High Court Hears Peterson Appeal

The North Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments today in the appeal of Michael Peterson, a novelist and former mayoral candidate in Durham convicted of killing his wife in 2001.

The 63-year-old Peterson was sentenced to life in prison for the death of Kathleen Peterson at their home in Durham. Medical examiners said she was beaten.

Peterson and his attorneys say she died in an accidental fall.

A state Court of Appeals panel upheld the conviction last year, but the vote was 2-1. That allowed the case to be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Defense lawyers say the original trial judge improperly allowed the jury to hear about the 1985 death in Germany of family friend Elizabeth Ratliff. Prosecutors say both women were found dead at
the bottom of steps with blows to their heads.