CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WNCN) - Defense attorney David Rudolf will be speaking about his role in "The Staircase" docuseries Thursday at the McGlohon Theater in Charlotte.
Rudolf, who practices law in Charlotte, represented author Michael Peterson after Peterson was accused of killing his wife, Kathleen Peterson, at the couple’s Durham home back in 2001. The subsequent murder case is chronicled in "The Staircase," a docuseries released on Netflix earlier this year.
Peterson was convicted of killing his wife in 2003. Rudolf says his client served eight years in prison, but was released on bond in 2011 after a judge was convinced that an investigator involved in the case committed perjury.
Peterson issued an Alford Plea in 2016. Rudolf explained that the plea allowed for Michael Peterson to maintain his innocence, but acknowledge that he was ready for the court proceedings to come to an end.
Rudolf says he was contacted by the French filmmakers shortly after the Peterson case began. The documentary team followed the case through its entire 15 year duration.
“I didn’t know it would chronicle my aging process,” Rudolf joked in an interview with WBTV Tuesday.
The attorney says he found out in April of this year that the documentary would be released as a series on Netflix. He originally thought the program would be much shorter.
“I assumed it was gonna be one of these sort of two-hour documentaries that might be on HBO or something, but I had no idea what it was going to become,” explained Rudolf.
The defense attorney has received a lot of publicity since the release of "The Staircase." He says he has been invited to speak across the country and in several locations across Europe.
Rudolf says the film series has given him a new platform to speak about issues within the criminal justice system.
“Part of what’s happening is these documentaries are exposing people to things that we all who work in the system have known for years, but the general public probably didn’t know,” said Rudolf. “Having transparency, seeing with their own eyes what’s actually happening I think changes people’s perception.”
When asked about his gripes with the justice system, Rudolf listed junk science, exculpatory evidence and tunnel vision on the part of prosecutors as flaws he’s observed while practicing law.
The attorney says Michael Peterson still lives in Durham where he writes about his experiences in prison. Rudolf says his former client is trying to live his life.
“He goes to the gym. He goes shopping. He goes to the movies and he visits his grandchildren,” elaborated Rudolf.
The attorney says he isn’t friends with Peterson, but has spoken with him since the case wrapped up. Rudolf still believes his former client is innocent of murder.
“I never for a second doubted his innocence. There was never a credible explanation of how and why this happened,” said the attorney. “It never made any sense. Michael was adamant about his innocence and I never saw any evidence that convinced me otherwise.”
Tickets for Rudolf’s speaking engagement in Charlotte can be purchased here.
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