The Staircase is a new true crime series streaming on Netflix. It will appeal to fans of Making A Murderer and The Jinx. A total of 13 episodes were released at different times and span the 16 years covering the trial of Michael Peterson, a man accused of killing his wife Kathleen on 9 December 2001 after her body was found in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs. The Iris’s Natalie Salvo has put together the top five things you should know about this program.
1. The series is written and directed by Oscar-winning director, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade who made the documentary film, Murder On A Sunday Morning about a 15-year-old African-American boy accused of a murder in Jacksonville, Florida.
2. The Staircase gives an in-depth look into the Peterson investigation, trial and aftermath. Peterson’s lawyer, David Rudolph gave the crew unprecedented access to his client. This culminated in some 800 hours of footage that was whittled down to the 13 approximately 50 minute episodes.
3. The Peterson family is a complex, blended one. Michael Peterson adopted his friend’s two daughters (Margaret and Martha Ratliff). He had two biological sons (Todd and Clayton Peterson) and Kathleen had her own biological daughter (Caitlin Atwater). The family were divided over Michael’s innocence. Caitlin and her two aunts believed Michael was a murderer while Peterson’s other family including his children steadfastly believed he was innocent. In the final episode Candace Zamperini (Kathleen’s sister) makes it clear that this film was not made with her consent or cooperation.
4. Justice Orlando Hudson looks back on the trial and with the benefit of hindsight believes that he made a mistake in allowing the prosecution to admit evidence that could have prejudiced the jury. The series certainly contains some bombshells and it may be difficult for some viewers to reconcile the fact that Michael Peterson is caught lying on more than one occasion.
5. This series exposes some serious flaws in the criminal justice system. And after 16 years while audiences can form their own opinions about whether it was a murder or a devastating accident, the truth proves elusive.
Review Score: FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Staircase is now screening on Netflix.