Imagine spending eighteen years of your life in prison for a crime you didn’t commit. You’re eventually exonerated, but many years away from your family, friends and fiancee have taken their toll. The worst is over – or is it? Steven Avery is the subject of Netflix’s latest documentary, Making A Murderer.
Avery, who was incarcerated in 2005 for a murder he claims he didn’t commit, had previously been imprisoned on a false rape charge from the community he grew up in. The documentary takes viewers through ten hours of police reports, recorded audio tapes and parts of Avery’s murder trial in a seemingly gross and ghastly miscarriage of justice.
The question still remains – is Steven Avery innocent?
The documentary is absolutely heartpounding. No adrenaline-pumping action scenes are needed to keep viewers on the edge of their seat; the facts do that for themselves. Avery was wrongly accused in 1985 by a fellow citizen who was coerced into believing that he was the one who had raped her. Although she identified him in a lineup, thanks in big part to an official’s sketch of him (which was later revealed to have been taken from a photo, not her eyewitness account), Avery was exonerated eighteen years later by newly discovered DNA evidence.
Two years after being released, Avery was once again at the center of a scandal when photographer Teresa Halbach was reported missing. After her Jeep was found on the Avery property (a family-run auto salvage yard), he was immediately arrested. Months later, his nephew Brendan Dassey was also arrested after he admitted to police that he had helped rape and murder Halbach in Avery’s trailer. The confession came after four hours of interrogating the 16-year-old, using his slow wit to draw out details that ended up having no physical proof.
The recurring theme throughout the documentary Making a Murderer is one of a consistent coverup by Manitowoc County, in particular by a Detective Lenk and another officer in his department. Though the evidence is conflicting enough to warrant suspicion of Avery, anyone who has watched all ten episodes will agree that there is no conclusive proof that Avery did it. In fact, the evidence is so jumbled, and events so questionable, that a petition has been started to pardon both Avery and his nephew Dassey.
It has to be said that Making a Murderer does leave out a few key points, such as Avery’s history of domestic abuse. Although it’s not clear whether he was charged with anything, his ex-wife and ex-fiancee both claim he threatened and physically abused them. Avery’s ex-wife even received a letter that told her he was going to kill her when he got out. The details of Avery’s past are grim, but many viewers have pointed out that a history of violence isn’t proof in and of itself of murder.
What do you think? Do you think Avery is guilty or innocent?
TV Hack Rating
Making a Murderer