By Kevin Guilfoile
On October 24, 2006, Hans Peterson drove a rented car from New York to Chicago and walked into the Michigan Avenue office of dermatologist David Cornbleet. His intention was to torture the 64-year-old physician with a knife and blowtorch.
Torturing and murdering someone, even someone more than twice your age, turns out to be more difficult than it seems. Dr. Cornbleet fought back. Peterson eventually overpowered him, however, stabbing him more than twenty times until he was dead.
We followed the Cornbleet case extensively here at The Outfit, even publishing the first photo of Peterson after his arrest, and uncovering Peterson's ominous postings on an Accutane web site. But there hasn't been much news on that front in quite a while. Peterson fled to the island of St. Martin where he was eventually arrested by French authorities. He has been sitting in a jail in Guadalupe for four years.
Today he finally goes on trial for "murder and acts of torture and barbarism." (Even though this was once a high-profile case with primetime network coverage and an appeal for extradition from then Senator Barack Obama, I can find no coverage of this at all in the English-language media. Many thanks to the pen pal who alerted me to the news.)
It appears the case will be a war of experts, with the defense attempting to mitigate Peterson's guilt by claiming that the Accutane prescription Dr. Cornbleet had written for Peterson's acne several years before the murder caused significant and irreversible damage to Peterson's brain.
French justice is slow to arrive, but swiftly delivered, apparently. A verdict is expected by the weekend.
We'll post it when we hear it.
UPDATE: Here is a very brief summary of the first day of testimony.
UPDATE 2: Summary of Tuesday's testimony.