HBO Max’s crime series ‘The Staircase’ follows the death of Kathleen Peterson, who dies under mysterious circumstances. Although Kathleen’s husband, Michael Peterson, claims that his wife died falling down a staircase, DA Jim Hardin and ADA Freda Black are convinced that Michael is the murderer. After the autopsy, they seek the assistance of blood-spatter analyst Duane Deaver to confirm their theories.
After recreating the crime scene using mannequins and other materials, Deaver concludes that Kathleen is beaten to death. As Deaver’s testimony plays a significant part in Michael’s trial, the viewers must be intrigued to know more about the real-life connections of the character. Well, here’s what you need to know about the same!
Is Duane Deaver Based on a Real Analyst?
Yes, Duane Deaver is based on a real analyst. At the time of Kathleen’s death, Deaver was an agent in North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). He was presented as an expert witness in Michael’s trial to explain his findings as a blood-spatter analyst upon scrutinizing the blood pattern found at the crime scene. In the trial, he testified that the blood pattern was consistent with Kathleen Peterson having been beaten to death rather than Michael’s claim that she fell down the stairs. He also added that the bloodstain found in Michael’s shorts further indicates that Kathleen’s death was the result of an assault.
At the time of the trial, Deaver was reportedly an 18-year veteran at the SBI, which seemingly enhanced his credibility. As per reports, the jurors considered Deaver’s findings an essential part of their deliberations and subsequent verdict, which found Peterson guilty of the murder of Kathleen. In 2010, Greg Taylor, who served nearly 17 years in prison after getting convicted for killing a woman, was exonerated when SBI found out that Deaver reportedly withheld his findings/results concerning the case.
The Bureau investigated the cases of Deaver extensively, and he was eventually fired from SBI in 2011. Deaver’s actions during Greg Taylor’s trial harmed the credibility of his testimony in Michael’s trial. According to SBI, the analyst had exaggerated his expertise and training on the subject while providing testimony in Michael’s trial. The analyst’s claim that he had written 200 reports for the Bureau during the trial was reportedly dismissed by then-SBI Assistant Director Eric Hooks, who revealed that Deaver wrote only 47 reports in his 24-year career.
In 2011, Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson, who presided over Michael’s trial in 2003, granted another trial for Michael. In the same year, he was released on $300,000 bail and placed under house arrest. In 2017, Michael Peterson entered an Alford plea and got sentenced for time already served.
Where is Duane Deaver Now?
After getting fired from SBI, Duane Deaver fought against the Bureau on the grounds of “wrongful termination.” North Carolina Human Resources Commission found that Deaver should have been demoted with his pay lowered by 10% rather than being fired and ruled the Bureau to pay the analyst 34 months of back pay. The Commission also added that the Bureau was right to fire him with regard to Michael’s case in 2013.
Years later, Deaver, along with a colleague, was sued by Dr. Kirk Alan Turner, who got acquitted from a murder charge, for trying to match their scientific results to a theory. SBI later settled the lawsuit. After his time at SBI, Deaver apparently left North Carolina for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As per sources, he initially worked as a manager in Aramark Healthcare and eventually became Director of Environmental Services of the same company. In 2015, he reportedly left Aramark and joined a facility service company as Director of Operations in San Antonio, Texas. He has chosen to keep his personal life private.