|Directed by||Jean-Xavier de Lestrade|
|Distributed by||Maha Productions|
|Running time||360 min (8 parts)|
Soupçons (also known as Death on the Staircase and The Staircase) is a 2004 French television miniseries by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade documenting the trial of Michael Peterson, accused of murdering his wife.
Following from de Lestrade's Oscar-winning Murder on a Sunday Morning, filming began soon after Peterson's indictment. Camera crews were given access to the accused's extended family, the defense attorneys, and to the court room. The film features a brief appearance by Mike Nifong, a future figure in the Duke lacrosse case, working with the team prosecuting Peterson.
An abbreviated version of the film was broadcast on the American news show Dateline NBC.
The BBC featured an interview with Lestrade in 2005.
In December 2001, Novelist Michael Peterson called to report that his wife Kathleen had fallen down a set of stairs and died. The authorities disbelieved Peterson's story that Kathleen had fallen while drunk and concluded instead that Peterson had bludgeoned her to death, most likely with a fireplace poker which was discovered missing from the house. Peterson was soon charged with murder and the film details the ensuing case from the point of view of Peterson and his defense team. During the trial it is discovered that while Peterson was living in Germany a family friend of his died from an intra-cerebral haemorrhage followed by the body falling down stairs after collapsing which resulted in similar head injuries. An investigation by German police and US military authorities concluded that the death was accidental and Peterson ended up adopting the woman's two daughters. The prosecution introduced this death into the trial as an incident giving Peterson the idea of how to "fake" Kathleen's accident.
Reviews for The Staircase were generally positive. The film received an "exceptional quality" rating (8.5 out of 10) from Documentary-Review.com based on 9 reviews.
In April 2012, it was revealed that Lestrade was working on a 120-minute sequel to The Staircase for French broadcaster Canal Plus, after Michael Peterson was released from jail, pending a retrial.
- Court TV coverage
- StoryVille "BBC interview with de Lestrade, January 6, 2005.".
- "Reviews". Documentary-Review.com. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
- April 3, 2012 by Adam Benzine (April 3, 2012). "De Lestrade making sequel to "The Staircase"". Realscreen. Retrieved April 5, 2012.
- Salon review
- Trial techniques
- Official French website of the series
- Soupçons at the Internet Movie Database
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