The Staircase, a new true crime limited series from HBO, explores the bizarre and horrifying tale of a novelist found guilty of killing his second wife.
The show, which premieres tonight on HBO Max, explores the tale of Kathleen Peterson’s puzzling death in 2001. All eyes were on Kathleen’s husband, Michael Peterson, when she was discovered dead at the bottom of the staircase of her mansion.
Peterson insisted he was innocent, but he was found guilty of the crime. But in 2011, he was released from prison after fulfilling his sentence. Now, what is he doing? Here is what the White House is aware of regarding Michael Peterson’s activities following the tragic staircase incident.
Michael Peterson is an author.
The Immortal Dragon, A Time of War, and A Bitter Peace are three works by novelist and Vietnam War veteran Michael Peterson that discuss his experiences in the conflict. Additionally, he co-wrote two books, Operation Broken Reed and Charlie Two Shoes and the Marines of Love Company. According to NBC, Peterson also wrote weekly columns for a regional publication.
Peterson attended Duke University and was a Tennessee native. He ultimately joined the marines and left for Vietnam after working for the US Department of Defense. Peterson, a captain at the time, received an honourable discharge after an automobile accident that left him with lifelong disability.
Peterson also ran for mayor of Durham during that time, but there’s a very different tale.
In 1997, he wed Kathleen Atwater, his second spouse.
What happened to his wife, Kathleen?
According to ABC News, Peterson contacted 911 early on December 9, 2001, saying that he had discovered his wife, Kathleen, at the bottom of the staircase in their home, still alive but unresponsive.
Peterson said that his wife had taken Valium and consumed alcohol before falling down the stairs. Police, however, claimed they suspected foul play because of the volume of blood on the stairs. Many skull lacerations were discovered during Kathleen’s autopsy, which the then-district attorney Jim Hardin attributed to “multiple inflictions of blunt force trauma.” After being detained, Peterson was given a murder charge.
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However, it just gets stranger. The possibility that Kathleen had actually been attacked by a barred owl outside, stumbled inside, and struck her head on the steps was raised in 2009 by a fresh suggestion from a local lawyer. In her hair, tiny owl feathers had been discovered.
What was Michael Peterson convicted of?
Prosecutors said during the 2003 trial that Kathleen was killed as a result of being beaten with a fire poker. Additionally, they claimed that Peterson was having an affair with a man, which caused the pair to argue and ultimately resulted in Peterson’s death.
The two families were split by the trial, with some of Kathleen’s kin holding Peterson accountable while his kids insisted in his innocence, according to ABC News.
How long was he in prison?
According to ABC News affiliate WTVD, Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson determined that a state investigative analyst deceived jurors about the quality of the bloodstain evidence in Peterson’s 2003 trial, which led to Peterson’s release from jail on December 16, 2011, on a $300,000 bond.
After his release, he told reporters, “I have waited over eight years, 2,988 days in fact, and I counted for an opportunity to have a retrial,” according to ABC News. “I want to express my gratitude to Judge Hudson for providing me with this chance to defend myself and demonstrate my innocence in a fair trial this time. I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who has helped me throughout the world. I have no words to adequately express my thanks. However, what I really want to do right now is spend some time with my family and my kids. I’d be pleased to speak with everyone and share more at a later time, for sure. I appreciate it very much.
Was he cleared of murder charges?
Not quite. According to The News & Observer, Peterson was charged with more crimes in connection with Kathleen’s death and eventually filed an Alford plea in 2017. In this plea, Peterson admitted there was enough evidence to convict him of the murder but maintained his innocence. He received an 86-month prison term. He did not, however, serve any more jail time because he had already served a number of years in prison.
Where is Michael Peterson living now?
Peterson’s current residence is unknown, however all indications point to Durham.
According to the News and Observer, Peterson received $640,000 for the five-story house he and Kathleen shared. The Sun reports that it was placed up for sale once more in 2020.
Additionally, according to Oxygen, when announcing that Peterson was still residing in the region to a gathering at CrimeCon in 2019, his attorney, David Rudolf, added the peculiar qualifier: “He’s in a ground level flat with no stairs—that was a pretty essential accommodation.”
He’s written a book about his experience with the legal system.
He has undoubtedly been writing as well. In 2019, Peterson wrote a book titled Behind the Staircase that described his experience.
The first post on his author Instagram account, where he has shared a few photos, talks about his struggle to clear his name and is captioned, “This is my first post and I’m still trying to figure out how to use Instagram.” He also appears to have started a Twitter account. My generation isn’t known for being technologically savvy.
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Another from February 2021 showed a Christmas tree in what might be his new residence in Durham.
What is his net worth now?
Approximately $500,000 is Peterson’s net worth, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
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