The Staircase /// Part 1 /// 241


Welcome to true crime garage wherever you are, whatever you are doing. Thanks for listening. I'm your host. Nick in with me as always is a man that would like to remind us all that you can observe a lot just by watching. He is the captain. I'd like to remind you that planet game of flicky flicky and public as a crime. It's good to be seen, and it's good to see you. Thanks for listening. Thanks for Toma friend. Tonight we are drinking secret stairs by Trillium brewing company garage grade four and a quarter bottle caps out of five secret stairs is Trillium signature style. It's bold balanced and very satisfied is not too sweet or syrupy. There's an earthy nece with bitter cocoa hints which makes secret stairs. Awesome. And this wonderful beer was brought to us by these good. Good peeps right here I up. We have a MandA from Baltimore, Maryland and big out cynical from ralway New Jersey. Next up. We have Mario at the tattoo studio and parts on known 'em are me awesome tattoo of moose mowing grass on my ass. We also have Marianne Lee. She is in beautiful parts known as well and big. We like you zip to Ryan and Belmont New Hampshire. I wanna go out west and fist-bump this guy Jason from California and last, but not least we have Christina and Bothell Washington. Thanks to everybody for filling up the fridge for this week show. If you want to help us out with next week. Beer run Goto true crime, garage dot com, and click on that Doni, but and that's enough. But the base nays. That's right. Everybody gathered around grab a chair, grab a beer. Let's talk some true crime. Teams, please get them to heal. This veg an ambulance. Jill. Kathleen Peterson was born February twenty. First nineteen, fifty three in Greensboro, North Carolina. She grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and graduated first in her class at high school also voted girl of the year. So it's quite obvious. She was well liked and respected by her fellow classmates. She moved to Durham North Carolina to attend Duke University. It's been reported. She was the first female student accepted into dukes engineering school. So a very bright young woman. She met her first husband, Fred atwater at Duke. They had a daughter, Caitlin, their marriage did not. Last later she met Michael Peterson, Michael graduated from Duke as well. After extensive schooling and education Peterson, took a job with the US department of defense to research military involvement in Vietnam. Tom, he also had a first marriage to a lady named Patricia SU. She elementary school on the Rhein main air force base in west Germany. They had two children, Clayton and Todd in nineteen sixty eight Peterson enlisted in the marines and served in Vietnam in nineteen seventy-one. He received an honorable discharge with the rank of captain after a car accident, left him with a permanent disability, Michael Patricia lived in Germany for some time there, they befriended Elizabeth and George Ratliff and their two children, Margaret and Martha how unfortunately George would pass away and after his death, the Peterson's and the Ratliff families became very close when Elizabeth Ratliff died in nineteen eighty-five. Michael became the guardian of her two children after Michael and Patricia divorce in nineteen eighty seven, Clayton and Todd, the two. Sons went to live with their mother, Patricia and Margaret and Martha stayed with Michael, who then moved to Durham North Carolina, Clayton and Todd would later also joined their father. Okay. So both are divorced then when later Michael and Kathleen meet and then they are together in nineteen ninety two. The couple bought a fourteen room dream home on cedar street and five years later, Kathleen Michael married in nineteen ninety seven now are murder case. And the day in question takes place in two thousand one. By this time, Kathleen is in has been a successful business executive for Norton making about one hundred fifty thousand dollars a year Peterson. Michael Peterson wrote three novels based around his experiences during the Vietnamese conflict. The immortal dragon, eight time of war and a bitter piece are the three titles of his books. He also co authored several other. Books, and he worked as a newspaper columnist for the Durham herald sun where his columns became known for their criticism of police and Durham county district attorney, James harden junior, mainly because of what Peterson suggested was a lack of ability for the local law and order to solve cases and get convictions or start with the time line of the murder. So we'll start a day before the actual event. So on Friday, December seven, two thousand and one Kathleen takes the day off from work that afternoon. The Peterson's, Michael and Kathleen go Christmas shopping Friday evening. The Peterson's attend event for the North Carolina independent party. Michael was involved in politics at different points in his life. So it makes sense that they would be attending this event. Now on Saturday, December eighth at approximately three thirty PM hundreds of files are deleted. From Michael Peterson's PC with a disc purging program called quick clean at four forty one pm. Michael arrives at the YMCA Jim at approximately six PM. The married couple talks about renting a movie for the night as six fifty nine pm. Michael rents America's America's sweethearts at blockbuster video at nine forty, five pm. Christine Tomassetti arrives at the Peterson's home to take Todd their son to a party. She sees Kathleen and Michael sharing a bottle of wine at this time around ten twenty pm, Christine, Todd leave for this party at ten forty pm. The password atwater logs into the Peterson's PC. Michael Peterson says that they finished the movie probably around eleven pm, and then they went to the kitchen and talked for. While Michael later says that the to talk at night for two to three hours sometimes and he knows that they drank two bottles of wine that night. He does not give a more exact amount of time that they are in the kitchen drinking and talking pay attention because the following times are extremely important to our case at eleven eight PM Norton networks, co worker, Helen Pressler later testified that she talked to Kathleen Peterson at this time and that Kathleen did not sound intoxicated and did not seem abnormal in any way. She did not sense that Kathleen and Michael Peterson were fighting at this time, and he heard Kathleen ask her husband for his Email address. MS persinger said, Kathleen needed a document for a teleconference scheduled for ten AM the next day and was expecting an Email with that dock with that document attached. The Email was in fact sent to Michael Peterson's Email address at ten fifty, three pm personally Email arrives the blank emails. PowerPoint attachment was never opened. The attachment was titled readiness on Sunday, December ninth, two thousand one. Maybe sometime after midnight, the Peterson's drank and talked outside near the pool. Please note it is about fifty degrees out at night that night at this time according to Michael, after talking in the kitchen, the two went to the pool and quote, we were talking here and to Cates near the pool for a fair amount of time. Again, captain not giving us a great exact understanding of how long he believes they were out there and at what time did they go to the pool, but indicating that they were outside talking. Another statement, he actually says that they're out on the porch for awhile, and then they go out to the poor area, but. Michael was a pipe smoker so he would smoke his pipe and talk outside. So yes, it's kinda chilly outside, but he's smoking. I think Kathleen might have been a smoker maybe on some level, you know, you know, we have those people that smoke when they drink right. And I say that because later there was some nicotine found in her body so she could have joined him for smoke or just took a puff or two when they're outside having their conversation. But there's also a lot of people that when they drink, it's like