Former biotech executive Hans Petersen was found guilty of two counts of attempted murder Wednesday in San Diego. One of his targets, the University of California, San Diego scientist Steve Dowdy, says it’s time to move on.
“[It’s the] end of a tragic story for us, but we’re not looking back anymore, only forward,” he wrote Thursday in an email to Xconomy.
On the morning of September 18, 2013, Petersen shot Dowdy and realtor Ronald Fletcher in their homes. Both men survived.
Petersen was connected to both his victims in different ways. He and Dowdy (pictured) once founded a biotech startup together. Fletcher is the brother of Petersen’s ex-wife. At the time of the shootings, she and Petersen were estranged and Fletcher was helping her divide the couple’s property, according to prosecutors.
Petersen shot into Dowdy’s bedroom, where he and his wife were sleeping. Dowdy says he was shot in the lower abdomen during the attack, which he recounted during the trial. Later, when Petersen moved on to his house, Fletcher was struck in the abdomen.
By the following June, Dowdy was “pretty much back to normal,” surfing and riding his bike, as he told Xconomy at the time. His wife was unharmed; because of that and of limited evidence that Petersen sought to hurt her, a third attempted murder charge against Petersen was dropped. Dowdy said the two-week trial that just ended was “especially brutal” for his wife.
Dowdy and Petersen helped start Traversa, a San Diego biotech that raised several million dollars in funding but ended up filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in 2012. Petersen was CEO and fired in 2010, according to Dowdy.
Last fall, Dowdy published a paper that described a potential breakthrough in the field of RNAi therapeutics, as I wrote about here. The work could help overcome biological barriers that have kept drug developers from delivering the therapeutics into a wide range of cell types. His work is licensed exclusively to San Diego startup Solstice Biologics, and CEO Lou Tartaglia said when he was hired last June that the company has built its own work on top of Dowdy’s foundation.
Petersen’s sentencing is scheduled for May 15, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. In his email, Dowdy wrote that he celebrated over wine with friends and family, and “we had our first really good sleep last night in a year and half to the day that he shot me.”