Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, presents a gripping courtroom thriller, offering a rare and revealing inside look at a high-profile murder trial. In 2001, author Michael Peterson was arraigned for the murder of his wife Kathleen, whose body was discovered lying in a pool of blood on the stairway of their home. Granted unusual access to Peterson's lawyers, home and immediate family, de Lestrade's cameras capture the defense team as it considers its strategic options. The series is an engrossing look at contemporary American justice that features more twists than a legal bestseller.
The defense begins presenting its case, which relies heavily upon such experts as a biomechanical engineer and a prominent forensic scientist. But the outcome may finally come down to a stunning find by Michael Peterson’s oldest son.Watch Now:iTunes
District Attorney Jim Hardin lays out the prosecution’s case and calls witnesses to testify about three points of evidence: the amount of blood at the scene; Kathleen’s head lacerations; and the potential murder weapon, a fireplace tool called a blowpoke. Rudolf puts on a tough cross-examination.Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Michael speaks to a reporter about the reasons behind his plea. Later, Kathleen's sister delivers a statement of defiance in court.
The court rules on key evidentiary issues, and the prosecution calls several witnesses who give emotionally charged testimony. Meanwhile, the trial is receiving extensive and often sensational coverage in the media.Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
The defense team is forced to contend with the prosecution’s latest bombshell concerning the death of Elizabeth Ratliff. In April 2003, there is a pre-trail hearing regarding evidence, a proceeding that ends with yet another twist. On July 1, 2003, the trial begins with opening statements.Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
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.
Their faith in the justice system forever shaken, Michael and his family discuss what they can hope to achieve by continuing the fight.
In the spring of 2002, the case takes another surprising turn when prosecutors turn their attention to the 1985 death of Elizabeth Ratliff, a military widow who was found dead at the bottom of the stairs of her home in Germany. The last person to have seen Ratliff alive is believed to have been her close friend and neighbor, Michael Peterson. Peterson subsequently adopted Ratliff’s two daughters, who must now deal with new accusations against the man who raised them.Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Shocking revelations about Michael Peterson’s private life pose new issues for his defense team, as it becomes clear that the prosecution will use these details to torpedo characterizations of the Peterson marriage as idyllic. Peterson discusses the culture and politics of Durham, subjects he frequently addressed when he was writing a local newspaper column.Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Michael Peterson recalls the night of December 9, 2001, which began with dinner, wine and a rented movie, and ended with his wife Kathleen’s death. After Peterson is charged with murder, his attorney David Rudolf begins working with the investigators and experts who will be critical to Peterson’s defense.Watch Now:AmazoniTunes