I am based in the U.K and as such, we are a little behind on the American scene. This has become clear when it comes to the series" Making A Murderer" by Netflix. Where as this was available in the U.S in December 2015, we in the U.K are only just beginning to hear of it.
If you have not seen it, then this post contains information of evidence and so on. I advise you to watch it first before reading on.
Are you sure?
This documentary is based on the life of Steven Avery. A man who spent 18 years of his life in prison for a crime he did not commit and the massive failings on the Law Enforcement side that lead to his conviction, despite solid evidence being present. The evidence was either not documented or ignored and it lead to a terrible miscarriage of Justice.
Steven Avery had been a troubled youth but no significant crimes. Yet in the year 1985 Avery found himself being convicted of attempted rape on a woman named Penny Beernsten . He was ultimately found guilty and sentenced to 32 years in prison. There were many mistakes made in his arrest and the way evidence was treated and information gathered, however, his pleas of innocence seemed to go unheard.
When The "Innocence Project" got involved they ultimately got his conviction quashed, due to DNA evidence, and Steven Avery was released in 2002. Steven Avery filed a lawsuit against the local police department for his wrongful conviction and after a long process he was awarded $240,000 in compensation. However Steven Avery had another issue.
Now, unbelievably, he was being charged -with murder!
Steven Avery had been the last appointment of Teresa Halbech who worked for Auto Trader magazine. Steven Avery had been selling a vehicle through her magazine and she visited the property to take photographs of the vehicle. This is the last time she was seen. After this the trail goes cold and police and her family are stumped. After several days of finding nothing, her car is found on Steven Avery's property.
The Police then get a search warrant and search Steven Avery's property. This is where things get complicated. There was an 8 day search, which is an unusual amount of time, of his property. On the 7th visit to the house a key to Teresa Halbech's car was found inside Steven Avery's bedroom. There was DNA evidence , in the form of blood belonging to Mr Avery. However Mr Avery has no open wounds and no fingerprints of his were found in the vehicle. Add to this that no DNA evidence belonging to Teresa Halbech was found in either Steven Avery's home or his garage.
In a startling turn of events, Mr Avery's 16 year old nephew, Brendan Dassey confessed to committing the murder with his uncle. This lead to both men being imprisoned and awaiting trial for the murder. During which Brendan changes his testimony many times confessing to the crime and also denying all knowledge of it.
The controversial series by Netflix has lead to a proposal to the White House to pardon Mr Avery and Mr Dassey, which (if the petition gets enough signatures) they would have to consider, all based on the portrayal of the Netflix documentary.
Some key points have been highlighted by Vox:
- Police claim they found a key to Halbach's SUV in Avery's home. But the key was only found after multiple searches, and contained only Avery's DNA, not Halbach's — even though Halbach would have used the key for years. Thus, Avery's defense argues that the key was planted, raising questions like: Why would Avery clean the key of any traces of Halbach's DNA but leave his own DNA on it? Why would Avery clean the key but leave it in his home? And why was the key conveniently found after multiple searches?
- Law enforcement officials say they found a bullet with Halbach's DNA on it in Avery's garage, arguing that it's evidence that Avery shot and killed Halbach in there. But if that's true, why couldn't police find any other sign of Halbach's DNA — not in any of the piles of junk in the garage or in the cracks of the garage floor that they literally busted open? Shooting someone to death is very messy. Are we to believe that Avery cleaned up his garage of any traces of Halbach's DNA but somehow forgot a bullet?
- Prosecutors present Halbach's bones as evidence, claiming that they were found in a fire pit right outside of Avery's home. But bones were also found around the Avery property, suggesting that at least some of the bones were moved. So why would Avery leave bones right outside his home after making efforts to move them around his own family's property?
- Tests found no signs of EDTA, an anticoagulant used to preserve the blood in Avery's vial, in the blood found in Halbach's SUV. The prosecution used this finding as proof that the blood found in Halbach's SUV was not the same as the blood found in Avery's vial. But a forensic expert testified for the defense that the test for EDTA is so faulty that a finding of no EDTA could also mean the test wasn't good enough.
- The prosecution built much of its initial case on the testimony of Brendan Dassey, Avery's nephew, who allegedly helped Avery kill Halbach. The prosecution announced Dassey's supposed confession in a big press conference, implying that Dassey had provided a highly detailed account of what happened. But the footage of the confession later suggested that investigators essentially pushed Dassey, who by his own admission is not very smart, into confessing by barraging him with leading questions. In fact, once Dassey lawyered up, he withdrew his confession, and the prosecution didn't use it in trial due to its questionable nature.
This is a case that will have everyone talking about it. There is much more evidence in the episodes, and I urge you to watch it, gather all the facts and make your own mind up. "Making A Murderer" is open for opinion, it gives you the evidence against Mr Avery and Mr Dassey, and also evidence supporting their case.