The Staircase

The Staircase

  • TV-MA
  • 2005
  • 1 Season
  • 7.9  (19,229)

The Staircase is a six part documentary exploring the murder trial of novelist Michael Peterson, and by extension the American justice system. Directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, the film begins with the scene of the crime. In December 2001, Kathleen Peterson was found in a pool of blood at the bottom of a staircase at the family home in Durham, North Carolina. Her husband Michael called 911 and reported the accident, but police immediately become suspicious that her death is a homicide due to the blood splattered scene and the number of injuries she suffered. Both the prosecution and defense teams allowed the filmmakers access to their preparation for the trial. The film includes interviews with the accused murderer, as well as his adult children. As each side prepares for trial, Peterson's life, marriage and sexual orientation become part of the case for and against him. Many surprising twists occur in the case, from his stepdaughter's alignment with the prosecution, to the discovery of a disturbingly similar death in his past. Another woman was found dead at the bottom of a staircase, when Michael was the last person to see her alive. The documentary covers the case from the first police video of the crime scene, through the trial and verdict. Peterson allows the cameras to remain during family dinners and strategy discussions with his attorneys, so the film captures every aspect of a defendant with life imprisonment hanging over his head. The murder scene is covered in detail, with many grisly autopsy photos and discussion; therefore the material may be best suited to mature audiences.

The Staircase
Filter by Source

Seasons
Between Despair and Anger
12. Between Despair and Anger
June 8, 2018
Their faith in the justice system forever shaken, Michael and his family discuss what they can hope to achieve by continuing the fight.
In Search of a Resolution
11. In Search of a Resolution
June 8, 2018
Following two and a half years of house arrest, Michael must decide whether to push for a plea or risk his freedom with a new trial.
The Staircase Last Chance - Final Appeal
10. The Staircase Last Chance - Final Appeal
March 11, 2013
Exploring new developments in the case of author Michael Peterson, who was accused of murdering his wife in North Carolina.
The Staircase Last Chance - Reopening the Case
9. The Staircase Last Chance - Reopening the Case
March 4, 2013
Shocking discoveries provide new insight in one of the most complex murder trials of recent times. 8 years ago, Michael Peterson was found guilty of killing his wife. There may just be one chance left to appeal
Chapter 8: The Verdict
8. Chapter 8: The Verdict
April 25, 2005
In chapter eight, tension rises as the jury deliberates Peterson's fate. Oscar®-winning documentary filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade chronicles the sensational story of North Carolina author Michael Peterson, who stood trial in 2003 for the murder of his wife. Granted unusual access to Peterson's lawyers and his immediate family, de Lestrade presents a gripping look at a high-profile murder trial from the inside.
Chapter 7: The Blowpoke Returns
7. Chapter 7: The Blowpoke Returns
April 25, 2005
In chapter seven, a surprising discovery comes to the attention of the defense. Oscar®-winning documentary filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade chronicles the sensational story of North Carolina author Michael Peterson, who stood trial in 2003 for the murder of his wife. Granted unusual access to Peterson's lawyers and his immediate family, de Lestrade presents a gripping look at a high-profile murder trial from the inside.
Chapter 6: The Prosecution's Revenge
6. Chapter 6: The Prosecution's Revenge
April 18, 2005
In chapter six, a reluctant witness rivets the attention of all in the courtroom. Oscar®-winning documentary filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade chronicles the sensational story of North Carolina author Michael Peterson, who stood trial in 2003 for the murder of his wife. Granted unusual access to Peterson's lawyers and his immediate family, de Lestrade presents a gripping look at a high-profile murder trial from the inside.
Chapter 5: A Weak Case
5. Chapter 5: A Weak Case
April 18, 2005
In chapter five, the prosecution presents its case... and produces the murder weapon. Oscar®-winning documentary filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade chronicles the sensational story of North Carolina author Michael Peterson, who stood trial in 2003 for the murder of his wife. Granted unusual access to Peterson's lawyers and his immediate family, de Lestrade presents a gripping look at a high-profile murder trial from the inside.
Chapter 4: A Prosecution Trickery
4. Chapter 4: A Prosecution Trickery
April 11, 2005
In chapter four, the eve of the trial is overshadowed by a damning report in the press. Oscar®-winning documentary filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade chronicles the sensational story of North Carolina author Michael Peterson, who stood trial in 2003 for the murder of his wife. Granted unusual access to Peterson's lawyers and his immediate family, de Lestrade presents a gripping look at a high-profile murder trial from the inside.
Chapter 3: A Striking Coincidence
3. Chapter 3: A Striking Coincidence
April 11, 2005
In chapter three, a death that occurred 17 years earlier sparks a new investigation. Oscar®-winning documentary filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade chronicles the sensational story of North Carolina author Michael Peterson, who stood trial in 2003 for the murder of his wife. Granted unusual access to Peterson's lawyers and his immediate family, de Lestrade presents a gripping look at a high-profile murder trial from the inside.
Chapter 2: Secrets and Lies
2. Chapter 2: Secrets and Lies
April 4, 2005
In chapter two, a hidden aspect of Michael Peterson's life comes to light. Oscar®-winning documentary filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade chronicles the sensational story of North Carolina author Michael Peterson, who stood trial in 2003 for the murder of his wife. Granted unusual access to Peterson's lawyers and his immediate family, de Lestrade presents a gripping look at a high-profile murder trial from the inside.
Chapter 1: Crime or Accident?
1. Chapter 1: Crime or Accident?
April 4, 2005
In chapter one, Peterson relates his version of the fatal events of December 9, 2001. Oscar®-winning documentary filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade chronicles the sensational story of North Carolina author Michael Peterson, who stood trial in 2003 for the murder of his wife. Granted unusual access to Peterson's lawyers and his immediate family, de Lestrade presents a gripping look at a high-profile murder trial from the inside.
The Staircase
The Staircase

Trailer - 1 min 3 sec

Description

The Staircase is a six part documentary exploring the murder trial of novelist Michael Peterson, and by extension the American justice system. Directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, the film begins with the scene of the crime. In December 2001, Kathleen Peterson was found in a pool of blood at the bottom of a staircase at the family home in Durham, North Carolina. Her husband Michael called 911 and reported the accident, but police immediately become suspicious that her death is a homicide due to the blood splattered scene and the number of injuries she suffered.

Both the prosecution and defense teams allowed the filmmakers access to their preparation for the trial. The film includes interviews with the accused murderer, as well as his adult children. As each side prepares for trial, Peterson's life, marriage and sexual orientation become part of the case for and against him. Many surprising twists occur in the case, from his stepdaughter's alignment with the prosecution, to the discovery of a disturbingly similar death in his past. Another woman was found dead at the bottom of a staircase, when Michael was the last person to see her alive.

The documentary covers the case from the first police video of the crime scene, through the trial and verdict. Peterson allows the cameras to remain during family dinners and strategy discussions with his attorneys, so the film captures every aspect of a defendant with life imprisonment hanging over his head. The murder scene is covered in detail, with many grisly autopsy photos and discussion; therefore the material may be best suited to mature audiences.The Staircase is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (12 episodes). The series first aired on April 4, 2005.

The Staircase is available for streaming on the Maha Productions website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch The Staircase on demand at Netflix.

  • Premiere Date
    April 4, 2005
  • IMDB Rating
    7.9  (19,229)