The Staircase

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Crime or Accident
On December 9, 2001 at 2:41 a.m. the rescue squad of the city of Durham, North Carolina got an urgent call from a man who had a hard time explaining that his wife had fallen down a flight of stairs.

He said she was bleeding profusely but still breathing. When the medical team arrived five minutes later, it was too late. The victim was dead. Her husband had traces of blood on his hands and face.

For the inspector in charge of the inquiry, the facts spoke for themselves: there was too much blood and too many wounds on the victim. It was not an accident, but a murder.

A week later Michael Peterson was arrested.

This is a murder mystery like no other by the Academy Award-winning director of Murder on a Sunday Morning. After winning the Oscar, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade set out to make a documentary investigating another alleged murder, a story that quickly developed more twists and turns than a script for CSI.

With unprecedented access to all the central characters, the result is the first-ever docu-thriller series Death on the Staircase: Crime Scene or Accident?

The Staircase, 8.5 out of 10 based on 29 ratings

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  • Ananda

    A really gripping series from the same filmmaker who made Murder on a Sunday Morning (elsewhere on this site).

    This cinema verite film make fiction look tame indeed by comparison, and the main characters will live will you for a long time.

    • CrackedPepper86

      I concur, I’ve watched this doc about a year ago (Sunday Morning, too, which is also fantastic) and I STILL find myself thinking about it.

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  • Minna

    I never know what to make of this guy, guilty? not guilty? i think that’s why i love this documentary!

  • Caitlin

    He was let out of jail 2 weeks ago and granted a new trial due to the prosecution’s blood spatter expert misrepresenting his credentials in court!

  • Joanne

    Amazing documentary totally fascinating 

  • Paul

    So hilarious to see the defense try to justify that crap. Lady was murdered. 100%.

    • Michael

      Thanks for your ruling your honour.

  • AAA

    The thing is, I’ve seen someone who was horribly injured after falling down a large flight of CONCRETE stairs. The amount of blood lost from the incident was absolutely nothing compared to this woman’s “fall”. Makes no sense how someone can fall down wooden steps and end up absolutely covered in blood and spattering the area around them. Whether or not this guy killed her….she WAS murdered. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

    • Michael

      That’s because a rocket scientist wouldn’t figure it out. Not their area of expertise, nor yours.

  • david bowler

    I have watched this film many times thought it brilliant.
    That is until i researched the trail, this film is so biased and deceitful its criminal.
    The amount of forensic facts and timelines etc that have not been shown leave
    you in no doubt the man is a killer.
    I strongly suggest you seek out the information availble and i bet you will be in no doubt either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=725897291 Samara Willmer

    No murder weapon, no motive, verdict: guilty. Just goes to show how stupid the average American juror is.

  • Sofia Hager

    Even small amounts of blood can, if in in diluted form, appear to be of greater amount than what it really is. I mean: Every time I floss my teeth the sink looks like a crime scene :D