Durham, N.C., police officers were out to get Mike Peterson for newspaper columns he had written criticizing them harshly, defense attorney David Rudolf charged. In a celebrated case now on trial, Peterson is charged with killing his wife. He says she died from an accident.
The Raleigh News & Observer reports that with a newspaper column written by Peterson displayed on a screen behind him, Rudolf told the jury that police and prosecutors are at fault for their “tunnel vision.” The column in the Durham Herald-Sun took the police department to task for its failure to solve crimes and attempts to cover up its poor record.
Rudolf said Peterson wrote at least 20 to 30 columns in which he highlighted what Peterson called police incompetence. He cited a July 1999 e-mail message from then-Police Chief Teresa Chambers complaining of “damage” and “bruised egos and hurt feelings” caused by a Peterson column that claimed police solved only 5 percent of crimes.
In his opening statement, District Attorney Jim Hardin also referred to Peterson’s perception of the police, saying that with his 911 call on the morning of Kathleen’s death, “he gambles that the police are as dumb as he thinks they are.”