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‘Staircase’ documentary prosecutor died of natural causes

March 18, 2019
FILE - In this May 2, 2006, file photo, attorney Freda Black announces she will wait for all her results for Durham County District Attorney to be tallied during a gathering at the University Towers in Durham, N.C. An autopsy released Monday, March 18, 2019 by the state medical examiner says natural causes claimed the life of Black, a North Carolina prosecutor found dead at home in July 2018. (AP Photo/Sara D. Davis, File)

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — An autopsy says natural causes claimed the life of a North Carolina prosecutor found dead at home last year amid attention over “The Staircase” documentary series.

Freda Black helped prosecute the 2001 killing examined by the documentary. An autopsy released Monday by the state medical examiner cited liver disease due to alcoholism as the cause of death.

Police have said Black was found dead last July and the 57-year-old’s death didn’t appear suspicious.

Black gave closing arguments at the 2003 trial that ended with novelist Michael Peterson convicted of murdering his wife. A judge later ordered a new trial, and Peterson entered a special plea in 2017 acknowledging prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him of manslaughter.

The case received renewed attention after Netflix distributed new episodes of “The Staircase.”

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