On June 8, Netflix's new documentary series, The Staircase, premieres as a package of 13 episodes, three of which are brand new additions to the decade-old Michael Peterson saga. In 2001, Peterson was accused of murdering his wife, Kathleen Peterson, who was found dead at the bottom of the staircase inside their home. His case became the subject of a documentary series spanning 14 years, and the newest installments bring more recent developments to light. If you’ve been intrigued by the Peterson case, you may be wondering, will there be a Season 2 of The Staircase? (Romper reached out to Michael Peterson's representatives and Netflix for additional statements.)
In light of recent events, it doesn’t look like the series will get another season. You have to remember that the documentary series has been airing in pieces since 2004, following every detail and development in Peterson’s case. In February of 2017, Peterson pretty much ended his case by entering into a plea deal with the Durham County prosecutor’s office that changed his sentencing to time already served. As of now, it looks like Peterson’s legal battles are over, and he has gone on to live his life with his family. So unless there is some astonishing development in the case, it’s highly unlikely that we'll see additional seasons or episodes.
The Staircase first aired in 2004, as Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, was given rare access to the case and Peterson’s defense team. This allowed him to film the trial, and interview witnesses, family members, and jurors involved in the case. His rare access to the case allowed him to release the documentary series in increments, as things unfolded. With the most recent developments in the case, starting with a reversal of conviction, a retrial, and now his subsequent plea deal, De Lestrade went back to filming and produced three new episodes to reveal the details of what went down.
The thing that makes The Staircase stand out from any other true crime series is the amount of access and footage De Lestrade was given, plus the fact the Peterson, a crime novelist, was charged with mostly circumstantial evidence. Initially, Kathleen’s death was deemed to be an accident, with Peterson claiming that she must have taken a deadly fall down the stairs. However, the autopsy results led investigators to believe that Kathleen's death was because of foul play. Michael was the first and only suspect, which resulted in his arrest and murder charges. soon after, news starting circling about another woman, Elizabeth Ratliff, who had coincidentally also been found dead at the bottom of a staircase in Peterson’s Germany home over a decade before. To this day, Michael adamantly denies any involvement in both Kathleen and Elizabeth's deaths.
During trial, the prosecution presented some lofty evidence against Michael, including the theory that he beat her to death with a missing fire poker. At the end of the trial, the jury convicted him of murder. As previously mentioned, Peterson has maintained his innocence from the beginning. Even with the plea deal that allowed him to remain a free man, he does not admit to killing his wife. Unlike a guilty plea, the Alford Plea only admits that the prosecution has sufficient evidence to convict him.
The Staircase has covered Peterson’s point of view on the case, and unless there are any new breaks in the case, or in the unlikely event he is involved in some kind of controversy again, I can’t see there being additional seasons. For now, you can catch the entire story of Peterson’s legal drama from the beginning to the bittersweet end in The Staircase. The series will begin streaming in its entirety on Friday, June 8 on Netflix, and whether you’ve been following the Peterson case or not, it is definitely a must watch for any true crime fans.