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Crime News Breaking News

Freda Black, Prosecutor In Michael Peterson Murder Trial, Found Dead

Freda Black’s death comes just months after Netflix re-released a documentary called “The Staircase” that follows Michael Peterson’s trial in 2003. 

By Stefan Lembo-Stolba
The Michael Peterson Case, Explained

Freda Black, the prosecutor in the infamous Michael Peterson murder trial and star of the Netflix documentary “The Staircase” died on Sunday, police say.

The body of 57-year-old former Durham County assistant district attorney was discovered in her home on Sunday after people close to her became concerned when they couldn't reach her, USA TODAY reported.

The attorney's body was sent to the medical examiner, but officials said her death “does not appear suspicious at this time,” according to USA TODAY.

Black was a member of the prosecution team in the murder trial against Michael Peterson, the well-known author convicted of killing his wife, Kathleen Peterson, in 2001.

Peterson maintained his innocence and in 2011 was granted another trial that ended with him leaving prison on a reduced charge.

"I didn’t hurt Kathleen. I didn’t kill her. It just didn’t happen," he told WRAL in Raleigh at the time.

Black’s death comes just months after Netflix re-released a documentary called “The Staircase” that follows Peterson’s trial in 2003 and features footage of her as a prosecutor.

Black’s closing arguments were particularly memorable, when she described the pornography in Peterson’s home, calling it “pure-T filth,” the News Observer reported. Her demeanor in court was also said to have been used as inspiration for other roles on television, the News Observer wrote.

Beyond her role in the Peterson trial, Black was a loved and respected member of the legal community.

“In the courtroom, Freda was no-nonsense,” North Carolina Rep. Marcia Morey said, according to the News Observer. “She was whip-smart and all business.”

While the prosecution eventually prevailed against Peterson, Black and her team were accused of several missteps along the way.

They were accused of bringing up evidence that implicated Peterson without directly connecting it to his wife.

They also relied on a bloodstain analyst who was later fired by the state for embellishing his credentials.

Netflix’s airing of “The Staircase” is the most recent circulation of the documentary that debuted in 2004.

Peterson is notorious for a decade-long affair with the editor of the documentary editor Sophie Brunet.

Brunet fell in love with Peterson during the production of the film and reportedly flew back to visit him several times.

The official cause of Black’s death will be determined once the medical examiner has the chance to review the body.

[Photo: Screenshot of Netflix's "The Staircase"]