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EXCLUSIVE 'It was the most depressing time of my life': The Staircase lawyer David Rudolf recalls the one regret about his part in Netflix's true-crime series

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 12/02/2019 Candice Jackson For Daily Mail Australia

US defense lawyer David Rudolf says Michael Peterson is 'getting ready to self-publish a book about his experience in prison and the case' following Netflix's The Staircase documentary. © Daily Mail US defense lawyer David Rudolf says Michael Peterson is 'getting ready to self-publish a book about his experience in prison and the case' following Netflix's The Staircase documentary.

US lawyer David Rudolf is known for representing Michael Peterson in true-crime documentary series, The Staircase.

And the criminal defense attorney has revealed the 75-year-old - who was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to time served in 2017 after taking an Alford plea - has plans to release an e-book about his story.

Speaking to Daily Mail Australia ahead of a tour Down Under, Rudolf said: 'He's getting ready to self-publish a book about his experience in prison and the case.'

The Staircase follows the case of Michael Peterson, who was convicted of murdering his wife Kathleen, after she was found dead at the bottom of the staircase at the couple's home in Durham, North Carolina. 

Rudolf claims the North Carolina novelist is 'looking forward' to the release of the tell-all, which will be made available free of charge on the internet.

'I think he's looking forward to it, to be honest, he was a writer and it's how he's spent his life. He's a writer and getting his story out is important for him.' 

a man and a woman posing for a picture: The Staircase follows the case of Michael Peterson (left), who was convicted of murdering his wife Kathleen (right), after she was found dead at the bottom of the staircase at the couple's home in Durham, North Carolina © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The Staircase follows the case of Michael Peterson (left), who was convicted of murdering his wife Kathleen (right), after she was found dead at the bottom of the staircase at the couple's home in Durham, North Carolina

Peterson served eight years of a life sentence before being released on appeal due to flawed evidence in 2011. He was later convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to time served, at a retrial in 2017 after taking an Alford plea.    

The plea is treated as guilty by the court, but allows the accused to maintain their innocence while admitting that there was enough evidence to convict them. 

a man wearing glasses and looking at the camera: 'Getting his story out is important': Rudolf claims the North Carolina novelist is 'looking forward' to the release of the tell-all, which will be made available for free online as an e-book

'Getting his story out is important': Rudolf claims the North Carolina novelist is 'looking forward' to the release of the tell-all, which will be made available for free online as an e-book
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

Rudolf said Peterson didn't watch the first eight episodes of the docu-series when it came out in 2004, and only reviewed the footage once the extended 13-part series hit Netflix in 2018.

'He didn't watch the entire series for a month or so. He called me one day to say he finished watching it and he thought it was very well done. He felt like it was a well done and accurate portrayal of what happened,' Rudolf explained.

The defense lawyer went on to say his first reaction to The Staircase was far less accepting: 'When I first watched it in 2004, it was the most depressing few days of my life, It was very raw for me and watching it was very difficult.' 

'When it came back out (in 2018), it was different for me. Now the ending is a lot happier. The first eight episodes weren't terribly depressing.'

a person in a suit and tie: 'It was very raw for me and watching it was very difficult': The defense lawyer described his initial viewing of the documentary in 2004 as 'terribly depressing', but said watching it now is easier because he knows the ending is happier © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited 'It was very raw for me and watching it was very difficult': The defense lawyer described his initial viewing of the documentary in 2004 as 'terribly depressing', but said watching it now is easier because he knows the ending is happier

Rudolf said it was a 'leap of faith' to let the camera crew roll on every moment of Peterson's journey, but never had any doubts they would jeopardise the case.

He admitted he had agreed on 'certain conditions' with the filmmakers, but ultimately he liked that they weren't American.

'Part of it was they weren't American. They weren’t glory seeking, they weren’t seeking the gory details and sensationalist angles. What they were really interested in was how the criminal justice system worked and what criminal defense lawyers actually did. It's why I agreed to do it.'

a person sitting at a table: 'At the time it was just incredibly irritating': Looking back on the series, Rudolf joked that he regretted his 'camera tantrum' towards the power-point operator © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited 'At the time it was just incredibly irritating': Looking back on the series, Rudolf joked that he regretted his 'camera tantrum' towards the power-point operator

Looking back, he joked of his regret: 'I'm not sure I would change it, but certainly my camera tantrum at the power-point operator was not a highlight for me.'

The moment in the true-crime series shows Rudolf becoming frustrated by a video operator, before a guard escorts them out of the building due to a fire alarm. 

'At the time it was just incredibly irritating, but as I look back on it now and watch it it's sort of a comedy routine.'  

a close up of text on a black background: Rudolf praised how the rise in popularity of true-crime documentaries has helped people understand the criminal justice system better (Pictured: Netflix's Making A Murderer series) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Rudolf praised how the rise in popularity of true-crime documentaries has helped people understand the criminal justice system better (Pictured: Netflix's Making A Murderer series)

Rudolf, along with Making A Murderer's defense lawyer Laura Nirider (who represents Brendan Dassey in season two of the Netflix series), are touring Australia in March with their 'Inside Making a Murderer & The Staircase' event.

'I think a lot of people have a newfound understanding of the problems that can exist, of how wrongful convictions occur, of the importance of what criminal defence lawyers do,' the US lawyer said of the rise in popularity of true-crime series.

However, Rudolf insists he won't star in any other true-crime documentaries, as he believes The Staircase is 'a wonderful piece of film making that captures the criminal justice system', adding: 'It cant get any better, only worse.'

The lawyers will accept questions from fans and audience members at the upcoming functions in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane. 

a close up of a newspaper: Tickets on sale now! Rudolf, along with Making A Murderer's defense lawyer Laura Nirider (who represents Brendan Dassey in season two of the Netflix series), are touring Australia in March for five separate shows with their 'Inside Making a Murderer & The Staircase' event © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Tickets on sale now! Rudolf, along with Making A Murderer's defense lawyer Laura Nirider (who represents Brendan Dassey in season two of the Netflix series), are touring Australia in March for five separate shows with their 'Inside Making a Murderer & The Staircase' event

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