If you watched The Staircase, you still might not know how you feel about Michael Peterson and whether or not he’s guilty, but you absolutely have an opinion about Candace Zamperini, one of Kathleen Peterson’s sisters.
If the name doesn’t quite ring a bell, Candace Zamperini was called as a character witness by the state and spoke to the potential motive of her brother-in-law — the first time you saw her in the wildly successful documentary series now streaming on Netflix. She argued that Michael and Kathleen Peterson’s relationship wasn’t the marital bliss that others described and that her sister would not have simply accepted her husband’s bisexuality as easily as the defence claimed. She’s easily the most polarizing figure in the entire documentary between her anger and, as some have argued, homophobic comments about Michael Peterson’s sex life, and there are no private interviews with her to counter those extreme reactions as she refused to speak to the creators of the series.
But she might be most remembered by The Staircase viewers for her comments at Michael Peterson’s 2017 hearing, in which he entered an Alford Plea for voluntary manslaughter. Candace Zamperini was allowed to give an impact statement about Peterson’s plea, which included the phrase “Alford, Schmalford.” The speech was fiery, Zamperini’s hands shook with anger as she read the prepared statement that aimed at making Peterson understand that his plea “means guilty.”
So where is Candace Zamperini now?
She did feel as if she got some sort of justice, though, as she indicated in the speech: “The words Alford plea, they’re meaningless. Alford, Schmalford, means nothing. It means guilty. …You are pleading to voluntary manslaughter. You will be treated as guilty for murdering my sister Kathleen, and you will be a convicted felon forever. This hearing today is as close to justice as anything that I think can be found. Not perfect justice, but justice.”
But what happened after to Candace Zamperini? She remains steadfast in her belief that Michael Peterson killed her sister Kathleen. At the same time as the 2017 hearing, Zamperini also spoke out against the makers of The Staircase, but has since seemed to retire to her Virginia home to avoid the spotlight.