The Staircase: An Analysis Of The Kathleen Peterson Case

The Staircase: An Analysis Of The Kathleen Peterson Case

A mess that has been 17 years in the making.


On December 9, 2001, Kathleen Peterson was found dead with a pool of blood at the bottom of the servant staircase in her Forest Hills mansion in Durham, North Carolina. Michael Peterson reportedly called for police and medical help, sounding very distressed and panicked. Thinking this was going to be handled as an accident, he was shocked when authorities began to treat the scene as a crime and later arrested him for Kathleen's murder.

The Peterson case soon turned in a national sensation as Michael's case went to trial. 17 years later, in 2018, a Netflix documentary has been released that chronicles the case, including footage from the entire trial and preparation for the trial. This has rehashed many feelings and opinions about the case and the state of Michael's innocence.

I take major issue with the whole trial, as well as the documentary, that is supposed to be objective and unbiased. I am a true-crime lover, so I was quite interested in learning about this case when the documentary came out. I listened to two podcast episodes about it, Mile Higher and Generation Why, before I watched the documentary so I was already well-versed in how this trial unfolded.

In short, Michael Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In 2011, Peterson was released and put under house arrest as his request for retrial was being processed. SBI agent, Duane Deaver, who testified for the prosecution in Peterson's trial, was fired after being investigated for fraud. He had falsely represented evidence in 34 cases, causing a claim of misrepresentation of evidence on Michael Peterson's behalf.

On February 24, 2017, Peterson entered an Alford plea, admitting guilt to voluntary manslaughter and was facing no more additional jail time.

Let's dive deeper into what is wrong with the whole case. The first major red flag is that Kathleen's injuries are not consistent with a fall down the steps. There was a massive amount of blood at the scene, more than would be expected from a fall down the steps. She had multiple lacerations on her head but no skull fractures or brain contusions, which eliminated blunt force trauma.

However, the prosecutions went with the blow poke theory, which says that Michael beat his wife with their blow poke that was always in the house but mysteriously could not be found after Kathleen's death.

Next, they brought in witnesses of Elizabeth Ratliff's death, which happened in 1985 in Germany. Michael was living there with his first wife at the time and was the last person to see Ratliff alive. The death was declared a brain hemorrhage as a result of her Von Willebrand's disease.

I'll give it to them that it looks suspicious. However, there's no evidence pointing to foul play by Michael Peterson, and yet the prosecution still went with it. They went as far as to exhume Ratliff's body for another autopsy, done by the same medical examiner that performed Kathleen's autopsy. Of course, she's going to say it was homicidal since she's working with the prosecution. There's a conflict of interest. It would have been more credible if her second autopsy was done by someone not involved in the trial.

My final issue is with the documentary itself. A lot of filming was done during the preparation and the trial, but it was all of the defense. It shows Michael with his family, depicting him as a loving father with his children that support him. It shows the defense speaking with experts and devising their strategies, but nothing of the prosecution. We only see the prosecution and hear their side in the courtroom.

Bottom line is, there's no way Kathleen's injuries came from a fall down the stairs, but there's also no possibility it was a beating with the blow poke either. I always thought Michael was guilty, but even I was questioning my stance while watching the documentary. I believe that documentary was made to enhance Michael's reputation and make him seem to be a good guy who was just pulled into this case. They obviously are not going to bring in any evidence that makes him look guilty if this was their objective, to begin with.

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...


"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"


Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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10 'New Girl' Quotes To Help You Stick To Just Being You

Who better to tell you how to be a better yourself than the wise beyond their years cast of New Girl?


Honestly, the year 2019's anthem is going to be all about being yourself! Be you because as Dr. Suess, "You'll never be youer than you are now." Who better to tell you how to be a better yourself than the wise beyond their years cast of New Girl!

1. When you're feeling like a mess. 

New Girl


Just remember you are not using a bread roll to wipe the butter off your face.


Just remember that the more butter you get on the bread makes the bread tastes much much better therefore if you happen to get butter on your face slyly like Jess use the bread to get more butter on your bread in order to make it more better for consumption. Also instead of wasting that good sweet ghee on a paper or fancy linen napkin that will just get thrown away or washed away do your buddy mother Earth a solid and just eat the butter off a roll!

2. When your need to psych yourself up! 



If you are a long time fan of new girl then you are well aware that Schmidt has some of the best lines of the show . However funny and ego inflated Schmidt may be he is also one character that has a lot of past trauma and self-conscious behave that is masked in different ways including humor. So when you yourself are feeling self-conscious or nervous "JBLS" Just be like Schmidt. Sike yourself up by knowing what you want in this life and taking it, dawg.

3. When you aren't sure of where you are going.

Dr. Sam


If a good Schmidt sike up jam doesn't help you out then here is another friendly reminder. Just remember, Dr. Sam didn't know who the heck he was or what he was doing for a time. Dr. Sam wasn't happy and didn't like himself. He was a successful doctor, with a nice house, a nice truck, obviously good at sex, and heck he was hottttttt!!

4. When in doubt drink it out. 



Not that I am promoting overzealous amounts of drinking but heck sometimes ya girl could use a drink. But honestly, don't find solutions at the bottom at a bottle. You can have a good time from time to time but don't get lost in the "sauce" per say. Really when in doubt figure it out while singing everything that you do or making a dramatic monologue. Then when you go out with your best friend Cece you can get your chardonnay drink on! Be sure to keep your pants on though!

5. Great parenting advice.

Advice from Jessica Day


Jessica Day was the mother hen of great life advice and a bowl of weird combined. Nevertheless, Jess goes off on a few rides with great advice for her friends and honestly it all makes sense in real life too. When Winston was worrying about if he could be a good day Jess said this to him and consoled him through his quest of finding his real dad. It's true though, for all those budding parents or people unsure of how to be a parent one day, you don't have to have had a dad to be a great dad. It's true advice with whatever title you put in there your progress in this life is not a direct link with the progress or result of having someone in your life to lead you to that progress. You have the ability to be great or to not. It is simple Shakespearean just with a little less angst. All you have to do is just decide and do it.

6. Eat what you want and dance while you do! 



In this life there is such little time and so much to eat. So who the heck cares about all those calories and the pounds you will gain. Life isn't about worrying about appearances it is all about what you do in it. So eat the pizza, chips, and fries and drink up while you can. Dance while you do it. If you are unhappy with the pounds find healthy ways to shave a few off but don't deprive yourself into thinking food is the devil like Schmidt did. Love you and love your body.

7. Everything is all in the way you view things.

The fact that they named their daughter Ruth awesome


With the addition of Ruth to the cast, the final season was an adorable and funny classic way to say goodbye to our little loft family. Little Ruth was the best combination of Cece and Schmidt with the daring outlook that her name inspires to do what she's going to do and be who she will be. We can all be a lot like Ruth.

8. You can be alone and be happy alone. 

Single Pringles Are Sufficient


If you are a single pringle like me you love when there is a show about loving yourself and figuring out who you are before loving someone else. Jessica has a lot of time to figure that out. After her break up from Spencer she has long bursts of single periods before she finds someone she likes again and that likes her back. She throughout the whole process never fails to experiment and become furthermore herself. We should all do that, don't you think.

9. Wear and walk through life with confidence.

The Women's coat

For a whole episode, Nick wears a women's coat just because it gives him a strange sense of confidence. Here's to you just being you in your women's coat of confidence soaring through life on your own wings since you don't need anyone else's wings to soar. You put on your coat of confidence and bam here you are ready and willing to shine bright.

10. We're weird and we're proud! 

Weird And Proud!

Be You! Be Weird!

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