Petterson aquitted

Posted: Tuesday, August 10, 2004

A Kenai jury on Tuesday found Jamie Petterson not guilty of causing the deaths of an Anchorage couple in a 2002 fiery car crash on the Seward Highway.

Erwin "Jamie" Petterson Jr., 29, of Kenai, was charged with second-degree murder for allegedly watching an in-dash DVD movie as his pickup truck crossed the centerline and collided head-on with the couple's vehicle.

Robert Weiser, 60, and Donna Weiser, 56, were killed in the collision near Bertha Creek on Oct. 12, 2002.

To the expressed relief of two dozen friends and family members of Petterson, a jury of eight women and four men found him not guilty of the two murder counts as well as being not guilty of lesser charges of manslaughter and criminal negligent homicide.

The jury began deliberating its verdict just before 1 p.m. on Monday after hearing testimony of witnesses for more than two weeks.

The jurors broke at about 5 p.m. and resumed deliberations at 8:30 Tuesday morning. They met for one hour before agreeing Petterson was not guilty.

Superior Court Judge Charles Cranston formally entered a judgment of acquittal on all charges, exonerated Petterson's bail and released him from being required to be with a third-party custodian.

Petterson immediately turned and began hugging members of his family who had sat in the courtroom gallery observing the proceedings since jury selection began three weeks ago.

"I feel pretty relieved," Petterson said outside the courtroom.

He said he didn't get much sleep Monday night after the case was turned over to the jury.

On Tuesday, he had just gotten into the shower when a phone call came saying the jury had a verdict.

Jamie Petterson rode to the Kenai courthouse with his father, Jim Petterson, his third-party custodian.

"I'm just glad the truth came out," the younger Petterson said.

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