Michael Peterson – Bad Weird Science

As absurd as the “boating accident” theory in Jaws, the “Owl Theory” in the Michael Peterson murder trial just won’t die. It would not matter to me if the deceased was found clutching the bird itself, one look at the blood spatter evidence is enough to convince even the coroner of Amity that Kathleen Peterson was murdered:

‘Owl theory’ revived in Peterson filing
BY JOHN MCCANN : The Herald-Sun
Aug 4, 2009

DURHAM — Bird feathers that weren’t seen by the jury during Michael Peterson’s murder trial are among the new evidence that will support a claim that an owl attack led to the December 2001 death of his wife, Kathleen, and he either should have his life prison sentence for her murder dismissed or get another trial, according to a motion filed in Durham County Superior Court by attorney T. Lawrence Pollard. 

In the motion, Pollard not only said there is “new and compelling evidence” to bolster the case for Peterson’s innocence, but he also pointed his finger at the District Attorney’s office for ignoring potentially exonerating evidence. He contends his client’s former lawyers didn’t do a thorough job representing the novelist and former Herald-Sun columnist since they failed to explore the validity of the so-called owl theory. 

The owl theory isn’t new. Not long after Peterson was convicted of murder in October 2003, Pollard — the Petersons were his neighbors in Forest Hills off University Drive — put forth the notion that an owl attacked Kathleen Peterson. Once the bird struck, Kathleen Peterson ran inside her home and fell down a staircase, according to the theory. 

Kathleen Peterson was found dead at the bottom of those stairs. 

A earlier attempt by Pollard to get the district attorney’s office to reconsider Peterson’s case in light of the owl theory was unsuccessful. Pollard’s motion asserts the theory was rejected because owls supposedly don’t attack people. 

But Pollard in the motion cited a January 2008 owl attack in Apex to make the point that the birds are capable of initiating aggression. Pollard said wild owls were present near the Peterson’s home when Kathleen Peterson died, and the lawyer noted the discovery of feathers attached to the victim’s “hairs, that had been pulled out by the root ball, and found clutched in her left hand,” according to the motion. 

Cuts on Kathleen Peterson were consistent with the sort of puncture wounds an owl’s talons would inflict, according to the motion. 

Prosecutors contended during the 2003 trial that Peterson beat Kathleen Peterson with a fireplace poker. 

Peterson’s five-month trial was Durham’s longest and most expensive criminal proceeding. 

Earlier this year, Superior Court Judge Orlando F. Hudson rejected a bid for a new trial for Peterson on grounds that prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence about a tire iron found in the yard of one of the Petersons’ neighbors. The appeal theorized the tire iron could have been the murder weapon and that Kathleen Peterson had been beaten by an intruder. 


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