when they start drinking, they don't need one. But once they get past certain point, they need many cigarettes. So right away. I don't see. I don't have any red flags, no major red flags going off regarding Michael Peterson statements about that night. I mean, other than the computer being cleaned. Right, right. That seems odd. But on top. Of that. I mean, as far as what's going down at this point in the evening, eleven o'clock, twelve o'clock, maybe a little bit later. Having watched the docu series, the staircase they didn't directly show this, but often win. Michael Peterson is kind of doing the one on one thing with the camera. I almost always see like little red stains on the side of his lips. Like this comes off to me is guy that very much likes drinking his wine, and so him saying that him and his wife were hanging out on a Saturday night. Having a couple bottles of wine does not strike me as weird it actually, I think this is probably exactly what was going down at that time. And we also have the I witness that came into pick up. The son says, hey, I saw the two hanging out and they were drinking together. Now according to Michael, this is where I start to wonder about things because according to Michael, at approximately two thirty AM he. He leaves the poor area. He goes inside and he finds his wife the bottom of the stairs. Good back. What time did she leave the poor area? Well, that's what's a little bit unclear to me because he states that we were out here for a fair amount of time talking. We were talking together and he estimates that she could have left as long as forty, five minutes to an hour before he left the poor area or it could have been as little as thirty minutes from when he left the poor area. But during that time sometime during that time, Kathleen leaves the poor area and heads inside for bed. Michael stays outside to drink and has a smoke. Like you said, then Kathleen, at some point suffers multiple deep, complex lacerations innovations to the scalp, multiple small abrasions and contusions to the face and a fracture with associated hammered of the thyroid cartilage in the neck. So quite a bit of injuries during this time right now, depending on which report you read, this is not a major deal because we're talking about a difference of sixty seconds or so. Some reports say to forty AM some say to forty one AM Michael Peterson calls nine one one, and that's the nine one one call that you heard at the start of the show. Now the operator picks up and says durum nine one one. Where is your emergency to which Michael replies, eighteen ten cedar street. Please operator, what's wrong Peterson? My wife had an accident. She still breathing operator. What kind of accident? Michael Peterson, she fell down the stairs. She's still breathing. Please come nine. One one is she conscious Peterson, what nine one one is she conscious Peterson? No, she's not conscious please. Nine one. How many stairs did she fall down? Michael Peterson. What? What? Nine one one. How many stairs Peterson, he's failing to give an answer there regarding the stairs I get. This doesn't seem like a question. He might have been expecting whether he's guilty or innocent the nine one one operator tells him to calm down, calm down, sir. Calm down Peterson, no damned, sixteen twenty. I don't know. Please get somebody here right away. Please. Nine one. Okay. Somebody's dispatching the ambulance. While I'm asking you questions Peterson, it's oh, it's forced hills. Okay, please. Please nine one one. Okay, sir. Someone is dispatching the ambulance. Is she awake now Peterson. Nine one. Hello? Hello Peterson. Now that's the end of that call asked if she's awake. Now Peterson does not give an answer and for whatever reason we don't know. But the call is ended to forty six AM Michael Peterson calls nine one one second time. Nine one one Derm nine one one. What is your emergency Peterson? Where are they? It's eighteen ten seater. She's not breathing, please. Please. Would you hurry up nine one, sir, Peterson. Can you hear me nine one sir, Peterson, yes. Nine one one sir. Calmed down there on their way. Can you tell me for sure. She's not breathing sir. Hello? Hello to forty. Eight AM paramedics arrive. And Kathleen Peterson is found dead in a hallway. Three AM police detectives begin to arrive and search eighteen ten cedar street at three, twenty four AM. Investigators secure the scene now between four fifteen and five AM some point Peterson logs onto his office computer, and he's overheard mumbling something about Email at five AM. Michael Peterson calls his attorney. Let's go into some more detailed accounts of what place during this time shall we. So we have James rose and Ron page paramedics with the Durham county emergency medical services, they arrive at the Peterson's residence at the same time, Michael son, Todd Peterson arrived. The Peterson's house is a large estate home with an open foyer entrance. The paramedics found the front door open and notice blood on it. Straight ahead through the front door is the large main staircase leading to the second floor immediately to the left after entering is a front hallway leading down to the kitchen. Off of this hallway near the kitchen is an enclosed, narrow stairwell also leading to the second floor. Yeah, there's a turn in and the staircase as well. Yeah. And upon entering the house, the paramedics observed, Kathleen, lying at the bottom of this stairwell, her legs were out into the hallway and our head was just inside the encased open door frame where the first few steps are located. Now, the stairwell runs parallel to the hallway, but has a few angled steps as you had just mentioned at the bottom designed to open up the staircase perpendicular into that hallway. Michael was seen standing over Kathleen in a semi knees, bent position with blood on his hands, arms legs and feet. He wore shorts and a t-shirt. This t shirt is partially soaked blood-soaked with splatter spots when paramedics arrived at Kathleen body. Todd, the sun tried to pull his father away stating dad, she's dead. The paramedics are here. Paramedics rose and page quickly determine that Kathleen had no pulse, and she was not breathing. Michael stated that he had gone outside to turn off. The lights came back in and then found her at the bottom of the steps. Paramedic rose testified later that there was any normal amount of blood. He said, dried blood was on the steps and also on the wall. And it also looked like it had been wiped away or wiped on. It had been smeared and stead of just blood droplets on the wall. He testified that based on his experience, there was an unusual amount of blood for fall and that the most severe injury he had seen from fall was a broken neck. The blood under Kathleen's head had already clotted and started to harden. So detective Holland was asked, give his. Opinion on this scene? Yeah, he's from the homicide unit and they wanted to bring him in because they were little confused about what they are seeing, right? There's we have a call that a person fell down the stairs that there's been an accident yet. They're seeing a lot of blood and they're seeing blood in different places throughout the house which is calling it. They're calling the scene suspicious, right? So Holland says that he received a page approximately around three o'clock in the morning and the he was going to arrive at this death investigation. He said that the call he received came in as someone had fallen down the steps. But upon arrival detective Holland says, this does not look like an accident forming and immediate opinion. Detective Holland identified himself to Mr. Peterson and even shook his hand and explain to him that he was sorry for his loss, but that it appeared that the scene look suspicious and it needed to be processed. At trial detective Holland was asked was Michael helpful at that point? Did he answer your initial questions? Detective Holland said, no, no, he pretty much was very quiet. Kept to himself didn't say a whole lot. Now, police videotaped