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The Staircase on Netflix: Did Michael Peterson kill his wife? | TV & Radio | Showbiz & TV

The Staircase on Netflix: Did Michael Peterson kill his wife? | TV & Radio | Showbiz & TV

Netflix released all 13 episodes of new documentary series The Staircase in one go in June 8.

The latest true crime series follows on from the likes of Making A Murderer and The Keepers, and focuses on the death of Kathleen Peterson in 2001.

A synopsis for the documentary series reads: “The Staircase is the compelling story of Michael Peterson, a crime novelist accused of killing his wife Kathleen after she is found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their home, and the 16 year judicial battle that followed.

“The brand new episodes of this true crime phenomenon will air alongside the original series. Produced by Matthieu Belghiti and produced and directed by Academy-award winner Jean-Xavier de Lestrade.”


The Staircase was originally a mini documentary series in 2004 which was made by French filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade shortly after the verdict in the original case was delivered.

Consisting of eight episodes, the original series wrapped up with Peterson’s conviction.

However, there was a retrial in 2010 and saw fresh evidence emerge in the Peterson case, leading Lestrade to release a sequel called The Staircase 2: The Last Chance in 2012.

In 2011 he was released on bail with a judicial order for a new trial on the basis of this new evidence.

Peterson’s bond restrictions were eventually eased in 2014.

Finally in 2017, Peterson entered into a plea bargain which saw him sentenced to time already served and freed.

Did Michael Peterson kill his wife?

The short answer is that we just don’t know. The only two people who know what happened that fateful night are Peterson and his deceased wife Kathleen.

Throughout the course of the documentary, it’s stated that no one can be sure whether he committed the crime or not.

There is also one theory that an owl attacked Kathleen and was the one responsible for her death.

According to Thomas Dew, a demonstrative evidence specialist, the owl theory isn’t impossible.

Speaking to documentarians, attorney and creator of the own theory T. Lawrence Pollard said: “Nobody thought of an owl at that time. Everybody just rushed to judgement and thought that this was a murder.”

Pollard said that the lacerations on Kathleen’s head looked similar to those made by a bird’s claws, while micro feathers were found in her hand along with her hair.

“She has 38 hairs in one hand and 25 in the other, all of the hairs were Mrs Peterson’s hairs. What they didn’t realise at that time was on her hairs were microscopic feathers.”

On top of that, the Petersons lived in an area where these type of owls were known to attack humans.

Again, this is just another theory with some compelling evidence attached to it and make the case seem even more complex.

The Staircase is available to watch on Netflix now

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