I had honestly never heard of the Peterson trial before I watched the re-release and new production of “The Staircase”. The story of Michael Peterson is extremely unusual. Kathleen Peterson, late wife of author Michael Peterson was found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their mansion. The prime suspect was her husband Michael.
The body has a number of lacerations to the head. Which made it seem as though this was more than just a fatal fall. Michael Peterson (who I will refer to as Micheal) per claimed his innocence since that night. This documentary is based from 2004-2017, and shows the trial, and the work that went into the trial as well as the suffering the family and Michael went through.
The series is hard to follow at some points because of the huge and complicated family that makes up the Peterson family. There’s adored daughters from another marriage who also died at the end of the stairs due to a “fall”, there’s bi-sexual lovers and twists and turns on every episode. So it’s a bit confusing at times. But, I found myself yearning for more. I finished the entire series in under a day.
What the series magnified to me was just how flawed our justice system is. And it has nothing to do with whether Michael was guilty or not. But the fact that someone’s fate hangs in hands of people who may be biased or have an agenda towards the defendant or state. Which in this trial, certainly seemed to be the case. Even the judge after everything was said and done said he was unfairly sentenced – in so many words. The most outrageous part about the conviction was that there literally was no evidence that pointed to Michael killing Kathleen. Their whole argument was “these wounds couldn’t have happened by falling”. Ok, that’s fine. But how does that mean Michael did it?
Now here is the part where I share my opinion. I don’t think Michael killed Kathleen. At the beginning of the series I thought, there’s no way this guy is innocent. But then after watching just how unreal and ridiculous the trial was, I turned in Michael’s favor. If you think Michael did do it. Just think for a second, what if he truly is innocent? He spent well over a million dollars, eight years in prison, is now a felon and a widow and half of his family (Kathleen’s side) disowned him.
I HIGHLY recommend watching this series. My rating is 8/10.