Internationally recognized author Michael Peterson was found guilty in 2003 of killing his wife Kathleen Peterson a Vice President at Nortell Networks. According to the prosecution theory of the case he pushed her down the stairs.
This scenario is erily similar to the death of Elizabeth Ratliff, Peterson's neighbor and friend in Germany several years earlier.
After Ratliff died Peterson adopted her two children. Police ruled Ratliff's death an accident.
There is no question both women fell down the stairs. While Peterson didn't have any motive to off Ratliff, he had plenty of motive to kill Kathleen.
Kathleen was on the verge of being layed off at Nortell and the Peterson's needed money big time. Michael Peterson didnt have a regular job and writing books wasnt enough to fulfill his lifestyle.
The prosecution put on a number of experts but most of their case hinged on two North Carolina forensic pathologists: Deborah Radisch and John Butts. Their testimony that Kathleen Peterson and Elizabeth Ratliff were murdered was what made the prosecution's case. The defense by contrast hitched their wagons to an internationally known Neuro-Pathologist Jan Leestma. Leestma's testimony turned around the case against nanny and accused killer Louise Woodward.
This former Armed Forces Institute of Pathology expert is no lightweight. Radisch and Butts are not Neuro-Pathologists and the one Neuro-Pathologist that did testify for the prosecution wasn't even board certified let alone famous.
Forensic Pathologists are a dime a dozen. The same cant be said about Neuro-Pathologists. For a lay person I know my medical trivia.
I keep up with medical trivia partly because my dad made a huge contribution to neural regulation of the immune system.
I believe Michael Peterson probably killed his wife but not beyond a reasonable doubt and in our criminal justice system, thats the burden of proof.
This case hinged on Neuro-Pathology. This was not a case filled with lots of traditional Pathology. There was head trauma and only a Neuro-Pathologist, preferably with impressive credentials to go up against an internationally known defense expert, could convince me beyond a reasonable doubt.