corners, bullied the vulnerable and twisted reports and court testimony when the truth threatened to undermine their cases, our investigation of the SBI's work, policies and practices reveals.
gallery Inside the SBI lab
Agents' Secrets: Day Two: Attorney General Roy Cooper suspended the unit that handles bloodstain pattern analysis, which hid results and ran bizarre experiments.
gallery Inside the SBI lab