The Dateline episode ‘Down the Back Staircase’ investigates the 2001 murder of Kathleen Peterson and the conviction of her novelist husband Michael Peterson. Kathleen was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their Durham, North Carolina mansion. Her husband Michael Peterson, the one and only suspect, has always maintained that his wife’s death was accident but in 2003 he was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
In February 2017, after entering an Alford plea to a charge of voluntary manslaughter, Michael Peterson was freed from jail after serving more than 7 years (89 months) in prison. After his release, Peterson said taking the plea “is the most difficult thing I’ve done in my life.” He also mentioned that he was advised by his son who told him “You’ll never win. Pick up your chips and go home.” Michael Peterson still proclaims his innocence and as WRAL points out, he still wears a wedding ring. Peterson will be interviewed by Dennis Murphy on Dateline which airs Fridays at 9pm on NBC.