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Confirmation Bias And Also The ‘Owl Theory’: Revisiting The Dying Of Kathleen Peterson From ‘The Staircase’

A trailer for Cinemax Max’s highly-anticipated dramatization from the hit Netflix series “The Staircase” was proven at CrimeCon 2022 in Vegas on Friday mid-day, as podcast co-hosts Sonia Pfeiffer and David Rudolf discussed how tunnel vision and cognitive bias might have performed a job within the situation of Kathleen Peterson’s dying and additional detailed the case’s questionable “owl theory.” 

In the panel, entitled “Wrongful Convictions: The Function of Cognitive Bias,” former TV journalist and current defense attorney Sonia Pfeiffer was became a member of by trial attorney David Rudolf, who defended Michael Peterson after he was charged with killing his wife, Kathleen Peterson, in 2001. 

In the stage, Pfeiffer concisely organized the 2 concepts towards the audience, explaining that tunnel vision happens when an individual searching in a criminal situation is concentrating on a single theory, a treadmill suspect, while blocking other options out and positively searching for evidence that props up single theory. Cognitive bias, she described, describes how humans naturally process new information because we’re delivering new information constantly, our minds need to generate a method to process everything, therefore we use filters and shortcuts.

“Tunnel vision … narrows the main focus of the analysis towards the single target or perhaps a single theory,” Pfeiffer stated in the Vegas stage. “Confirmation bias leads investigators and prosecutors to value evidence supporting their theory and ignore or undervalue evidence that implies their theory may be incorrect.”

On December 9, 2001, Michael Peterson contacted government bodies, saying he’d discovered his wife at the end of the staircase in their New York home. He was adamant they must have fallen lower the steps, but investigators grew to become believing that Kathleen Peterson have been beaten to death—likely by her husband. In October 2003, Michael Peterson was charged of first-degree murder and sentenced to existence imprisonment, not able to convince a jury that they had fallen lower the steps. However a extended appeal process elevated serious questions regarding Peterson’s conviction and, in 2017, he was launched after entering an Alford plea — a guilty plea whereby an offender doesn’t admit towards the criminal act.

Peterson’s winding story has captivated true crime fans, a number of whom were treated at Friday’s panel never to-before-seen scenes that didn’t result in the cut from the 16-part Netflix series. The very first was utilized as one example of the co-hosts’ overarching point about how confirmation bias can enter an analysis. The 2nd only agreed to be amusing. 

Within the first scene, “alleged bloodstream spatter expert” (as Rudolf known him as) Duane Deaver, an worker from the Condition Bureau of Analysis in New York, is viewed utilizing a mannequin having a sponge on its mind to exhibit how bloodstream would splatter as Kathleen Peterson was allegedly attacked. This, the panel’s hosts say, is a good example of both junk science and noble cause corruption — in which a person uses dishonest or illegal way to achieve desirable goals.

The 2nd formerly unseen clip demonstrated Rudolph questioning a supposed Temple College physics professor and expert witness during mix-examination. Rudolph had already learned that the witness was, actually, a phony who periodically would present themself being an academic fit to testify at trials the lawyer had already acquired instructions in the chair from the Department of Physics at Temple College denouncing the person, who’d become a yearly gadfly because he faked his credentials using the Philadelphia college. As Rudolf browse the letter towards the court, a lady observed in the courtroom without anyone’s knowledge has trouble that contains her laughter because it all plays out. 

The clip that got the greatest reaction from audiences within the Vegas convention center an internet-based chat room, however, was in the forthcoming adaptation of “The Staircase,” which stars Toni Colette and Colin Firth because the Petersons. A clip explains the idea from the situation and signifies that Colette’s Kathleen Peterson have a large role within the limited series, which premiers on May 5. 

Also observed in a clip, pinned to some board inside a courtroom, is really a stuffed owl. This can be a nod towards the broadly ignored “owl theory” of Peterson’s dying. Durham attorney T. Lawrence Pollard, who had been a neighbor from the Petersons, presented the concept, instead of getting been bludgeoned by her husband or fallen lower the steps, Kathleen have been attacked by an owl outdoors her home. Evidence listing of the crime scene demonstrated that the microscopic owl feather was listed, as would be a wood sliver from the tree limb which was also present in a clump of hair that Kathleen had in their hands.

This theory continues to be chuckled at and mocked by local government bodies and usually not taken particularly seriously, because it appears so implausible on its face. But because Pfeiffer and Rudolph, who discussed the idea at CrimeCon in 2019, both explain, this may be another situation of tunnel vision and confirmation bias hindering the invention from the truth — this time around, inside a major analysis that sent a possibly innocent man away for a long time.

CrimeCon 2022 is created by Red Seat Ventures and presented by Archiweekend.

Crime News is the place to go for true crime tales from around the globe, breaking crime news, and knowledge about Archiweekend’s original true crime shows and documentaries. Register for Archiweekend Insider for best wishes true crime content. 

Written by Stephanie Green

I am dreamer and book reader.

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