At just over 5 feet tall and barely 100 pounds, Allison Peterson doesn't look anything like the terrorist her ex-husband says she is.
But it is terror, he says, that envelops his life because of what she did more than three years ago.On April 15, 1992, Leon Peterson went down the stairs of his Cottonwood Heights home with a gun in his hands. He'd heard his doorbell and someone softly knocking on his door at 12:09 a.m. and was on his way to investigate. His 22-month-old daughter stood at the top of the stairs.
He opened the door and three men forced their way inside, at least one of them swinging at him with a baseball bat. Peterson fired several shots with a pistol he had grabbed, killing 16-year-old Jeremiah Jason Dorman.
It would be discovered at trial that Allison Peterson had recruited the young men to break into her then-estranged husband's home to beat or kill him. She only had visitation rights to their daughter and had also hoped to get custody.
At trial she denied involvement. At her parole hearing Tuesday morning, she admitted what she'd done and apologized.
"By that point, custody wasn't the issue," Allison Peterson said, "it was wanting him to feel the pain and humilation that I did."
Peterson told Board of Pardons member Pete Haun that she felt desperate and angry after going through a frustrating and brutal divorce for more than a year.
"Because of my inability to ask for help . . . because of my anger, or mistrust, or pride . . . there is a mother whose only child was killed," she said. "There are more victims than my ex-husband and my daughter."
She said she bears no animosity toward the Peterson family and added that she'd even given up her parental rights. But Leon Peterson said his family is still afraid of Allison Peterson and the evil they're sure she's still capable of.
"I think Allison will never stop trying to kill me until she's successful," an emotional Leon Peterson said. "Allison didn't just go out and commit this crime, she schemed, she executed it."
"I think Allison is a terrorist, pure and simple . . . and she could have killed or hurt innocent bystanders, just as a terrorist does."
Leon Peterson said he lives in constant fear of Allison's release and spends time each night quiet-ing the fears of his young daughter, who has been in counseling for years now.
"My daughter watched me kill a man," Leon Peterson said. "Her daughter sill has great difficulty approaching women."
Peterson said he's also afraid to approach or get involved with women.
Haun said he wouldn't make a decision until he could discuss the case with the other four board members. He praised Allison Peterson's accomplishments in prison and called her a "model inmate."
However, Haun also told the petite woman not to anticipate a parole date anytime soon. She is serving a sentence of five years to life.
"In the final analysis I don't see any justification for your behavior," Haun said. "I believe you're doing the right kinds of things. You can overcome the problems that brought you here. I would hope you're strong enough to do that."
But Leon Peterson's feelings are clear. He never wants his ex-wife released from prison.
"Please do not release Allison," Leon Peterson said. "My daughter's life and my own depend on it."