the scene as the officers found it, Michael Peterson's tennis shoes and socks by the foot of the body, white towels soaked red with blood from cathlene injury to the back of her head blood smears up the oak staircase and on the walls above detective hall and called for a crime scene analyst and expert and blood splatter who in turn told the detective. He felt strongly that this was a homicide for the next twenty hours officers meticulously photographed and documented what they now regarded as a crime scene. There was a small amount of blood outside on the walkway blood. Stains on the front door, the blood on the kitchen sink, a wine bottle and glasses on the counter every inch of the three acre property was combed. Luminol testing revealed bloody footprints leading from Kathleen Peterson's body into the laundry room, then going to the kitchen refrigerator and sink. Then moving to a wine glass cabinet which also had blood on it. The footprints mysteriously stopped at the cabinet. They just stopped. Yeah. Later at trial, the defense would challenge the cops on what they didn't do at the Petersen house. The police didn't tape off the area of the stairwell until three thirty four AM almost an hour after the call came in and by then it was too late. Peterson's lawyers criticized what they called sloppy police procedures. The blood in that area had been altered. The scene at the house had been contaminated example, Mike. Michael goes up to Kathleen with the police watching hugs her Todd takes him. The sun puts him on the couch where there's blood transfer, and then Todd says, can I get some soda in a glass and the police say sure. And he goes there. He goes Todd, walking around the kitchen with blood on his hands. So at trial, police would point out that they found blood in suspicious locations mainly in different areas of the kitchen and that these were red flags. However, as I stated, you can see, you can kind of see why there may have been blood in strange locations throughout the kitchen. And in my opinion, the blood in the kitchen area, for example, was a complete irrelevancy. Once you stab wish that there was contamination there in the kitchen with the police standing right by while they also did test to make sure that there there wasn't any cleaning products used in the. Into clean up any evidence. And there was none found later that day Dr Deborah ranch a path. Allah just with the office of the North Carolina medical examiner performed. An autopsy on Kathleen body. Toxicology results showed that Kathleen blood alcohol content was point zero, seven percent. The autopsy report concluded that Kathleen sustained a matrix of severe injuries, including a fracture of the thyroid neck cartilage and seven lacerations caused by a homicidal assault to the top. And back of her head consistent with blows from blunt object. The result of repeated blows with a light yet rigid weapon and had died from blood loss, ninety minutes to two hours after sustaining the injuries. They also found that she took a valium that night later. Michael Peterson's defense disputed this theory, according to their analysis, Kathleen skull had not been fractured by the blows nor. Was she brain damage, which was inconsistent with injuries, sustained in a beating death, forensic expert doctor Henry Lee hired by the defense testified that the blood splatter evidence was consistent with an accidental fall down the stairs. Police investigators concluded that the injuries were inconsistent with such an accident will get right back to the staircase right after this quick beer break. Introducing audible originals a new member benefit. Audible originals are exclusive audio titles created by celebrated storytellers from worlds as diverse as theater, journalism literature, and more every month. Audible members get one credit for any audio book plus to audible originals from changing selection that you can't get anywhere else. You also get access to audio, fitness and health workouts created exclusively. For audible, audible has the largest selection of audio books on the planet which lets you fill your fall with more stories like mine, hunter by John Douglas or paddle, your own canoe, but Nick Offerman. How about the man from the train by Bill James or born standing up by Steve Martin and a book that I just finished alligator candy by David? Kushner, plus your books are yours to keep with audible. 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Let's get into some reasons why the prosecution and law enforcement would believe that Michael Peterson had motive to kill his wife. Okay. So we have Durham county district attorney, James harden, junior and the prosecution attacked Peterson's credibility focusing on his alleged misreporting of his military service and what they described as Michael's secret life, and we will get into that in a bit. But first Michael's credibility during a campaign for mayor, Mike, Michael Peterson claimed he was awarded a silver star, a bronze star with valor and two purple hearts. He had all of these metals but said he did not have the documentation for them. He claimed he received one purple heart after being hit by shrapnel when another. Other soldier stepped on a landmine and the other when he was shot Peterson later admitted, his war injury was not the result of the shrapnel wound in Vietnam, but was the result of veer vehicle accident in Japan where he was stationed after the war as a military policeman. Okay. So he was military. He policeman he's hit by a car or he's in a car accident, and then he claims that you got a pro heart for that, but not for that, but for something else. Well, when he's running for mayor, he claims that he sustained big time big time wounds during the course of war. He was inflicted with shrapnel, and then he was also shot which is much bigger difference than being in a car accident. So we have a liar on our hands will not only then these are big lies. I mean, this is also guy that wrote three books about the Vietnam war, right? Right. Fictitious books, believe. But they centered around the Vietnam war. Will some articles refer to him as a war hero? I don't know if I would go are he's a wars Eero. Yeah, I mean, I mean, technically, I guess in my mind, anybody that serves overseas serves this great country is some form of hero. The problem I have here is he's elevating himself to a whole different level, and he was obviously not deserving of any of that credit that he was willing to take. I mean, we have, we have men and women that come home to their families in caskets, right? That received purple hearts that received some of the awards that he is claiming that he earned and he didn't. And like you said, a liar in these are big lies. Another motive for Kathleen murder would be a one point, five million dollar life insurance policy, the prosecution witness, Raymond. Young said that the Petersons were spending about one hundred thousand dollars a year more than they made during each during each of the three years before Kathleen Peterson's death. Young also testified that when Kathleen Peterson died, the Petersons were carrying more than one hundred forty two thousand dollars in credit card in credit line debt spread across twenty active accounts. Now, the defense objected to this unsuccessfully that Young's credit card information essentially a report of a report amounted to hearsay testimony. The defense also complained that young did not distinguish between different kinds of expenses such as reoccurring bills and discretionary purchases. During his analysis of Peterson's cashflow. The defense pointed out that young had counted checks written to buy stocks as expenses, but did. Didn't count the sale of those stocks as quote, normal income. The defense also questioned young about why he did not count for the thousands of dollars that flowed through Kathleen Peterson's accounts when Norton networks, her employer reimbursed her for business expenses using Young's own figures of the couple's assets, mortgage, liabilities, and credit card