Spoiler Alert: Did he or didn’t he kill his wife?

By Tara Whitsed

It is a mystery that novelist Michael Peterson could have written in his very own books.
But instead, the circumstances surrounding his wife Kathleen’s death made for intriguing viewing in the 2004 documentary The Staircase after she was found at the base of the family’s stairs, having bled to death.
The 2004 French television mini-series documented Peterson’s trial after he was arrested and subsequently charged for murdering Kathleen.
More than a decade later, the filmmakers have revisited the case after the idea to extend the documentary series was picked up by Netflix.
Netflix also has the original docu-series, before three episodes update viewers about what happened to Peterson in 2011 and the years following.
The series is incredibly intriguing and follows on from Netflix heavyweight docu-series Making a Murderer, which cemented the genre as one it does best.
Both share huge similarities in that they follow a case where it appears there has been a miscarriage of justice.
The Staircase, however, leaves viewers as confused as the jury at his trial must have been.
Confronting images of a deceased Kathleen are shown to viewers.
With litres of blood covering the stairwell and several large lacerations to the back of Kathleen’s head, the police immediately assume this was no accident.
But as the series flows on we are presented with many pieces of information that make us question Peterson’s guilt.
His lawyer David Rudolph plays a huge part in the series, helping to unpack the legal jargon and it is incredibly interesting to see his and Peterson’s relationship unfold.
Peterson’s family is also heavily featured — all supporting him throughout the trial and maintaining his innocence.
For those who viewed the series all those years ago, it must have been an agonising wait to find out how the case had progressed but for newcomers to the series, it is a rare gem to be able to jump forward a decade and ultimately watch the case’s conclusion.
We see a happy ending to the ordeal, with Rudolph discovering one of the key prosecution witnesses was in fact corrupt.
Peterson is granted a retrial and is released from prison under house arrest.
While he always maintains his innocence, The Staircase often leaves you feeling like Peterson and Kathleen are really the only two people who will know exactly what happened that night.
It is a quality crime docu-series and is highly recommended to fans of the genre.
The Staircase can be streamed now on Netflix.