Ogden man seeks second innocence trial in Utah

May 10 2011 - 12:04am



OGDEN -- The state's second innocence trial seeking to exonerate an inmate may be held in Ogden.

Last month, trial was set for two days in September on a Factual Innocence lawsuit filed by Kevin Peterson, 53, of Ogden. Peterson seeks to clear his name under the same statute by which Debra Brown was released from prison Monday.

Ogden 2nd District Judge Mike DiReda ruled Brown innocent of a 1993 slaying, citing new evidence in the case. Brown spent more than 15 years in prison.

Peterson, formerly of West Haven, was sent to prison in early 1993 on second-degree felony child sexual abuse charges alleging sexual contact short of rape. He moved back to the Ogden area when he was released from prison in November 2007.

The suit includes sworn affidavits from Peterson's two children, who say they were coerced by their mother and stepfather to tell authorities their father sexually molested them. The son and daughter were 11 and 9 at the time.

Peterson's case will be heard by 2nd District Judge Scott Hadley, who in August 2009 denied a motion from the Utah Attorney General's Office seeking to dismiss the case.

Peterson pleaded no contest to the second-degree felony charges in 1993, meaning he denied guilt but couldn't defeat the state's evidence in the form of his children's testimony.

Sentencing is treated the same as if he did plead guilty, the no-contest setting simply an acknowledgment for his case file.

His refusal to admit his guilt to the state Board of Pardons, said the late Gary Gale, Peterson's attorney at the time the suit was filed, ensured he would do the entire 15 years of his one-to-15-year sentence.

The whereabouts of the ex-wife and stepfather are unknown, and any prosecution of them would have statute-of-limitation problems.

Keith Henderson, of Ogden, is Peterson's current attorney. Peterson's suit, filed by Gale in November 2008, was believed to be the first in the state filed under the Factual Innocence statute, enacted that same year.

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