debt. The defense showed that the Peterson's had combine net worth of more than one point, four million dollars defense lawyer. Thomas mayor asked as they sat there that December weekend, even with your analysis. This couple was worth more than one point, four million dollars. Isn't that correct? That's right. Young replied. So again, the prosecution is trying to prove that they had some money issues and that would be the motive because then he could collect insurance check that kind of backfired on the prosecution. So their next theory for motive is going to be kind. Of dark secret. Yeah, this this theory would be the Kathleen murder was motivated by the discovery of Michael's secret life by Kathleen on the night of the murder. So the prosecutor believed that Kathleen stumbled upon something explosive on the Peterson's home computer downloaded images of naked men. There was to approximately two thousand of them. There were also liaisons outside of the marriage, a series of Email exchanges between Michael Peterson and local male prostitute. He had found through the internet that Kathleen did know about the other man introduced in trial was Brad from Raleigh. So he's two thousand downloaded naked pictures of dudes, correct pornography on his computer. That's a lot of twig berries. Well, this guy, Brad from Raleigh was a twenty year old Twenty-six-year-old. Excuse me, former soldier. After, and I think he went by the moniker top soldier. His website pick was a beefcake pose complete with dog tags according to the prosecutor by late summer, two thousand one, four months before Kathleen's death. Michael Peterson agreed to get with Brad for sex at Peterson's home, Brad on the stand said, we were to hook up, I believe on September. Fifth, two thousand one. The prosecutor asked and what was the price you quoted him. Brad said, I believed it was one hundred and fifty dollars per hour. But Brad told the court when the appointed day came around, he was tired and cancelled the prosecutor. So you just simply didn't contact him back at all. Brad stated. I don't think I contacted him that night. I have found out that I contacted him about twenty five days later to apologize for not showing up. The prosecutor asked after you contacted him to. Policies for not showing up. Did you have further communication with him, Brad? No, ma'am. Brad testified that he impede or Sohn had never met until they were in court together. For the prosecutor, the brand up episode was to show that the marriage was anything, but rock solid and the trail of Email messages that became the quote trigger that the state talked about. I wanna throw out something strange. The notice during the documentary, one Brad is very charming on the stand telling jokes, these smart. Yeah. And in a good looking guy. And at some point, Michael Peterson's daughters are listening to testimony and one of the daughters kind of glowing, and the way a girl would be listening to attractive guy talk and be charming. You know, she's gonna of in smitten by him, them exe- sense. Then. Then then he says something to basically remind the courtroom that he's a gay man and her face like shrivels up. Well, I hate to say this, but it's Durham North Carolina. This is tough for some people in the audience too. Identify with, let's say, let's continue on with with some of the things that Brad said. What do I mean by that? I mean exactly what I said. It's durum North Carolina. This testimony, the thought of bisexual, married man, going outside of his marriage is going to be tough for people in that audience to identify with. Now, the defense was asked was that in unusual occurrence for you to have or plan to have sexual relations with with married men? Right? Brad stated to the contrary, married men are in the majority of most of the clients that I saw when I was an escort the defense with regards to the kinds of men that you tended to have escort relationships with. Can you give us some indication as to their professions, for example, Brandt answered. Sure. Usually they are professionals because my fees are quite high. I saw doctors, attorneys and one judge. The judge says, not this judge right, and it was noted. It was noted in the court transcripts. The defense then asked, did a number of the men, the married men that you had sexual relations with have wives that knew they were by sexual Brad stated. I believe most of them did from my experience. Yeah. The defense asked in your experience, was it unusual for a wife Mary to a by sexual man to know that he was by sexual Brad's answer was not at all the defense asked, was it unusual for a bisexual, man using your services to be in a happy marriage? Brad answered, not at all. Most of the men who would see me would have their time with me and then go back to their happy healthy laws. It's not unusual to be loved by any wound, the defense ash. Was there any kind of person. Relationship involved between you and Michael Peterson, Brad stated? No, sir. I believe in one of the emails, it was very explicit that there would be no emotions involved, no personal relationships involved and it would be strictly physical? Yeah. I mean, I think he also stated he loved his wife and they had a really good marriage. You're you're exactly right. The defense asked, did Michael Peterson ever do or say anything either on the phone or by Email to indicate that he was not in love with Kathleen Peterson, Brad answered to the contrary in his emails. Unlike most of my clients, he indicated that he had a great relationship. Most clients don't want to say anything about their relationship. He said he had a warm relationship with his wife and nothing would ever destroy that. The defense showed the jury Peterson's own words and an Email to Brad, which stated, quote, I am married very happily, married with a dynamite wife. Yeah, the prosecution alleged Kathleen would have been infuriated by learning that her husband was having an extramarital relationship, not with another woman, but a man, their statement that once she learned this information that an argument ensued and then a homicide occurred. The defense argued that Kathleen accepted Michael's bisexuality and that the marriage was very happy. A position supported by Michael, Kathleen children, and other friends and associates. Now we do know that Caitlyn. So Caitlyn is technically Kathleen's daughter from her first marriage. Yeah, Caitlyn stopped supporting Michael Peterson win. This information was too close disclosed. So let's jump back to the children showy. We have children of Michael Peterson from his first marriage. That's Clayton and Todd, his two sons and they support him correct. And then we. Have children of George and Elizabeth Ratliff who are both deceased but were raised by Michael Peterson, this is Margaret and Martha. Yeah, they both support him as well. Correct. Then we have the daughter of Kathleen Peterson, Caitlin atwater. She initially proclaimed Michael's innocence and publicly supported him. But after learning of Peterson's bisexuality and after reading her mother's autopsy report rush. She broke off from the rest of the family. This motive is kind of hard to decide of. It could even work as a motive. 'cause you don't know if his wife knew about his bisexual. Yeah, I agree captain for me kind of like, you know, I fancy myself pretty open minded dude, and for me, it really just kind of put me at the top of the fence where I could see one side and see the other side and mainly practically agree with both sides. You know, I think what they did. Here is I think the prosecution made a strong case that this could be a motive. I think the defense did a good job of stating, maybe this is no motive at all right? Because if she knew and she and that was the arrangement that their marriage tad where and even Brad, the escort said that he felt that most of his clients were mainly heterosexual with some homosexual tendencies. And so it was just kind of maybe a percentage while they're eighty percent straight twenty percent gay or whatever it is. And and so if that's the arrangement that their marriage had than, who are we to say how they should live their life or or how they should conduct their marriage right that that's on them. But the issue here then becomes as far as the children go. Did you have any knowledge of this? You? Did you even have thought process that. Your father was doing this, so that'd be so I can see why this children are supportive. I can see why they would not be in. 