French prosecutors meet with Cornbleet family

January 15, 2008 10:14:43 AM PST
The family of a slain Chicago doctor met with French prosecutors on Monday. The French prosecutors are in the United States to study evidence against Hans Peterson, who turned himself into French authorities in the 2006 murder of Doctor David Cornbleet, who was killed in Michigan Avenue office.

Peterson is being held in the French-controlled island of Guadeloupe. Despite pressure from the Cornbleet family and U.S. politicians, the French will not extradite Peterson to the U.S. They plan to prosecute him on the Guadeloupe because he has dual U.S. and French citizenship.

The meeting with the Cornbleet family, who is holding out hope that the French will change their mind and let Peterson face U.S. prosecution, was emotional.

"We do not want the trial to be in France. It's a huge inconvenience to my family, basically put our life on hold for a month, who knows how long, so that Hans Peterson can get a lighter sentence. We don't think that's fair," said John Cornbleet, victim's son.

Peterson confessed to stabbing the dermatologist to death inside Cornbleet's office. Last summer, he turned himself into authorities on Caribbean island. He is considered a French citizen because his mother is French, which means the trial will take place under French law.

"I don't see him being extradited because the French constitution has the clear prohibition of extradition of nationals unless his citizenship is questioned or revoked," said Cherif Bassiouni, DePaul University.

The French team will review the evidence gathered by Chicago police officers and then determine the charges against Peterson- murder or the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Peterson, who was a one-time client of Cornbleet's, told French authorities a prescription for the acne medication Acutance left him depressed and sexually dysfunctional.

"?The mental, psychological condition of a person is what distinguishes murder and voluntary manslaughter," said Bassiouni.

"My assumption is that he is going to try to plead insanity. I think that basically even saying that he is doing this to avoid U.S. justice is a pretty clear indication that he knew exactly what he was doing," said John Cornbleet.

The French prosecution team will be in town for most of the week putting together the case.

Peterson may not go to trial for another year.