Family gets justice for murder, 34 year later

Family gets justice for murder, 34 year later »Play Video
SHORELINE, Wash. -- Diana Peterson's family doubted they'd ever see this day.

More than 30 years have passed since the woman was murdered. The crime, the family thought, would never be solved, and justice never served.

But on Friday, the Petersons watched as Diana Peterson's killer faced his fate.

On Valentine's Day 1975, Jim Groth stabbed his childhood friend. Her mother heard screams, which haven't stopped ringing in her ears since.

"I still hear," said Leann Peterson.

Diana Peterson's father found his 16 year old's body in their Richmond Beach yard, a hunting knife plunged in her back. At that moment, George Peterson felt a stabbing pain inside himself.

'"There is a scar on my heart for the loss of my daughter," he said. "Thirty four years doesn't heal."

"Last Sunday was her 51st birthday, still a hard day," said Leann Peterson.
Groth nearly got away with the murder even though he failed a polygraph test shortly after the crime. And the case sat, growing cold and unsolved, over the years.

But dogged detectives newly assigned to case caught a break two years ago when they reexamined old evidence.

Despite his conviction, Groth still maintains his innocence.

Jurors who found him guilty of second-degree murder were present alongside Diana Peterson's parents and family members.

"I hope he spends the rest of his life remembering my sister every day, every minute," said Sue Nordmark, the victim's sister.

"I think, 'How terrified she must have been as Diana struggled for her life taken by some she trusted and befriended,"' said
Marilyn Richter, another sister.

On Friday, justice finally came.

"The maximum sentence will be life. The minimum sentence will be 200 months," said the judge.

Groth, who has already spent time for assaulting his girlfriend, will likely spend about 10 years in prison for Peterson's murder.

"I thought for sure we were never going to see this happen," said Leann Peterson.

Some members of the Peterson family are ready to forgive Groth.

"Because if I can't forgive him, I carry that pain, that guilt that hurt," said George Peterson.

Groth's attorney plans to appeal his sentence.

Peterson's parents said they'd planned to write a letter of apology to their daughter's old boyfriend, Tim. For 30 years they were convinced he was the killer.

But he'll never read that apology. He died last month of cancer.