Petersen, 50, of University City, showed no reaction as the guilty verdicts to all but one charge were read in San Diego Superior Court. He was convicted of shooting Steven Dowdy, 54, a former neighbor, and Ronald Fletcher, 51, his ex-brother-in-law.
The six-man, six-woman jury acquitted Petersen of attempted murder of Lisa Dowdy, who was not shot but was in bed with her husband at 3 a.m. on Sept. 18, 2013, when Petersen fired multiple rounds through their glass doors.
Judge Leo Valentine Jr. set sentencing for May 15. Petersen has been held in jail in lieu of $3 million bail, but Valentine ordered him held without bail following the verdict.
Petersen faces two life terms that include parole, but he could get two consecutive sentences of 25 years to life for personally discharging a handgun during a violent crime. The jury determined Petersen caused great bodily injury, and he could get six additional years for that charge.
“This will be the first night we’ve slept in a year and a half,” said Steven Dowdy afterward about the verdict.
The Dowdys said they were not concerned about the acquittal of attempted murder for Lisa, as Petersen would likely be sentenced to prison for the rest of his life.
“He’s already taken so much time from us. It’s been a year and a half of hell for us,” said Steven Dowdy. “It was his choices, his doing… all the negative impact he’s had on so many people.”
“We’re very grateful to the jury, who saw the truth,” said Lisa Dowdy.
Fletcher was present to hear the verdict, but he declined comment afterwards. Fletcher is a real estate agent in Pacific Beach and La Jolla and was shot in the stomach after Petersen broke into his Cottontail Lane home at 6:30 a.m.
“The jury has spoken. They didn’t buy his story,” said Deputy District Attorney Amy Maund. “We are pleased, and we believe we proved our case. The jury did not excuse his conduct.”
Petersen testified he could not recall any of that night’s events up until Fletcher struck him in the head with his own gun and he was arrested. “This body did this,” he told the jurors; “this mind never could.”
Petersen’s attorney, Marc Carlos, had argued that Petersen was in a mental blackout due to drinking alcohol and taking prescription medications that included anti-seizure drugs and tranquilizers. Petersen’s blood/alcohol level was .18, twice the level for drunk driving.
“We presented a mental defense; we thought it was the best defense. We believe the medications affected him,” said Carlos afterwards.
Petersen was also convicted of exhibiting a firearm in a threatening manner to Michael Nielsen, an emergency room physician who was driving home from work at 5 a.m. on Ravenswood Road in La Jolla when he saw a shadowy figure hide behind trees. Nielsen identified Petersen as having pointed a gun at him before Nielsen then quickly drove off.
Petersen could get several years for that incident.
He was also convicted of firing into an occupied dwelling and burglarizing Fletcher’s home, but those charges will not likely add any more to the sentence.
Jurors left the courthouse without comment. Testimony began March 4 after several days of jury selection in the three-week trial.