Barack Obama confirms he is unable to pardon Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey
Fans of Netflix documentary Making A Murderer have received an official response from the White House after a petition aimed at earning a pardon for the two men at the centre of the film passed 100,000 signatures.
As reported, thousands of people signed a petition calling for the release of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, whose convictions for the murder of Teresa Halbach is the focus of the true crime series.
A petition was started on December 20 last year through on the government’s We The People website. The White House must address any of these which reach 100,000 signatures within 30 days of creation. The popularity of the petition forced President Obama into action, though he was unable to deliver the news Avery supporters were chasing.
“Under the constitution, only federal criminal convictions, such as those adjudicated in the United States District Courts, may be pardoned by the President,” the statement begins. “In addition, the President’s pardon power extends to convictions adjudicated in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and military court-martial proceedings. However, the President cannot pardon a state criminal offense.”
The statement goes on to clarify that any pardon for Avery and Dassey would need to be issued at state level.
The documentary series was filmed over the past decade and focuses on the trial and conviction of the two men in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Both men are serving life sentences, having been convicted in 2007. Making A Murderer pays particular attention to perceived injustices in the case.
Earlier this week the filmmakers behind the Netflix series appeared on BBC’s ‘Newsnight’ to answer host Evan Davis’ questions about the series.