Since Making A Murderer was released on Netflix in December 2015, there have been countless takes online, dozens of conspiracy theories and just recently it’s felt like there’s been new information every day.
For what it’s worth, I’m adding my voice to this online noise to discuss the irrelevance of Avery’s guilt and innocence at this stage.
For those who have been under a rock for two months, Making A Murderer follows Steven Avery, who was wrongfully convicted for 18 years for a sexual assault and attempted murder, and taken into custody again just two years later on suspicion of the murder of photographer Teresa Halbech. That arrest took place shortly after several detectives were deposed in a civil case in which Avery was asking for a good deal of compensation.
The filmmakers have been accused by prosecutor Ken Kratz, among others, of only presenting evidence which looked good for the defence, or omitting forensic evidence such as Avery’s DNA on the bonnet of Teresa’s car.
I agree with both sides on this one: while the finished product should be as balanced as possible, you have to take a documentary like this with a pinch of salt. It would have been impossible for them to include every relevant piece of information within 10 hours (in a digestible way, at least).
We should never expect to be able to tell if Avery is guilty or innocent from a Netflix documentary. The law and guilt beyond reasonable doubt principle is more complicated than that and requires qualified lawyers and judges to explain the issues to a jury in a trial. The glimpses we get of that process could never be enough in such a complicated case.
I do also think that while the filmmakers insisted they were not biased either way, the series feels rather defence-weighted. But this makes sense from the angle that it explores the justice system and the trial procedure, especially as a big part of the defence case was rubbishing the investigation that had taken place.
Many are now calling for Avery to be exonerated having decided he must be innocent as he was the first time. But I don’t think it’s that simple. I believe he deserves a retrial, as does his nephew Brendan Dassey who was convicted on related charges, as there were clear examples of misconduct – for example Brendan’s lawyer allowing him, a 16-year-old, to be interviewed without him or his mother present. Additionally the Manitowoc County detectives were not supposed to be heavily involved in the investigation, yet they were key cogs present for significant discoveries.
Yet these issues do not mean Avery and Brendan are innocent. Despite additional questionable evidence, some of it pointed to Avery in the first place and likely for good reason unless there was an *incredible* set up against him.
Also Brendan took back his confession- but that doesn’t mean he was lying. He could be a guilty kid regretting his confession. Also it has been well-acknowledged that neither of them are particularly smart, which could be explain other holes such as why Avery dumped Teresa’s car so close to his house or didn’t put it through the car chomper.
All I’m saying is we simply can’t know without another thorough investigation through the courts whether they are guilty or innocent. The point of the documentary is they deserve that retrial either way.