Michael Peterson relates his version of the fatal events of Dec. 9, 2001. Oscar winning filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade chronicles the sensational murder trial, granted unusual access to Peterson's lawyers and his immediate family.
Flashforward to 2011. It has been eight years since Peterson was incarcerated in prison. His family and his lawyers have never given up hope for an appeal, but the North Carolina Court of Appeal and Supreme Court have denied him the right to a new trial. As this chapter recalls the details of the case, a dramatic twist throws doubt on his conviction, and we visit a tired and emaciated Peterson in his prison cell.
The testimony of one of the key witnesses in Peterson's trial, forensic investigator Duane Deaver, has come into question. And as a result, in December of 2011, Peterson is released on parole. But he is by no means a free man. There are very important choices to make-and more twists in the Peterson saga to come.
Should Peterson undergo a second trial (and risk another conviction) or plead guilty? He says he totally rejects the word "guilty," but saying it in a courtroom could be the only way to close the case and ensure his freedom. Peterson's family discusses their relief at his parole, but also their fears at what lies ahead.
The judge in Peterson's original trial rules that, notwithstanding Deaver's misconduct, there will be no dismissal of his conviction. David Rudolf, Peterson's friend and lawyer has declined to represent him at a new trial, but explains that a second jury might be no more equitable than the first. Proposals are advanced for Peterson to plead guilty, but he still refuses to pronounce the word.
After much fraught deliberations, a deal has been negotiated for an "Alford plea," wherein Peterson will plead guilty while still asserting his innocence. He attends the hearing, facing his late wife's sisters, who still believe that he murdered her.