'cause I also think it if you didn't know and now they're saying that your your mom new, but you had no proof while again, we have him lying about his war record. Now he was not, you know, not lying, but not telling the full truces children about sexuality. So I don't question that so much because I don't know that I don't know that if I had children, if I would share, you know the things that I meant to with them. I don't think there's a weird conversation. Have this podcast doors. I. That that they might feel like it was another way of being lied to as one I'm saying? No, I agree with that. But what I'm stating is the I don't find the children not knowing to be weird. Right? You know, I, I don't, of course if they knew that, obviously I'd be convinced that there was no problem with this thing, but if they didn't know, that doesn't to me suggests that there is a problem. Actually. Furthermore, you know, somebody was talking to to said, hey, so really the sole question regarding the state's case is did Kathleen, no, or did she not know? And I said, well, I see what you're saying there, but however it's not necessarily did she know or did she not know it's what she okay with it. If she did know Ryan, they're trying to present a mode of the problem with this is especially in a marriage. There could be thousands of different motives that we would never know because there could be hundreds of conversations that they. Had and private that nobody knew about sir mean. So it's like they're just trying to stab a motive. And like you said, they do a good job. Prosecution does a presenting it. The fence does a great job of deflecting and so yet kind of put you on the the center of the post. Yeah, and I think what they did was they both present their side and then it's left up to the members of the jury to figure out what side they fall to and what they believe actually occurred. One thing though that I do question here is his defense was very good. I thought it was a good team, smart group of people. They questioned a lot of things. They defended him very well. The thing that that did not happen and I know it doesn't exist because I know that they were smart enough that they would have presented. This at trial was they couldn't prove that Kathleen Peterson knew that Michael was bisexual, right? They. Couldn't prove the Kathleen was okay with it. So you know that a conversation took place between the head defense attorney and Michael Peterson that there's a sit down closed room where he says to Michael Michael, is there anything anywhere any proof that you can show me the Kathleen new and that she was okay with it? Or was there any proof that you can show me that she had least knew that gets us over one speed bump? Right. And so that didn't exist. And when you have Michael Peterson, who talks about this, he's a little vague too. Don't you when you agree, he says, yes, she knew. Did you guys talk about? No. Wasn't really something we spoke about, but I didn't. But this is this is a tricky thing because these conversations behind closed doors and could it be a situation where she's like, okay, I understand that. I mean, they should have been, you know, the develop into a relationship and he says to her, I have the side of me. That I like to explore, and she might have said, that's fine with me. Don't wanna hear about it. Right? You know, as long as you're not being with other women, right? That could have been the who knows. I mean, and that's. I don't know. It's it's it's very tricky. And again, though I stick by what I said, where it's less important than Kathleen new. It's more important that she was either okay with it or not away with Willis, start with idea of should this even bitten been allowed in the courtroom. And I believe the judge said later that he almost wishes that he would have just said, no, we can't talk about this. And the reason why was because he was frayed you know, it's in the south, would it be present prejudicial basically? Right. Basically, if you bring up that this guy's is bisexual there just be one or two people on the jury. That would just. Find him guilty because he's by sexual, right? And I think for me, if I were the judge or the prosecutor Myo argument that it would would be in the trial, and I understand don't send a weird Email that I've claiming that the judge and prosecutor worked together. I understand the way the system works. But what I mean by this is it's a part of the state's case, right? The state's case is that Kathleen Peterson that night stumbled upon information she found on his computer, this suggested that this kind of activity was going on. Therefore she confronted him about that. That night, they got into an argument and he beat her to death, right? And the state's case yet. But that's because the other motive wasn't going to stick so well. So when they found this, I think it was more about less make this part of our motive. So we can bring up the fact that he has almost stub. Oh life. And I because I do think that shows something if she didn't know about the double life nece kids to know about the double life and it seemed like newbie. Nobody knew about the double life than it's like, then what is he capable of you don't know because you don't really know the real person. I agree with that. But what I mean by goes with the state's cases, if you follow the timeline of events of known events that night now what Michael Peterson says, but what others state right is that Kathleen Peterson was using his computer that night to receive information from her work. We know that from her co worker who says, I overheard Kathleen asking him for his Email address and we have the password being accessing the computer. And so the state's case would be this was a computer that she didn't often use regularly use, maybe used it for the first time who knows and discovers this information there that night and win. Confronting Michael about it turns into an argument that leads to him killing her. Yeah. I think the other thing too about this is we have some kind of record that he's trying to use software to clean the computer. So what did the prosecution fine. What to the investigation fine on his computer afterwards. And was that supposed to been cleaned off of its computer and wasn't? Well, there was, I mean, there was at least all of those point of graphic pictures of men, right? Where they were, they supposed to be wiped away. I don't. I don't know what his intent. I don't know who we can't say for certain who, who applied that computer scrubbing software to the shooter. We can't say for certain, all we can say is that it was used. And so if we can't say, who is using it, it's tough to gauge the intentions of the user. I think the thing here too, is that. Sometimes when people hear the wife finds out that he's having affairs with men and they start thinking will, why would he kill her? Because of that it's like folk, no, because that's going to lead to divorce that could lead to separation that could lead to. I mean, he's not making a lot of money or even he just lost it in the heat of the moment, right? And the thing that I for embarrassment, maybe he didn't want people to know. The thing that's interesting here though I differ from you where I think that the the, this secret life that the state claims he was hiding from his wife. I think that if we're going to look at the state's case as a cake, I look at that to be the cake and that the money motive would have just been icing on the cake. It would have been another another example. Another reason why. But what's interesting is I