Picture Supply: Netflix
Seventeen years after the discharge of Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s docuseries The Staircase, the story of Kathleen Peterson’s demise is being became present. On March 31, Selection reported HBO Max’s plans to adapt the case for an eight-part restricted drama, additionally titled The Staircase. The recent casting news of Sophie Turner as Kathleen and Michael Peterson’s adopted daughter Margaret Ratliff has individuals already buzzing concerning the present’s solid. Becoming a member of Turner is Colin Firth as novelist Michael, Toni Collette as Kathleen, Rosemarie DeWitt as Kathleen’s sister Candace Zamperini, Parker Posey as prosecutor Freda Black, and Juliette Binoche in an undisclosed position.
The collection is ready to discover the lifetime of the Peterson household in North Carolina, the circumstances surrounding Kathleen’s suspicious demise, and Michael’s involvement. Whereas it is unclear simply how a lot the notorious case the HBO Max present will cowl, it comes from Christine director Antonio Campos and American Crime Story author Maggie Cohn, so we now have excessive expectations. Earlier than The Staircase drops on HBO Max, probably in 2022, this is what you must know concerning the unusual true story behind Kathleen’s homicide.
The Loss of life of Kathleen
On Dec. 9, 2001, Michael known as 911 after supposedly discovering Kathleen mendacity in a pool of blood on the backside of a staircase of their dwelling. Whereas on the cellphone, he advised dispatchers that she was unconscious however nonetheless alive. Nevertheless, by the point paramedics arrived, Kathleen was useless. He additionally advised paramedics that Kathleen had been consuming that night time, however consultants discovered her blood alcohol content material to be beneath the authorized driving restrict. Scientists additionally examined her physique on the scene and located her accidents in step with a demise by murder. These accidents included seven deep lacerations on her head, scrapes and bruises on her face, and a crushed thyroid. Blood drops had been additionally discovered on Michael’s clothes together with a bloody shoe print on Kathleen’s sweatpants.
For motive, the prosecutors put forth the concept that Michael had murdered earlier than and was seeking to money in on Kathleen’s $1.4 million life insurance coverage coverage. Investigators additionally found homosexual pornography on Michael’s pc, suggesting the concept that he and Kathleen had fought over his bisexuality. The protection introduced in their very own forensic professional, who argued the scene’s blood-spatter proof was in step with an unintentional fall. The investigation and trial lasted two years, leading to Michael’s conviction and a sentence of life in jail with out the opportunity of parole.
In 2010, Duane Deaver, the state’s blood-spatter professional for the case, was accused of forensic incompetence. A decide then discovered that Deaver’s testimony had been each deceptive and a former North Carolina legal professional basic acknowledged that any proof gathered whereas Deaver was on the scene could possibly be inadmissible in a brand new trial. After spending eight years in jail and 6 years out on bond, Michael’s case concluded when he accepted an Alford plea to the lesser cost of manslaughter in 2017. An Alford plea concedes that the prosecution has ample proof to convict however the defendant doesn’t admit guilt. He was then sentenced to time already served.
The Different Homicide
Prosecutors felt that Kathleen’s demise was eerily just like the demise of Elizabeth Ratliff, the coworker of Michael’s first spouse, Patty, and organic mom to his adopted daughters, Martha and Margaret. When Michael was being investigated for Kathleen’s homicide, prosecutors took one other take a look at the circumstances surrounding Elizabeth’s 1985 demise in Germany, exhuming her physique in 2003. A forensic pathologist that labored on Kathleen’s case, Deborah Radisch, got here to the identical conclusion she did with Kathleen and categorized Elizabeth’s demise as a murder. Whereas Elizabeth’s post-mortem was up to date to point that she died from homicidal assault, and prosecutors for Kathleen’s case used the proof to attract parallels in court docket, Michael was by no means formally charged along with her demise.