Sunday, February 26, 2017

Watched - The Staircase

The Staircase
2004

'Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, presents a gripping courtroom thriller, offering a rare and revealing inside look at a high-profile murder trial. In 2001, author Michael Peterson was arraigned for the murder of his wife Kathleen, whose body was discovered lying in a pool of blood on the stairway of their home. Granted unusual access to Peterson's lawyers, home and immediate family, de Lestrade's cameras capture the defense team as it considers its strategic options. "The Staircase" is an engrossing look at contemporary American justice that features more twists than a legal bestseller.'

After watching The Jinx recently, people recommend The Staircase to me.  I found it was available from Netflix, bumped it to the top of my list, and marathon watched the whole series today.  Wow.  I have mixed feelings about this case.  I'd like to read more about the case, or see some other shows about it if there are any.  I realize this series is from Mike Peterson's side and while they didn't really glorify him, it was still *his* story.  Just in the quick skimming of a couple online articles after watching the series, I see things that weere never mentioned on the show.  So my thoughts in this post will be about *this show.*

Kathleen Peterson was found in a bloody mess at the bottom of the staircase one night by her husband.  He called 911 and hysterically exclaimed she'd fallen down the stairs.  The police and the medical examiner felt that her injuries were more likely from being beaten to death, and her husband Mike was soon arrested.  Leading up to the trial, information about another woman's death many years earlier was investigated.  Why was this significant?  Because it was a very close friend of Mike's and, similarly, he was the last one to see her the night she died.

I'm not sure he did it.  The one big hangup for me is that case of the other woman.  If you took all of that out, like they tried to have done in the trial, I think I'd believe the defense's theory that Kathleen fell, was bleeding, got up and slipped in her own blood and fell again.  She had severe cuts to her scalp but no skull fractures or brain injuries.  How many times have we all whacked our heads on things?  Heck, I've had a stainless steel pipe fall on my head from the blend platform at work.  These blows can be quite violent, but we soldier on.  I think falling backwards from the third or fourth step might give you a nasty bump and a headache but not a skull fracture.  On the other hand, cuts to the head bleed like crazy.  I remember when hubby was building our greenhouse and one of the rafter beams slipped down and bashed him on the head.  It dropped him to the ground and was bleeding so bad we were sure he'd busted his head right open.  We raced to the emergency room and they had to put several staples in the split skin but there was no worse damage than that.  So if Kathleen fell in a way that the edge of the door frame might have sliced open her scalp, I can see her being panicked and dazed and bleeding like crazy.  I can see her maybe trying to get up, slipping in the blood and falling again on those steps, in the small area, and maybe ripping another part of her scalp open.  Maybe I'm a fool, but I can see it.

Again, according to *this show,* I don't see a motive for Mike killing her.  The theory of her discovering he was bisexual and them arguing was weak.  Okay, maybe she'd found out and they'd argued, but why would he have to kill her over that?  What about his life needed that level of secrecy?

Like I said, I want to know more about this case now.  I did read one article about The Owl Theory that I found freaky, but it makes sense.  The tears to her scalp probably could have come from an angry owl's talons swooping and attacking.  She had been walking back to the house from their swimming pool that night.  Perhaps it attacked her shortly before she got there, she went inside already bleeding and panicked, and this led to her falling on the stairs?  I'm almost sure I've seen a show or movie about this theory.  So many things about it seem familiar to me.  Maybe I've seen a Dateline type show or something about it on ID channel?

I know there were big developments in the case after this show was made.  I think his conviction was overturned or something but I haven't yet read why.  And I know just in the past couple days he's been freed after a plea deal.  Yes, I really need to read up on this case now!  I wasn't too worried about doing all that before this post though because, like I said, this post is about the original show.

Are you familiar with the Kathleen Peterson staircase death case?  Do you think her husband did it?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

6 comments:

  1. A lot of people get hung up on the fact that his friend in Germany also died in a fall down the stairs, but then he adopted those kids and they all stand behind him. I can't discount the owl theory at all--there was an owl in Oregon near where my brother works at the state offices that attacked several people. Michael Peterson's a weird dude, but that doesn't make him a murderer. Not sure what to think!

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    1. I had to chuckle during the show because during the stuff about the Germany friend they were asking if he'd possibly had an affair with her and everyone said no way. During the trial footage there were shots of the family sitting there in the courtroom and one of his sons was sitting right next to one of the adopted daughters and they looked like they could easily be related. LOL

      I did some reading about the case today. He's free now after a plea deal last week. It was an Alford plea, which means he's not admitting guilt but acknowledging they have enough to convict him. I think it was all maneuvering though, just to free him and not any real statement of his involvement.

      ~Deb

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      Totally! I remember being confused as to which kids were biological and which were adopted.

      They discussed the Alford plea on the Crime Writers On podcast the other day and I don't completely get it, but I guess the end result is that he'll likely not spend any more time in jail because of the time he's already served.

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    3. I've learned so much about the legal system from watching Snapped and other crime shows. I've learned a lot about legal maneuvering from that too, as well as from watching Suits. LOL

      ~Deb

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  2. I honestly haven't watched this documentary in several years and need to go back and re-watch it before making comments. I recall being VERY confused as to who the killer actually was (if, in fact, it was murder at all). I hope to watch it again this coming week-end!

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    1. I noticed while reading more about the case today that there is actually a Staircase 2. I'm not sure if I'll watch that one though because it's more just all the legal haggling, trying to get a new trial and whatnot.

      I hope you go back and watch this!

      ~Deb

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