Peterson’s Fight For Freedom May Turn On Questionable Expert

A blood analyst who worked for the State Bureau of Investigation when Mike Peterson was brought to trial on murder charges in 2001 may be the key to Peterson’s request for a new, fair trial. Peterson was convicted of the murder in 2003, but his conviction was set aside in 2011 because of false testimony offered by a witness for the state.

The state appealed the grant of a new trial, claiming that the expert’s questionable credibility and testimony did not play a major factor in the jury voting to convict Peterson. The expert, Duane Deaver, had testified that the pattern of blood smatter in the Peterson’s staircase indicated that the wife had been pushed down the stairs, rather than fallen, as Peterson asserted.

According to Peterson’s defense attorney, Deaver’s testimony accounted for more than half of the verbal testimony presented at trial. The defense also asserts that Deaver overstated his own qualifications as an expert blood analyst and the scientific nature of his tests, improperly swaying the jury to trust his conclusions.

Deaver was fired for questionable lab practices two years ago.

Peterson spent eight years in prison after being convicted of killing his wife. He has been out of prison on house arrest for the past 16 months, awaiting a new trial. The Court of Appeals isn’t expected to decide the State’s appeal of the grant of a new trial until sometime this summer.

Source: WRAL, “Discredited SBI agent at crux of Peterson appeal,” 4/24/2013