The Case of Kathleen Peterson, Analyzed

The Staircase: An Analysis Of The Kathleen Peterson Case

A mess that has been 17 years in the making.

184
views

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.

Popular Right Now

Netflix's 'Special' Is A Groundbreaking Series About A Gay Man With Cerebral Palsy

Based off his memoir "I'm Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves" Ryan O'Connell reimagines his journey in this witty 15-minute comedy.

118
views

Ryan O'Connell is a gay man with cerebral palsy, and he's here to showcase his story in a must-see eight episode series. O'Connell navigates his world behind sexuality and disability in a coming-of-age twentysomething comedy, that's extremely important in today's society. When it comes to the topic of representation, O'Connell exceeds expectations as he shines a light on internalized ableism, being a fish out of water in his own community, and even the topic of gay sex. This series has a significant amount of charm, it's almost like a rated-R Disney show with its quirky music, fast-paced story and it's a success in making everyone's heart melt.

"Special" is about Ryan Hayes (Ryan O'Connell) a charismatic and shy gay man with mild cerebral palsy who's "28 and hasn't done a goddamn thing." Therefore, he takes the initiative of becoming an unpaid intern at an online magazine titled "Eggwoke" and begins his journey in soul-searching for his identity. His boss Olivia (Marla Mindelle), a chaotic Anna Wintour-type, expresses that most articles going viral right now are confessional ones. This allows Ryan to have his moment, as he writes an anecdote about getting hit by a car and inflates it from a minor injury to a traumatic piece, which allows him to use it as a cover story for his limp and to keep his condition a secret from his peers.

Ryan befriends one of his peers, a South-Asian American woman named Kim (Punam Patel) whose professional niche involves body positivity, the empowerment of being a person of color and a curvy girl. Her constant confidence helps paint her as the motivating friend that helps Ryan get more comfortable with himself. They share a moment at Olivia's pool party in a room when Ryan refuses to take off his clothes and she coerces him into taking off his clothes and appreciating his body. Kim might be a bit of a push towards Ryan, but she's only leading him in the right direction.

"Special" is extremely self-aware, especially within the first scenes of the first episode which explain what mild cerebral palsy is and in response a child screams in fear and runs away, leaving Ryan confused but humored. There even is a complex relationship between Ryan and his mother, Karen (Jessica Hecht). Karen's an overprotective mother who only wants the best for her child, but when she's at that point of finally letting him be free she's put into a place of loneliness. The show tackles a very specific mother/son relationship, as Ryan tries not to rely on his mother for help all the time, Karen does not mind any hassle regarding her son... especially with his condition. The two butt heads at multiple occasions, but their love for one another prevails.

"Special" has eight episodes that you can watch on Netflix right now, it's binge-worthy especially with each episode being around 15 minutes and it's also an eye-opener. This show helps strive for self-revelation and self-evaluation, it's a reflective process on identity and what categories we put ourselves in. Ryan O'Connell has made such a marvelous show, with a charming cast, multiple important messages, and a motive to help normalize disabilities and homosexuality to the public through a unique and specific perspective. It's a personal experience that everyone should watch, learn and love from.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Disney's Streaming Service Is Chock Full Of Your Favorite Disney Content

Although Disney content will be missing from Netflix and Hulu, you can get all the Disney you want for $7 a month.

5
views

On April 11, Disney announced their streaming service, Disney+, and all that it will have to offer.

The service will launch on Nov 12 after a long period of waiting from fans. The service was initially announced back in 2017.

The price of the service will be $6.99 a month and will be available on a multitude of smart devices, including consoles.

Not only will Disney+ include their own content, but some from Fox, Pixar, and National Geographic as well. According to Mike Sorrentino and Joan E. Solsman of CNet, they will also feature the entire collection of The Simpsons.

Alongside these networks, Disney will include theatrical movies such as "The Lion King," "Snow White," and other classic films from what is called the Disney Vault. Later in the year, newer films such as "Captain Marvel" will be put on the service.

Disney also owns Hulu and ESPN Plus but will continue to charge individually for each service. "Disney plans for all three to be individual subscriptions, but it said it's likely to bundle them at a discount," Sorrentino and Solsman wrote.

As for the Disney content on Netflix, it will virtually disappear. Over the last few years, Netflix, in partnership with Disney has created the Marvel Defenders shows, such as "Luke Cage," "Jessica Jones," "Daredevil," "Ironfist," and others. In 2018 and 2019. Netflix has canceled them all, but it's possible that they could be revived under the new streaming service

Although this may add just another service to pay for, it consolidates and adds to what has been available through Netflix and Hulu, giving viewers a nearly endless stream of Disney content to consume.

Related Content

Facebook Comments