Prominent novelist Michael Peterson was convicted in 2003 of beating his wife to death with a fireplace poker, but he, assisted by a former neighbor, has maintained since then that she was killed by a rogue owl. In 2008, for the first time, North Carolina state investigators acknowledged that a microscopic feather was indeed found in her hair, and in December 2011, Durham County Judge Orlando Hudson granted Peterson a new trial. Although several owl experts have declared that the wife’s head trauma was consistent with an owl attack, the judge’s decision was based instead on a finding last year that the state crime lab had mishandled evidence in 34 cases and specifically that an investigator in the Peterson case had exaggerated his credentials to the jury. (Found in Chuck Shepherd’s excellent website,

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