Seth Gordon Peterson appeared in Seventh District Court this week to face charges of two first degree felonies of aggravated murder, a first degree felony of attempted aggravated murder, first degree aggravated robbery and a third degree felony of failure to stop or respond at the command of police.
After a three-day trial, a verdict was finally reached. The jury found Peterson guilty of a lesser charge of manslaughter on count one against his mother, Susan Peterson, and guilty of aggravated murder on count two against his brother, James Peterson. They also found Peterson guilty of count three, attempted aggravated murder, guilty of count four, aggravated robbery and guilty of count five, failure to stop or respond at the command of police.
On Nov. 2, 2016, dispatch received an emergency call stating that someone had just witnessed the defendant shoot an individual and possibly a second victim in Hiawatha. After officers responded to the call, Peterson was taken into custody and charged for allegedly murdering his mother, Susan, and brother, James. These charges were filed as first degree felonies. The defendant was also charged with attempted aggravated assault and aggravated robbery, both first degree felonies, and failure to stop or respond at the command of police, a third degree felony.
Just over a year since the murders occurred, Peterson found himself in front of eight jurors and Seventh District Court Judge George Harmond. The defendant was represented by Rudy Bautista and Stephen Howard while prosecution was represented by Jeremiah Humes and Sean Brian.
Multiple witnesses testified, including law enforcement officials, the Utah State Medical Examiner and family members of the defendant. Testimonies from witnesses were nearly identical to those that testified in Peterson’s preliminary hearing in April.
On the third day of the trial, a motion was presented by the defense to drop the two first degree murder charges to manslaughter. Upon review, Judge Harmond denied the motion stating that the jury would be able to make that determination on their own.
The verdict was finally reached once the jury had deliberated for approximately three hours on the final day of trial. The jury found Peterson guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter of the first count of aggravated murder against his mother and guilty on the second count of aggravated murder against his brother. A guilty verdict was also reached for the counts of attempted aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and failure to stop or respond at the command of police.
Peterson will be sentenced on Feb. 7 at 10 a.m. due to the defense requesting a pre-sentence review.