The six-man, six-woman jury discussed the case for 45 minutes Tuesday after they heard closing arguments in San Diego Superior Court.
Petersen, 50, is accused of three counts of premeditated attempted murder of Steven Dowdy, 54, his wife, Lisa and Ronald Fletcher, 51, a real estate agent in Pacific Beach and La Jolla. He’s also accused of firing into an occupied dwelling and displaying a weapon in a threatening manner to Michael Nielsen, an emergency room physician on his way home at 5 a.m. on Sept. 18, 2013 in La Jolla.
Deputy District Attorney Amy Maund told jurors Petersen lied to them on the witness stand last week when he claimed he blacked out and could not recall any details about the shootings because of his medications and alcohol.
“He’s trying to excuse his conduct,” said Maund. “Voluntary intoxication is not a defense. There is no evidence the defendant was suffering a seizure. He was awake. He was aware of what he was doing. He is not unconscious, suffering from a seizure. He was intoxicated, but he felt empowered by Liquid Courage.”
Maund said Petersen’s blood/alcohol level at the time of his arrest was .18, twice the level for drunk driving. “He was awake, alert and goal oriented,” she added.
Marc Carlos, Petersen’s attorney, showed jurors a chart that listed all the side effects of seven drugs that Petersen was taking at the time, with the heading “The Perfect Storm.” Carlos told jurors to recall hearing TV commercials about prescription drugs that contain warnings about side effects such as memory loss, delusions or confusion.
Carlos argued that Petersen had a history of brain seizures stemming from a 1987 skydiving accident and that a combination of all those drugs and alcohol could produce an “altered state of reality.
“He was unconscious of his actions,” Carlos said. “People in blackouts do that. It’s going to affect everybody in a different way. He’s not acting rationally. He wasn’t normal.”
Carlos conceded that Petersen shot both men, but he told the jury they were needed “to determine what was in Mr. Petersen’s mind.” He listed Petersen’s accomplishments, which included two CEO positions. “He’s never been arrested before,” he said.
Carlos urged jurors to see the silent video captured on Fletcher’s home security system that showed the struggle for the gun after Fletcher was shot in the stomach. He said Petersen was seen ranting and lecturing Fletcher with his index finger up and down 48 times.
The defense attorney also urged the jurors to “come to a decision you can live with” and said there was reasonable doubt shown about Petersen’s intentions.
In a brief rebuttal, the prosecutor said she counted 35 goal-oriented actions that Petersen performed during those shootings, such as driving eight miles, yelling, kicking in a door and smashing Fletcher’s cell phone.
“He had the liquid courage,” Maund said, “to get revenge on the people who hurt him. It was unreasonable what (the defense) presented to you.
“Please do your job.”
Judge Leo Valentine Jr. instructed jurors earlier in the day.
Petersen, who has come to court in a suit every day in the three-week trial, remains in jail on $5 million bail. If convicted, he faces three life terms plus 60 years in prison.
-- Neal Putnam