Michael Iver Peterson (born October 23, 1943) is an American novelist who was found guilty in 2003 of killing his second wife Kathleen Peterson on December 9, 2001. Peterson was granted a second trial after a judge found that a key prosecution witness had given false testimony. Peterson pleaded guilty to manslaughter under the Alford statute in 2017. He was released after serving out his term.
The Staircase, a documentary miniseries about Peterson’s case, began filming shortly after his arrest in 2001 and followed his story until his eventual Alford plea in 2017. In 2019, he wrote Behind the Staircase, a self-published book on his life since his wife’s death. This murder case is also the focus of The Staircase, a 2022 miniseries starring Colin Firth and Toni Collette.
Peterson, Michael Iver
Peterson became a writer for a local newspaper, penning an opinion piece, in addition to his employment as an author. His subsequent writings, however, were less popular, and he divorced. Kathleen Hunt Atwater, a lifelong neighbor, and divorced Nortel executive fell in love with him in 1997.
Is Michael Peterson Straight or Gay?
Michael Peterson identifies as a bisexual man. Detectives discovered pornographic photographs of guys on Michael’s computer, revealing his sexual orientation. They also discovered Michael’s e-mails purportedly requesting sex from a male escort.
Michael claims that he first recognized he was bisexual when he was smitten by his baseball team’s shortstop. “It was a part of who I was attempting to keep hidden.” […] And I realized at the moment that I had a strong attraction to both women and men,” he said in Jean-docuseries Xavier’s “The Staircase.”
Michael concealed his sexual orientation when he entered the military and continued to do so until Kathleen’s death. Kathleen was aware of his bisexuality and “comfortable” with it, he stated in the docuseries. However, the prosecution’s case against him was heavily influenced by his sexual orientation.
“According to those who know [Kathleen] well, she would have been furious to learn that her husband, whom she truly loved, was bisexual and having an extramarital relationship not with another woman but even with a man, which would have been humiliating and embarrassing to her,” said then-ADA Freda Black.
“We suspect there was an argument and a homicide when she learned this information,” Freda continued. As a result, the prosecution viewed Michael’s bisexuality as a factor in Kathleen’s assassination.
According to Michael, the fact that he is bisexual had an impact on the murder jury. “Of sure [Michael’s bisexuality] had an effect!” Why does this imply homicide? In the same docuseries, he said, “It made no sense at all, but it went, there it is in the juror’s head.” Judge Orlando Hudson, who presided over Michael’s murder trial, agreed that testimony about his sexual orientation was likely detrimental.
“If the trial had been in 2017, there are some things I would have modified.” “All of the homosexual material, regardless of how it was used, would have been overly detrimental to the defense,” Hudson stated.
The murder trial has used and treated Michael’s bisexuality in a variety of ways since his disclosure. While the prosecution saw it as the “trigger” for the murder, Michael believed it was unfairly exploited against him during the trial, which resulted in his conviction for Kathleen’s murder. He entered an Alford plea to a charge of voluntary manslaughter in 2017 and received a sentence of time served plus no extra prison time.