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Hudson, the judge at the 2003 trial, openly questioned whether Cline’s office could still win a conviction.

“You’ve got no witnesses,” he said. “You’ve got no confession.”

“I don’t think a circumstantial case is a bad case,” she said.

Peterson enlisted in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. His novels include the 1990 “A Time of War,” an in-the-trenches look at the war, and a 1995 sequel, “A Bitter Peace.” Peterson was also a regular columnist for the Durham Herald-Sun and mounted an unsuccessful campaign to be the city’s mayor.

Once released, Peterson will have to wear electronic monitoring while awaiting his new trial. He will live at a friend’s home in Durham.

Clayton Peterson, one of Peterson’s sons, said his family is looking forward to a second trial. He offered up his house to help secure his father’s bond.

“We are confident he will be found innocent,” Clayton Peterson said.

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Follow AP writer Michael Biesecker at twitter.com/mbieseck