• Freda Black, prosecutor featured in Netflix's 'The Staircase' documentary, has died

    By: USA Today

    Updated:

    A North Carolina prosecutor best known for trying Michael Peterson's infamous 2003 murder trial featured on Netflix’s “The Staircase” documentary has died, Durham police said, marking the second death of a show participant since the miniseries premiered in June.  

    Freda Black, a former Durham County assistant district attorney, was found dead in her home Sunday, Durham Police spokesperson Wil Glenn told USA TODAY.

    Glenn said the 57-year-old’s body has been sent to the State Medical Examiner for an autopsy, but her death “does not appear suspicious at this time.”

    Authorities were alerted to Black's home by loved ones who grew concerned after not being able to reach her. 

    “She was found in her home during a welfare check by officers,” Glenn said. “Family members hadn’t spoken to her in a few days.”

    Police did not release any more details.

    Black's death comes just months after Netflix released “The Staircase” documentary that follows Mike Peterson’s murder trial in 2003.

    Retired Charlotte detective Ron Guerette, who assisted on Peterson's case and was also featured throughout the miniseries, died on June 19 at 73. 

    Peterson, a novelist and former Durham mayoral candidate, was charged with the murder of his wife Kathleen Peterson. She was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in the family’s Durham home in December 2001.

    Black, who served as an assistant prosecutor, is best remembered for her closing arguments during the trial, which ended with Peterson’s conviction on first-degree murder.

    Last year, Peterson was granted a new trial and eventually submitted an Alford plea to a lesser charge of manslaughter. The plea allows a defendant to maintain their innocence while admitting the prosecution team has enough evidence to convict.

    He was sentenced to time served and freed.

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