Based on a true story, HBO Max’s crime series ‘The Staircase’ revolves around the life of Michael Peterson, who gets convicted of killing his wife Kathleen Peterson. In reality, as the show depicts, Kathleen’s dead body was found at the bottom of a staircase in the couple’s house. Even though Michael claimed that Kathleen died upon falling down the stairs, he was eventually found guilty of killing his wife. Since the show depicts Michael’s prison life and house arrest in detail, one must be wondering about the duration of the same. On that note, let us share the answers!
How Long Was Michael Peterson in Prison?
In December 2001, Michael Peterson was indicted for Kathleen’s murder. Soon, he surrendered himself to the police while asserting his innocence. He was eventually bailed out to await trial. Michael’s trial lasted from July 2003 to October 2003. On October 10, 2003, the jury found Michael guilty of killing Kathleen. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder. Michael was imprisoned at Nash Correctional Institution, located in Nash County, North Carolina. Even though Michael and his attorney appealed the verdict to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the court rejected the same in 2006.
Since the rejection ruling wasn’t unanimous, Michael’s defense appealed the verdict to the North Carolina Supreme Court, only for the court to affirm the decision of the appellate court. On December 16, 2011, Michael was released from prison on a $300,000 bail and was placed under house arrest with a tracking anklet. He was granted the bail when the court found that SBI blood-spatter analyst Duane Deaver gave “materially misleading” and “deliberately false” testimony during the original trial, which influenced the jurors to reach the verdict back in 2003. Michael was also granted a new trial. However, he entered an Alford plea in February 2017, before the second trial.
When Michael entered an Alford plea, he was sentenced to prison time already served, which enabled him to walk away from the court as a free man. He was imprisoned for around 8 years, 2 months, and 7 days, including the day of his release. In other words, he was imprisoned for around 2990 days.
How Long Was Michael Peterson Under House Arrest?
From the day of Michael’s release from prison, he was placed on house arrest with an ankle monitor. In July 2014, a Superior Court judge lifted the house arrest, which reportedly lasted for around 937 days. Christie Long, who was Durham County’s pretrial coordinator at the time, said that Michael cooperated with the restrictions during the years of house arrest without any violations. Michael’s attorney Kerry Sutton argued that her client had met all the conditions of his house arrest for more than 30 months to get qualified for increased freedom.