Petersen, 51, of University City, was sentenced to two consecutive life terms plus two consecutive terms of 25 years to life for the personal use of a firearm in the Sept. 18, 2013 shootings of Dowdy and real estate agent Ron Fletcher in their La Jolla homes.
Petersen’s attorney, Marc Carlos, asked San Diego Superior Court Judge Leo Valentine Jr. to impose one sentence for both shootings and not give consecutive terms. Carlos said Petersen would likely die in prison if he received consecutive terms.
Valentine said he could not impose just one term, noting the jury convicted Petersen March 11 of two counts of premeditated attempted murder with the personal use of a gun in a crime.
“He will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison,” said Deputy District Attorney Amy Maund after she argued for consecutive terms.
The state legislature has determined that people serving life sentences can be eligible for parole after they serve seven years. If Petersen serves 14 years, he would then start serving the first 25 years to life term. After that has been served, he would then serve the last consecutive sentence of 25 years to life.
Petersen was also ordered to pay $13,751 in miscellaneous costs. Dowdy has submitted a claim for $85,881, and a restitution hearing will be held May 21 as to whether Petersen will be ordered to pay that.
Petersen was also given credit for 695 days spent in jail and fined $10,403.
Dowdy, who referred to Petersen as “a maniac,” told the judge he physically changed the appearance of his house as a result of Petersen’s having fired a gun into his bedroom, during which Dowdy was shot in the torso. There are now large fences with a dozen video security cameras on his property..
“This is no way for anyone to live their life,” said Dowdy, a UCSD professor and former neighbor to Petersen. Dowdy once hired Petersen to run a bio-tech company until he was fired in 2010.
“The bullet that went through one side of me and out the other changed my body forever,” said Dowdy, “leaving large scars and constant pain. I will never be able to go back to who I was before the shooting, not ever.”
Fletcher, a real estate agent in Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla, was in the courtroom audience but said nothing. He was shot in the stomach, and his living room security camera caught footage of him fighting with Petersen. The footage was played during Petersen’s three-week trial.
Fletcher’s sister was married to Petersen, but the marriage ended in divorce, and Petersen blamed Fletcher for influencing his ex-wife into selling some property the couple owned.
Petersen blamed his actions on a prescription anti-seizure medication he took. He said the drug ruined his life and that he was in a drug and alcoholic blackout during most of the two shootings.
“I’d like the victims to know how deeply sorry I am for what I did,” said Petersen before reading a statement about the prescription drug and how it should be banned.
Petersen said the whole event “felt like a dream to me.” He said the drug made him develop paranoia and caused him to lose his job in 2010. He also said he has developed auditory hallucinations, adding, “I’m still hearing things.”
His defense claimed that he was unconscious and also intoxicated during the shootings. Petersen testified he only remembered being hit over the head with his own gun by Fletcher and being arrested and bleeding on the floor.
“The jury didn’t accept (Petersen’s claim of unconsciousness), and it’s difficult for the court to accept,” said Valentine. “We cannot rehabilitate unconscious behavior.”
He told Carlos that Petersen would be eligible for parole at age 80 if he did impose one concurrent term for both shootings. He added that he could not do that.