On the morning of January 28, 1998, Carolyn Peak called the Tucson, Arizona police to report she had found her husband, Wyatt Earp Peak, dead in their bed with a single gunshot wound to the head. The pistol kept in the nightstand next to their bed fired the fatal shot.
At first, Peak, 39, told police that she got up, took their daughter to a bus stop, then returned home and only then did she discover that her husband was dead.
After an autopsy report indicated that he had been dead for several hours by the time she reported him dead, Peak told police that though she slept in the same bed with her husband, she never heard a gunshot. Their son later told police that he heard a gunshot during the night, but that his mother told him to go back to bed.
On March 26, 1999, Peak was indicted for her husband’s murder. She went on trial in Pima County Superior Court in April 2000. There was some evidence that the death was a suicide and there was some evidence that the couple’s daughter might have been the killer. No physical or direct evidence existed showing that Peak killed her husband. The state had evidence that Peak received more than $100,000 in insurance benefits due to her husband’s death.
On April 17, 2000, a jury convicted Peak of second-degree murder.
Prior to sentencing, Peak’s attorneys filed a motion for a new trial, contending that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury verdict. On July 10, 2000, the motion was granted.
The prosecution appealed and the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld the order in November 2002.
At the time, the original prosecutor, David White, was ill with cancer, so the case was re-assigned to Pima County deputy county attorneys Teresa Godoy and Baird Greene.
In January, 2003, White died of pancreatic cancer.
On June 25, 2003, Godoy and Greene disclosed that they had found more than 30 witness interviews, more than two dozen investigative reports as well as records of subpoenas issued by White that had never been turned over to the defense. Some of the documents contained exculpatory information, they reported.
On September 12, 2003, at the request of the prosecution, Superior Court Judge Virginia Kelly dismissed the charge of second-degree murder.
– Maurice Possley