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The Staircase: Lawyers say it was an aggressive owl, not a husband, who murdered a woman

The stairwell murder of Kathleen Peterson has been described as the most compelling real-life true crime story you’ve never heard of. Her neighbor was convinced that an owl had attacked her

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Kathleen Peterson: Husband calls 911 in 2001

Mystery surrounds the death of a woman, who died at the bottom of a staircase in her own home, with lawyers convinced an owl killed her.

Kathleen Peterson was a businesswoman and philanthropist who lived in Durham, North Carolina with her writer husband Michael and died under mysterious circumstances in 2001.

Her death has since been the subject of documentaries, books, TV shows and podcasts as she has been described as the most compelling real-life true crime story you have never heard of.

On Thursday, a miniseries called The stairs and starring Oscar winner Colin Firth as Michael Peterson, is set to premiere on Sky Atlantic.







Michael and his wife in happier times
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Netflix)

Husband Michael has always claimed his wife tragically fell to her death, but he was later found guilty of her murder by a jury.

The court heard he brutally attacked his wife with a blow from open fire, causing 35 injuries, including a row to the back of the head, and leaving her in a pool of blood at the foot of the stairs.

He made a harrowing call to police, saying his wife was still alive after falling down the stairs, but by the time officers arrived her body was cold and her blood had curdled.







The Petersons
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Netflix)

Prosecutors argued his motive for killing his wife was that she found out he was using male escorts and she had a $1.5million (£1.1million) life insurance policy with her husband as the beneficiary have.

Mr Peterson always denied assaulting his wife and did not comment during his trial.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

He also denied any involvement in the death of Elizabeth Ratcliff, a friend of the Peterson family, who was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in 1985, despite being the last person to see her alive.







Graphic images of Kathleen’s injuries were shown during the trial
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Netflix)

After Michael’s murder conviction, his attorneys appealed and even came up with an alternative theory as to who killed Kathleen – an owl.

The owl theory was first discussed by Peterson’s neighbor and attorney Larry Pollard, who claims that all the evidence points to Kathleen being attacked by a bird of prey.

Mr Pollard suspected that 48-year-old Kathleen was “stomped” by an owl by the family’s swimming pool as she was laying out animal decorations for Christmas.

He says she pulled her hair out trying to get the bird off her head, fell into the house to escape the attack, and fell trying to climb the stairs.







The cuts
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Netflix)

He says the wounds on her head look like they were inflicted by an owl’s claws, Kathleen’s own hair was found in her hands, a microscopic feather was found on her body, and owls were known to live in the neighborhood of Durham.

Mr. Pollard said that Beyond any reasonable doubt Podcast in 2017 that he didn’t have an ax in his case and just wanted to get to the bottom of the truth.

He added that the only way to finally find out what happened is to exhume Kathleen’s body and do an MRI scan of her head to show whether it has cracks from an owl’s claws or crushed bones from one Attack with a swipe.






Kathleen Peterson died at home

He told the BBC Podcast: “That’s the challenge I say is where the rubber meets the road and where the claw meets the skull.”

Arguments against the owl theory were that Michael was in the house at the time and would have heard his wife screaming as she ran into the house before the owl attack.

Discussing the owl theory, Michael Peterson himself said, “I know the owl is just as realistic as that ridiculous blow-poke thing.”







Michael Peterson in prison
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Netflix)

And his attorney David Rudolph added: “When I first heard that, I thought it was ridiculous.”

After serving eight years in prison, Michael was released pending a retrial.

But the owl theory was never tested by a jury, as he went to trial on appeal and, instead of a retrial, pleaded guilty to killing Kathleen by involuntary manslaughter as part of an “Alford plea” in 2017.







Kathleen was 48 when she died
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Picture:

Netflix)

The Alford plea meant Michael agreed that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him of his wife’s murder.

After serving time in prison prior to his appeal, Michael Peterson was released from court in 2017.

He still denies assaulting his wife.

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/us-news/staircase-lawyers-say-aggressive-owl-26830715 The Staircase: Lawyers say it was an aggressive owl, not a husband, who murdered a woman

Fry Electronics Team

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