didn't see anybody point this out during the Porsche. Of the trial that I was able to view was the defense. I think I would have attacked at as the defense because on one end you're saying, wait, one motive is money. Well, then that would be premeditated. That would be me sitting here, realizing we have money problems. How can I fix it? All? I'm going to kill my wife, right? The other is she finds my gay pornography that I'm a big huge fan of that. I'm I'm, I'm enjoying that while she's at work. I guess I'm going to edit that out of the show and and then she, she confronts me, we get into some kind of argument and then I kill my wife. Well, that's two different things that's ones in in the heat of the moment. I lost it and I killed my wife. The other is premeditated, right? So can one the the state never Brill builds a bridge to connect the. I'm sitting at home planning on how I'm going to kill her to. I lost it a ruptured one night and killed her. Ones with a Boehner ones without there you go. Well, that is a good segue into the possible murder weapon. The prosecution said that the murder was most likely committed with a custom made fireplace poker called a blow poke. It had been a gift to the Peterson's from Kathleen's sister, but was missing quote, unquote missing from the house at the time of the murder investigation. And Kathleen sister actually gave a bunch of people in their family. These blow pokers. Yeah, I think she gave it to her her parents into some other people in the family, her sister, Candice, Kathleen Peters, sister, Candace when asked about the blow pokes that, yes, it was always in the kitchen stating that she had used it and had observed Kathleen using it, and it was always located in the kitchen while it's a big house. So we have a kitchen that's connected to little room and there's a little fireplace. By that. So anytime you see like home video footage, you'll see a little kitchen pan and you'll see a fireplace in normally it was sitting there and you actually see at one point in the documentary, one of the daughters going back through old like Christmas footage to try to find out when the poker disappeared. Well, you had the prosecution, which would tell the jury that you've got to realize he meaning Michael Peterson had several hours that he could clean up and in the prosecution's opinion, they think that that is wind. The blow Polk was removed from the property. And the problem with that as the defense would later point out, the defense claim that the blow Polk was later found inside the home covered with cobwebs and dead insects, implying that police. Everyone else had just simply overlooked at it was not hidden said the defense because it was never used. It was not the murder weapon. In the first place, forensic tests revealed that the blow poke had been untouched and Unruh moved. I'm sorry. Unmoved for far too long to have been used in the murder. Yeah. And people ask, well, how did they not find this? Well, they had garage, like in the basement. Part of the basement had a garage door and he had some car he is working on and it was kind of hidden in the corner, like not hidden on person purpose, but probably what happened was who's messing with the fire. One day was working on his car, went downstairs working on his car and put the poker beside it. And then because there's other tools and other pipes and stuff around cops us probably just didn't see it. They probably also didn't look that. I also think that it least that night in the following day, they didn't realize that that would be a potential murder weapon. Right? You know. So even if you salt that night or the next day, you don't care because it's not of significance at that time. I actually think that what. Probably happened is it was an item that went unused up near the fireplace itself. And at some point, you know, that's where things in the basement and the garage. That's how they get their. Sometimes they're things that are just not used and you go, oh, put it out in the garage. I'll put it out in the basement and like you said, things start to pile up and collect around it, and then it may appear years later to have been hidden. But rather it's just simply placed there while the pointed poker in was missing and the round in that the poker would go into was banned. And so I wonder if he's working on this old card has old Jack and he's not able to Jack it up with crowbar if he went and grabbed this poker to use it Jack up the car, that's an interesting thought they, they don't really present any of that though at at try this, the other home with Baio Pearson, look, we all like to drink good time. The problem is that makes your memory. Do you the blur. That's interesting. You say that I was just going to ask you, do you find him to be a forgetful person or is he conveniently forgetful? No, I think he's he was getting older and I think he didn't remember about to stuff like he's when they find the poker. He's even like, I don't know. I don't know why would be there. Right. How got there, and it's like maybe it was from you may from one of your kids. That's the other. Here's the other issue here. We don't have little kids. We have adult adults, so they're doing a lot of stuff in the, you know, when you're a kid, if there was something there was a hammer misplaced in the garage and you're five years old, it's from your father was misplacing. The hammer chances are you weren't messing with the hammer. But when you're twenty years old and you're messing with cars and who knows what happened? One of them might use it, then they forget. I just think he's also he's getting up there in age and he. He has some effects from that. So I think a couple things here regarding his memory. I, I'm gonna go back to the wine drinking. I actually think Michael Peterson, probably liked to indulge in quite a bit of wine drinking. I think him saying that they had two bottles of wine that night might have been conservative. I think he might have had two bottles of wine that night and she helped drink some other bottles of wine William. Isn't that what you do? I mean, if you're hanging out with your wife or your hanging out with some friends like you don't count drinks, you just drink and talk and have a good time. Yeah. I mean, when your kid you count drinks when you're twenty you're going up to ten beers. Are I mean when you're a dull, you actually go less. I've only had six, you know, you had ten. You know what I mean? That's well, I think the a combination of things. One this guy has seen wartime, so there could be some PTSD from that. The of that. The very difficult wartime, I think, as well is there's probably been a history of nights consecutive nights of drinking wine or maybe even a lot of wine or alcohol. And once he puts on those fake medals got there probably way down a little bit. And he probably trips and falls a lot because of he's getting older. So I think a combination of those three things lens to him being forgetful, and maybe not so much conveniently forgetful, right? The other vibe to, and I have no proof of this. This is just a gut feeling that I got when watching the his children and the way that they spoke about their household and the family. And one thing I do wanna point out here is it seemed to be a very close family even though it was a bit of a patchwork quilt, it was a close family to the extent that I hear his children. Michael's children referring to Kathleen as mom. Over and over again. And I also hear her daughter referred to Michael as dad, and so the the two adopted kids, they call their mom, the real mom, their birth mom, they call Kathleen, their mom, mom? Yeah, they took away the whole step mom or whatever. Right? And I think and who knows there was a conversation about it, but you know that that's also them showing respect to her. She is made them part of her life. She treated them xactly like daughters. We're going to treat you just like a mother. I think that and also you got, he's very well rounded, smart intelligent kids. They seem well adjusted. Oh