The Staircase – Episodes 175 – 178


Part 1

Eric Ray and Glenn Langenburg focus their forensic science backgrounds on the infamous Kathleen Peterson murder as it was portrayed in The Staircase. The guys review their initial impressions of the case and the documentary and then tell the basic outlines of the story where Michael Peterson is suspected, arrested, charged, and convicted of the murder of his wife. There are so many twists and turns to this story that we had to get them all out of the way in this episode before focusing on the forensics in upcoming episodes.

Part 2

In our second dive down The Staircase, Eric Ray and Glenn Langenburg start looking closely at all of the forensic evidence available in the case and what it all means. The documentary leaves lots of questions that we try to answer in this episode like: Can you trace an impact back to a point in space? Could the wall, rail, or step have caused all of the impact sites? Where was the defense medical examiner expert? Did the prosecutor have other bloodstain experts ready to testify besides Deaver? Was there castoff? Were there other wounds besides the scalp lacerations? Was it valid to say that there were no other beating deaths without brain or skull injuries? Was there a cleanup? Were the shorts cleaned? Were Deaver’s experiments valid? What about his shirt? Quote from the episode, “People need to hear this evidence. Because I think when you watch these documentaries, you’re back and forth. And if you’re really suspicious of law enforcement, then you come out of this going, ‘This guy got railroaded.’ This guy was innocently convicted. This is a BS case. It was all on lies.

But I want to go back to the evidence. I haven’t seen it in 15 years, but when I saw it then, in 2002, I went, ‘Oh. This is open-shut. This is clear-cut. There is no ambiguity here.'” The three big pieces of evidence were that there was an impact site on her head in space which means that someone swung an object to hit her, there was signs of a cleanup and of blood drying meaning that she was not breathing when the 911 call was made, and the blood stains on his shorts means that he was near the body when blood was flying around.

Part 3 – Bart Epstein Interview

Glenn Langenburg and Eric Ray are graciously joined by Bart Epstein in an interview about bloodstain and other forensic evidence from the trial of Michael Peterson in the death of Kathleen Peterson. Bart Epstein explains his involvement in the case, his opinions on the blood evidence, and where he agreed and disagreed with Duane Deaver and Dr. Henry Lee.

This episode is also sponsored by IDEMIA and their new product, Case AFIS.

Part 4

Glenn Langenburg and Eric Ray try to wrap up any final discussion points from The Staircase docu-series. After Michael Peterson’s conviction was overturned and a new trial was ordered, new attorneys come in, but an Alford plea is reached and Michael Peterson is released. Should a retrial have gone forward? What decisions did the original judge regret? What mistakes did the prosecution make? What is a blowpoke? And could an owl have been the murderer and/or the murder weapon?

This episode is sponsored by IDEMIA.