MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: This blog contains details and information contained in the final episode of Making A Murderer
Making A Murderer is the Netflix true crime documentary that has gripped viewers with its story of a grizzly murder and the subsequent arrest and trial of Wisconsin residents Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. Both were found guilty of killing Teresa Halbach, though huge doubts remain in viewers minds over their roles in her death.
Avery’s story is particularly unique in that he spent 18 years in prison after being convicted of rape in 1985, only to be exonerated in 2003 following the discovery of DNA evidence.
Spread over ten hours of footage, which took filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi a decade to gather and complete, Making A Murderer paints the picture of a corrupt police force and criminal justice system while suggesting that Avery and Dassey were framed for a crime they did not commit. It’s heart-wrenching stuff.
Viewers gripped by the show are generally avoiding spoilers so chances are that if you’re reading this then you’ll have finished the series and have a lot of questions whizzing around your mind. Here are six of the biggest with a few answers.
What about Steven Avery’s past convictions?
Making A Murderer goes into a lot of detail over its run but some things are skated over a little quickly. One of those things is Avery’s previous criminal convictions. Though they are for less serious crimes than those he would later go on to be accused of, the facts are that Avery was sentenced to 10 months in jail after burgling a bar when he was 20 years old. He was also put in prison for animal cruelty after pouring petrol on a cat and throwing it onto a fire. Finally, in 1985, Avery was found guilty assaulting his female cousin and possessing a firearm as a felon.
If you finished the series convinced of Avery’s innocence then prepare to feel conflicted. Steven Avery’s prosecutor, the softly spoken Ken Kratz, went on the offensive earlier this week and emailed The Wrap a list of nine pieces of evidence he claims were not presented at trial and which he is convinced prove Avery’s guilt. Among this evidence are allegations that Avery targeted Teresa and called her employer AutoTrader magazine and asked them to send “that same girl” a number of times. Phone records show three calls from Avery to Teresa’s phone on the day of her death. Two of which times Avery used the *67 feature so she couldn’t see who was calling.
It is also alleged that Teresa’s phone and camera were found 20 ft from Avery’s door, burned in his barrel and that Avery’s DNA (not blood) was on the victim’s hood latch (under her hood in her car).
Who killed Teresa Halbach?
The defence in Avery’s trial were restricted from suggesting alternative theories as to who killed Teresa, something which handicapped their case. However, fans of the show have turned amateur sleuth and come up with a number of theories, including ‘The German Man’ theory. Blogger Brian McCorkle discovered that around the same time Halbach disappeared, a man who, by his wife’s admission, was obsessed with fire and behaving erratically, moved into a town five miles from the Avery property. On the November 5, when they stopped for lunch in the Maribel area, the husband saw a missing person poster for Halbach and stated dogmatically, “She’s dead.” You can read more about that here .
Meanwhile, Avery himself believes that his brothers Charles and Earl may have had a part to play in the murder, and suggested they had both the means and motive to carry out the attack.
Who is the recording artist on the jury?
On a lighter note, footage from news coverage of the trial offered a run down of the identities on the trial jury. Rules regarding anonymity means no names were mentioned but their professions were, one of which was listed as “International Recording Artist”. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported at the time that the Avery jury pool consisted mostly of “people who hold blue-collar jobs or don’t work, either because they are retired or are homemakers.” However, one member stood out: “There’s also a 41-year-old man who describes himself as independently wealthy, retired and as a part-time singer in a rock‘n’roll band.”
The jury remains anonymous but lets just say we hope it was Prince.
What’s the latest?
Since the series launched on Netflix on December 18 there has been a lot of talk from the filmmakers as well as members of the prosecution and defence in various media outlets. Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi revealed this week that they were contacted by a member of the jury who believes that Avery was framed and that he deserves a new trial. Expect this one to run and run.
What can I do?
Fans of the show unhappy with the verdict have begun two petitions aimed at getting President Barack Obama to pardon Avery (pictured above) and his nephew, Brendan Dassey.
The first, a Change.org petition has received more than 248,000 signatures. The petition was created by Michael Seyedian, a fan of the series upset with the outcome of the 2007 trial.
Meanwhile, the second is a formal petition to the White House, that requires 100,000 signatures in order to ensure that White House staff will review it and issue an official response. This petition currently has 58,000 signatures. Unfortunately, Obama will be of little help here. Despite being President, he can only pardon federal crimes and both Avery and Dassey were convicted of state crimes.
Will there be more?
In short: quite possibly. Speaking to Buzzfeed, Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi confirmed that they will still follow the case and see where it leads them
“We’ll have to see what’s happening, but we do intend to continue to follow this story, the response to it, whether things change in their cases, or whether things happen in the justice system as a result of this. Because this is about our system, and we’re just using these cases as an example,” Demos said. “I mean, if you look at Twitter, there’s so much talk about Wisconsin and Manitowoc, but people just need to look in their own town. I guarantee it’s no different.”