yeah. Yeah. And they seem well adjusted and they have all this craziness going on with their lives. You know what I mean? Like you would expect them to be like, okay, maybe maybe our mom died accidentally may be our father murdered her. We're not for sure you'd think that the hinges hinges would come off and they're not. And that's a sign of. How you were raised and how you raise is not always the lessons that you were taught. It's the actions that you were shown, right? So meaning. And then again, every friend, every family member says they had a loving marriage that that means something. All right, captain we have so much stuff to get to do. We have enough time you think to get into some of the blood experts that testified during the trial? Yes. Okay. So the state's blood splatter expert told the jury that he was certain. Kathleen Peterson was beaten to death because the droplet patterns of blood and spray on the steps and walls of the stairwell were just what he expected to see if you imagine a weapon rising striking rising casting off blood up the wall with each new blow, right and blood found on the inside lower leg of Michael Peterson shorts confirms his theory. He said he saw evidence of an attempt to clean up some of the blood on the stairwell. Of course, his his testimony was much longer and lengthier than this. That's the team, Nick simplified version. Yeah. Was also he's stating that she's hit with a blunt object. That's what's creating these marks on Kathleen head, but there is no cast off. Like if she was hit in the head, there'd be a cast off. Meaning blood is coming from an object. There'd be a cast off normally that would hit the ceiling okay, from her hype. So he he saying that there was cast off on the wall with each new blow in that he expected to see yen during his testimony. He's going to show you a bunch of experiments. He did to try to get these to recreate these patterns. And so it's basically that that she gets hit one time, Kathleen then falls, and then all the rest of the hits would happen. Why she's on the ground, making the spot from the inside of his shorts. Makes sense. Right? Because he would be on top of her or standing over her, and that would be the reason there'd be no cast off on ceiling. So it's almost like he has this picture. Now he has to figure out how we got there. Right, right. That makes sense. Well, in a way though the defense is going to have to do the same thing or try to do the same thing when they put on a celebrity expert witness doctor, Henry Lee, I'm sure most of our listeners are familiar with Henry Lee. He's been in several of the more well-known cases including he was involved in the OJ Simpson case. Now, Lee explain that the blood splatter he explained it in a theatrical manner. He swigged a small amount of catch up, took a deep breath and then spit it out replicating. He said, the victim of the fall, coughing up blood staggering about the stairwell. Yeah, the result, he says, blood splatter up the wall of the staircase and on the inside leg of Peterson shorts as he tended to her Dr. Actor Lee told the jury that the copious blood splatter on the back staircase convinced him, Kathleen Peterson, had died of fall, not a beating. So if you're trying to forgive me, if you're trying to picture this at home, what he's talking about is he saying she fell and Ashi is laying there. She's coughing up blood. She's breathing blood, and that is what is projecting that blood onto the wall behind her Ryan. They also believe at some point she tried to get up which would explain the blood that's on the bottom of her feet, but also explained like if she did try to get up and she slipped that her body would have moved. So she's more outside of the door, her head still inside the doorway again, once she's then continues to cough up blood at that position would account for some of the rest of the blood splatter yet to help the jurors imagine how a woman would fall and end up like this that they're indicate. Getting, you know, keep in mind. Kathleen was in flip flops. She was Medicated with valium. She might be tipsy with having drinking wine that night on not might be tipsy. I mean, one of the things that people really should look up is the facts. Valium the of valium are pretty much the same effect as far as alcohol is concerned. But once she mixed both of them times it by ten, let's say, right. So one of the major affects is dizziness a loss of balance. And so you're talking about a very odd staircase. I l most argued that that staircase ING should been made where you just go into a little square room turn to the right, and then you go up the steps. So there would be no initial stares directly in front of you. So the stairs. Basically if you walked into this into this stairwell, it's almost like a mini spiral staircase. It looks like air case like a closet that you're walking. Into almost right. And you take a couple of steps and then you turn to your right, and you go up the rest of the stairs and the stairs to you're right. There's quite a bit more stairs there than what would be at the bottom straight ahead of you now, like the captain pointed out, you're right. It would have been a safer situation to just have that be a flat landing there as if you are walking into a closet, turn to your right and then go directly up the stairs without turning. So the other thing too is this would be, would you call this like you know how they have some older homes. They have like servant quarters, and and you know, that's probably what is probably what this is a second staircase for people to work behind the scenes of a big house like that. It's been referred to as a mansion. I, I think you could call it that. I think that's somewhat of anger description. It's a big house. But here here's what's weird though too, because you have this weird landing on the bottom and you have these steps. That actually curve whether you fall by accident, whether you fall by game push whether you fall because you got pulled down whether you fall because you got hit by something. Once you're in that area, you're on multiple levels that aren't level, and so by trying to get up by trying to move, you're then going to be pushed. If there's any blood, you're going to be pushing a lot of blood around. There's it's very possible that you could make a big mess in this small area because of the the floor, not being level, not only that the turn and how narrow this space is on a normal staircase. You might not be able to spit or cough that much blood onto the wall because you would be more centered. You would be more away from the wall. Right? And it's man. When you see the scene the the pictures of the senior lot blood, it's it's it's enough blood to the point where you're like, did he beat her head against the wall for an hour like. I mean, the blood is. I mean, it's traumatic to see it in. I can see how the state and how the investigators jumped to. This is a murder. This is not an accident. There's too much blood here. I mean, when you see the Nishel photos, the first thought is this is not accident right? But then then it becomes odd too, because you, you have her feet covered and blood, and you just wonder if she tried to get up again, that does not blood on her feet does not determine whether who's hit post or she fell well, and the state is going to try to point out to the jurors the a woman and flip flops Medicated with valium had been drinking. All of this could have been a combination that might have led to a fall and the bl- the body motion expert showed and an animation that Kathleen climbs the stairs to go to bed. She suddenly loses. Her balance falls backwards from the fourth step, hitting her head on the molding, cutting open, a nasty wound to her scalp. Yeah, which is roughly V-shape and she stunned she tries to get up, but she slips in a puddle of her own blood falls again. And then now she's doomed to lay there and bleed out where we also have impact points on the molding and the staircase. And one of the impact points they