Attorney General Roy Cooper, in tandem with the media, continues its commitment to protect its prosecutors who abide by the North Carolina justice system tenet of “selective justice based on Class and Color.” In a Saturday, February 28, 2009 News & Observer article titled, “Cooper urges no new trial for Peterson,” staff writer Anne Blythe makes an attempt to explain the state’s flimsy reasoning for objecting to a new trial for novelist Michael Peterson, who was convicted for the 2001 killing of his wife.
Peterson’s attorneys are appealing the conviction and requesting a new trial based allegedly on the fact that prosecutors Jim Hardin and Freda Black withheld valuable exculpatory evidence from the defense attorneys. According to their motion, a citizen contacted investigators and reported finding a tire iron near the scene of the crime shortly after its commission. The prosecutors, whose theory of the murder is that the victim succumbed because of head trauma with a fireplace poker, retrieved the tire iron and conducted forensics tests on it. They, however, did not notify the defense team of its existence, nor divulge to them the test results of their examinations on it. This is a point that was not disputed by Attorney General Cooper in Ms. Blythe’s article.
From our perspective (Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong), withholding from the defense team the existence of a tire iron, when a fireplace poker is considered to be the murder weapon, is far more egregious than withholding the existence of extraneous unidentified male DNA that had no relevance and no value for defendants in the Duke Lacrosse case. Yet, it is Duke Lacrosse prosecutor Mike Nifong who Attorney General Cooper persecutes and prosecutes, while going above and beyond the call of duty in protecting prosecutors Hardin and Black who obtained a life sentence conviction based on courtroom cheating and chicanery.
Cooper’s involvement in this case is not surprising, for it is his modus operandi. Consider the state’s case against Theodore Jerry Williams which was thrown out of court by the trial judge because prosecutors admitted that they had destroyed material exculpatory evidence against a defendant after he had requested it for his defense. Attorney General Cooper appealed this ruling, in an attempt to pursue charges, which he knew were trumped up, against a defendant who, in addition, was viciously assaulted by sheriff deputies.
Right in lockstep with the Attorney General’s Office, N & O staff writer Blythe did not mention the names of the prosecutors (Jim Hardin and Freda Black) responsible for withholding the evidence from Peterson defense attorneys, but she did, through some circuitously convoluted means, manage to gratuitously mention the name of Mike Nifong, who had absolutely nothing to do with the state’s case against Peterson. And although Ms. Blythe mentioned that Mr. Nifong had been disbarred, she, again, refused to mention that he is the only prosecutor to be disbarred by the North Carolina State Bar since its inception. The media has consistently used Mr. Nifong as its sacrificial lamb when there is any question of wrongdoing, misconduct, or impropriety by a North Carolina state prosecutor(s).
Because of the magnitude of the prosecution’s misdeeds in winning a conviction in the Peterson case, and the irreparable damage caused by withholding the tire iron evidence from defense attorneys, the murder charge against Mr. Peterson should be dismissed, the conviction struck from his record, and he should be freed from custody. That is what Lady Justice would demand. At the minimum, Mike Peterson should be afforded a new trial.
The media is doing a grave disservice to its subscribers, the public, and justice itself when its biased coverage is used as a means of spinning public opinion in a view that is favorable to the Attorney General’s Office and the state. For an objective, fair, and balanced look at justice within the state, I recommend that you visit the home page of the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong’s web site: www.justice4nifong.com.