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Artist cleared of all weapons charges in G20 case

Byron Sonne and Kristen Peterson were both in court again Wednesday - their legal fates pulling the husband and wife once again in opposite directions.

Ms. Peterson, a visual artist known for playing with perspective and perceptions of space, saw all her charges dropped. She and her husband both were charged with collecting the materials used to make triacetone triperoxide - the potent explosive made notorious for its use in terrorist attacks - and possession of dangerous weapons. Mr. Sonne was also charged with mischief and two rare charges of intimidating members of the justice system.

Ms. Peterson and her parents were "thrilled" at the news she can return to normalcy, said lawyer Brian Heller.

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Meanwhile, Mr. Sonne, a computer expert whose ties run deep in Toronto's hacker community, had his first day of preliminary hearing after spending months in police custody.

Both were arrested within days of each other at their million-dollar Forest Hill home in June, and accused of planning what was to be an ambitious attack in connection with the G20 summit.

As Ms. Peterson went free, with Crown attorneys saying there's no reasonable prospect of conviction, legal teams were arguing both sides of Mr. Sonne's case. The preliminary hearing is under a publication ban.

Mr. Sonne sat listening attentively, wearing a red fleece with black pockets, dark blue jeans and black sneakers. He became emotional as some of the evidence was presented, furiously blinking and then wiping away tears with a tissue he later balled up and lobbed into a garbage can.

He was led out of court with hands cuffed behind him, murmuring "bye" to his mother as he waited for the elevator in Old City Hall.

"It's very emotional. We're seeing a human being at the lowest point in his life. And he's lost a lot," said his lawyer Joseph Di Luca. "Mr. Sonne is very anxious to get the proceedings under way. … He's very anxious to clear his name, and today is the first step towards that."

Ms. Peterson, meanwhile is "getting back to a normal life. And enjoying doing so," Mr. Heller said.

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Ms. Peterson has studied and taught at the Toronto School of Art and the University of Toronto's visual arts program, where she earned a master's degree and taught an advanced tutorial, according to her résumé; her work has appeared at the Stantec Window Gallery, the Convenience Gallery and the city's Spadina Museum, where she was an artist in residence in 2006.

One of her bail conditions after she was released from police custody was not to contact Mr. Sonne except for purposes of legal counsel; neither her lawyer nor Mr. Sonne's would comment on whether the two are in touch now.

Mr. Heller said he believes Ms. Peterson was charged by cautious police who associated her with suspicions connected to her husband.

"They've got to act prudently, and we don't have a quarrel with what occurred at the outset," he said. "We were always confident that once they listened to our submission and looked very closely at their case we would arrive at the outcome we did today."

Mr. Sonne's friend, Madison Kelly, a fellow HackLab TO member who has been attending his hearings since the summer, said the news of charges against Ms. Peterson being dropped "has got to be a major weight off his shoulders."

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