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“It’s my life on the line and I want to tell my story,” Colin Firth, who plays Peterson, states in the trailer, while making a toast. “And I promise you, when we are on the other side of this, things will be better. To la familia, and to the ones we miss.”
The eight-episode HBO Max series stars Firth, of “The King’s Speech” fame, alongside Toni Collette, Parker Posey, Juliette Binoche, and Rosemarie DeWitt. Sophie Turner and Odessa Young portray Peterson’s adopted daughters, Collette plays Peterson’s wife, DeWitt will play his sister-in-law, and Posey portrays the notorious prosecutor, Freda Black.
Peterson, a novelist, was convicted in 2003 for the murder of his wife, Kathleen Peterson, whose bloody and battered body was found at the bottom of a staircase in their North Carolina home in 2001. Her death spawned many theories, including one that an owl had killed her. And the trailer includes a quick but noticeable scene of a stuffed owl, hinting that the theory may be mentioned in the series.
French filmmaker, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, documented Peterson's trial, in what eventually aired as a docuseries, also called "The Staircase," in 2004. In 2018, de Lestrade updated the series with new episodes which aired on Netflix.
The first three episodes of the dramatic retelling of “The Staircase” will debut on May 5 on HBO Max. The other five episodes will be released weekly.
While Peterson spent nearly a decade behind bars for his wife's death, he was granted a new trial in 2011 after a judge determined that a key prosecution witness, Duane Deaver, provided unreliable testimony during his trial. Deaver had testified that bloodstain analysis from the scene indicated that Kathleen Peterson's injuries were sustained during a fatal beating — not from an accidental fall. Deaver was fired from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation in 2011 after allegedly providing false testimony at a number of trials.
Then in 2017, just months before the scheduled retrial, Peterson submitted an Alford plea to the reduced charge of manslaughter. The plea deal acknowledged that there was likely enough evidence to convict him at trial, while still allowing him to maintain his innocence. He was sentenced to time served and the court declared that he would never face another day in court for his wife's death.
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