The prosecutor from Netflix's The Staircase dead at 57

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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Freda Black, the assistant DA in the Netflix's The Staircase, seen at trial.

She was found in her home on Sunday. 

Freda Black, a former district attorney in Durham County, has been found dead at 57 in her home this weekend.

Her name and face will be familiar to anyone who binge-watched Netflix’s The Staircase this summer. As assistant district attorney, Black was part of the legal team instrumental in prosecuting author Michael Peterson for the murder of his wife Kathleen. Black was particularly memorable during the trial for her powerful closing remarks and direct addresses.

Police were called to Black’s home on Sunday afternoon after a family member raised their concerns at not being able to reach her, according to News & Observer. She was found dead at the home and a cause of death is yet to be released. She is survived by her two daughters. 

The Peterson trial was one of the most notable cases of Black’s career and was ultimately a successful one, too. Peterson was jailed for the murder of his wife, as detailed in the Netflix series, despite the defence team posing several alternate theories of what happened on that fateful night in Durham Country. 

(Since The Staircase aired on Netflix this summer, fans have shared their own ideas about who or what killed Kathleen Peterson, including one theory about a particularly vicious owl attacking her on that infamous staircase.)

After the Peterson trial Black ran for district attorney twice, unsuccessfully, after which she resigned from the law. Later in her life she was charged twice with drink driving and once with driving with a suspended license.

She was remembered by her colleagues in the law as “absolutely fearless”, “whip smart” and “no nonsense”, according to News & Observer. Jim Hardin, who led the prosecution team in The Staircase, told News & Observer: “Freda was an incredible person in so many ways.”

Image: Netflix