Dateline NBC is airing a two-hour special Friday night on Michael Peterson, the one-time Durham socialite turned convicted killer.
Last month, Peterson entered an Alford plea to the charge of voluntary manslaughter for the death of his wife, Kathleen, in 2001. The plea allowed the novelist to accept a guilty verdict in what had been one of the longest trials in North Carolina history without admitting guilt.
According to a press release from NBC, “Down the Back Staircase ” will include interviews with Peterson as well as Kathleen’s sister, Candace Zamperini; Peterson’s daughters, Martha Ratliff and Margaret Ratliff; Peterson’s brother, Bill Peterson; Detective Art Holland; former Assistant District Attorney Freda Black; Peterson’s defense attorney, David Rudolf; and Kathleen’s daughter, Caitlin Atwater. (Atwater spoke to the INDY about her mother prior to Peterson’s plea deal.)
Dateline is billing the special, featuring correspondent Dennis Murphy, as “one of the most compelling mysteries we’ve ever covered as you haven’t heard it before.” In a clip, Peterson tells Murphy that taking the plea last month was “the most difficult decision I ever made in my life.”
Peterson has maintained for fifteen years that he not did kill his wife. He was convicted of murdering her in 2003, but that conviction was overturned in 2011 after a judge ruled that an SBI agent had misled jurors about his findings analyzing the blood at the Peterson’s Cedar Street home. Peterson was granted a retrial that was scheduled for May 2017. Instead, Peterson took the Alford plea, which let him walk out of Durham County Superior Court on February 24 a free man, having already served more than eight years in prison.