basically, it's, it's science the, you know. No, I don't remember what he was called bio. I don't remember, but we're with you captain. The what he did was they basically made a model of her, her height her way. If she fell at this point that she would hit that frame, the Langley hit here, right? To hear about this height. We have matching impact points based off the sides they did. So. I don't know. I mean, they try to discredit this guy thought he was very credible. But I think the problem with this guy is the prosecution should push more. Okay. This is true if she fell from the third step, the fourth step or whatever. But all these things are also true if she got pulled down at that step career pushed down at that step. So again, I believe I think what he is stating happen or is most likely what happened. Okay. But. I think that doesn't prove if somebody helped her or not. And that doesn't prove other theories, whether those are true or not, either well into those later. A couple of things though here regarding what you just stated was, you know, I didn't count the stairs. The number of steps it's fifteen to twenty is what I think he says and the nine one one call. But so let's let's use that as as the general math, right? Let's say it's fifteen steps. What what I think you point out here which is interesting. Is that the prosecution, once they hear, hey, she felt this guy says she fell from the fourth step in. This is how where she hit. And this explains her injuries where the prosecution failed then was they said they could have said while that's one out of fifteen steps mathematically, it's less likely that she fell from that exact step than any of these. You know what I mean? Right? She she likely could have fallen from another step and therefore those impact points. I don't match up with your theory. The other thing that you pointed out that's interesting is they never bothered to present the idea that maybe she was pushed down the stairs right? That she was at a different location pushed down the stairs they stuck with the. She was struck with the blunt object on the today and the blunt object. This cover that real quick. The issue with her being struck with a blunt object is going to be that there is no brain swelling. There's no brain, there's no fractures fractures to the skull, and there's no brain bruising either which sometimes you won't get a fracture, but you have a brain Bruce underneath and none of those three things happen. So you'd have to. Basically hit so lightly that you don't cause any fracture? Yes. So for those of you that have not seen the staircase or are unfamiliar with this case picture this most people are familiar with a fire poker that you would have at any normal fireplace. Okay. Never had a hollowed one though. So that's the only that's really the only difference between a blow poke in a fire poker is that it's hollowed so that when you poke at the fire, you can blow adding air that would then spread the sparks or spread the fire inside your fireplace, right? It's like stoking the fire. So the only difference here is that this item would be we can assume that it's lighter than a traditional fire poker because it's hollow right, but it still has that jagged engine that end and what the captain's trying to point out is the thing that I can't get over is if somebody is. Attacking somebody with a weapon or an object shaped like that. That how in the hell are you going to be able to strike the skin of the skull with enough force to create these lacerations in these are big gash. -is but be precise enough or or get, I guess, lucky enough the in the process of creating those lacerations Yudin fractured the skull. It seems inconceivable to me then right? But then everybody believes that she had to be clawed with something maybe fingernails or maybe she was clawed by the the poker in. Right? Because he has. He's lacerations again, they're getting up in age, your your skin becomes thinner. It is possible that you could bomb into something hard enough that would not create brain bleed brain bruising or. Or a fracture, but still puncture the skin and therefore creating a massive amount of blood. And basically the defense is not going to deny that these injuries occurred that these lacerations to her scalp occurred, but they're basically their answer is stating, look. She had several points of impact where her head would have impacted with something else, and it didn't necessarily tear the skin open. Some of that is the the skin splitting hit. And you know, once you hit upon impact the, it's a cut as well as the skin splitting yet created these strange shaped Lhasa, racial, honors her, the back of her head right? The now g there were using as if you take like a watermelon are pretty much any melon and he drop it on the ground. It's not gonna. Just Brad half is not going to just have one point of impact. It's actually split. So is it possible that she hit her head against the. Frame the framing of the wall and that 'cause one split where possibly to splits. I mean, it's it's possible. I mean, and that's what the one eyewitness that did the bio, whatever was called tests that that they prove that it was possible. Some circumstantial evidence captain the officers called by the prosecution noted that the husband, Michael Peterson, his sneakers and bloody socks. They noted this and stated that this is odds because Michael was barefoot upon paramedics of rival to the home and they asked the question, how did one of those same sneakers leave a bloody footprint on the back side of his dead, wife's sweatpants, the side facing the floor. There was testimony from other prosecution witnesses. That Peterson had tried to clean a large stain of blood. Off of the front of his shorts. Now, some other details on the kitchen counter police Saul on the stay with this short. So I I get his shorts were soaked in blood. Right. And so again, was he trying to clean off a section or was he wiping his hands off because his hands were covered in blood to. So that's where it gets tricky with some of the stuff. It's like there's a lot of blood if he was trying to help her if he picked her up up and got blood Oliver's hands than he tried to wipe that on his pants, wiping that on your pains is going to look the same as if you're trying to wipe it off your pants. Some other details on the kitchen counter police, all a bottle of wine and two glasses neatly arranged implying. Perhaps the couple had passed a relaxing evening at home sipping wine together. The problem with that cozy image though, according to the prosecution is that his dead wife's fingerprints weren't. On either glass. The prosecutor argued that Peterson, had prominently set out the bottle and classes to suggest that Kathleen had too much to drink and had tumbled down the stairs inebriated the defense presented the idea that the police may have had it in for the husband. Once they realized he was the same. Michael Peterson, taking regular potshots at them in his new space paper column, accusing them of only solving a small fraction of crimes and not getting a handle on drug trafficking in the city. And maybe this was payback. Make sure you get a true crime, garage dot com. Good. Our store page, the team Knicks shirts on sale because of his birthday and honor of Knicks birthday. He's twenty one and a half. We celebrated his half birthday. Also new team captain v necks there in the store. Check those out for all of our old episodes. Check us out on Stitcher, and they're all free from show one to now you can find them on Stitcher for free. Plus we have our great show off the record on Stitcher premium. Hold on. Real quick are are off. The record shows are supposed to be twenty thirty minutes long. Something like that. And lately we've been putting out our long episodes. So if you're looking for some more grudge. And your life get off the record. Join us back here in the garage tomorrow for part two of the staircase until then be good become and don't let.

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