The trial before San Diego Superior Court Judge Leo Valentine Jr. will resume Monday, March 17, with the prosecution presenting rebuttal witnesses.
Petersen, 50, is charged with two counts of premeditated attempted murder in the Sept. 18, 2013, shootings of Steven Dowdy, 54, a UCSD professor, and Ronald Fletcher, 51, a La Jolla real estate agent whose sister is Petersen’s ex-wife.
Petersen, a former next-door neighbor of Dowdy, is also accused of trying to murder Dowdy's wife Lisa, who was not injured but was sleeping next to her husband when bullets were fired through glass doors at 3 a.m. Steven Dowdy was shot in the torso.
Petersen is also accused of displaying a weapon in a threatening manner to Michael Nielsen, an emergency room physician who was driving home at 5 a.m. when a man pointed a gun at him on Ravenswood Road in La Jolla.
Rebuttal witnesses are scheduled early next week, and closing arguments may be presented Tuesday, March 17, in the trial’s third week. The six-man, six-woman jury could start deliberations March 17.
Petersen maintains his mind is blank due to use of prescription drugs designed to stop brain seizures as well as insomnia medications, tranquilizers, anti-depressants and other drugs.
“This body did this; this mind never could,” said Petersen several times.
Petersen said one anti-seizure drug changed his personality years ago, saying, “I wasn’t fun to be around.” He also said he used alcohol “to fall asleep.”
Deputy District Attorney Amy Maund asked him to show how one would drive to the homes of Dowdy and Fletcher from University City. Petersen described many streets and ways to get there, but he continued to say he had no memory of driving to both victims’ homes.
His BMW was found parked on La Jolla Rancho Road, not far from where Nielsen said he saw Petersen draw a gun on him. A police officer found more bullets in a box under a car seat.
Petersen denied any intention to hurt Dowdy, who had hired him to be CEO of a biotech firm, which fired him in 2010. “I wanted to sue him, but I didn’t want to hurt him,” said Petersen.
Petersen also played cell phone video portions he recorded in a visit to Fletcher’s office to file legal paperwork with him. Fletcher testified Petersen appeared hostile and threatening in that visit, but the video portions played did not show Petersen making any threats.
“I’ve been in jail 18 months, waiting for trial,” said Petersen to the jury. He wears a suit every day in court.
He has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail on $5 million bail.
– Neal Putnam