Making a Murderer, the new documentary series from the popular streaming site Netflix has ignited a firestorm of national conversation about the criminal justice system in America. Exploring the controversial and confusing case of Steven Avery, filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos have raised questions about the responsibilities of prosecutors and police and captured the attention of America.
Following one of the strangest cases in recent memory, Making a Murderer tells the story of Steven Avery who in 1985 was found guilty of rape and sent to prison. Only 22 at the time of his conviction, Avery was exonerated 18 years later. His exoneration was based on DNA evidence proved what he had said all along: that he was innocent. After being released from prison and reunited with his family in Wisconsin, he launched a $36 million civil suit against the local sheriff’s department who Avery claims knew he was innocent of the 1985 crime all along. But before the resolution of his civil suit, Avery was charged with another crime. This time he was charged with the rape and murder of Teresa Halbach, a photographer who visited Avery at his family’s scrap yard the day she went missing.
Steven Avery was found guilty in 2007 of first-degree intentional homicide and is serving life in prison without parole. Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, was also alleged to have taken part in the murder, and is currently serving a life sentence as well, but will be eligible for parole in 2048. Prosecutors cited blood, attributed to Steven Avery, found in Halbach’s car, and bone fragments matching Halbach’s profile, outside of Avery’s home as evidence of his guilt. Avery’s nephew, who was 16 at the time, confessed to authorities that he had assisted his uncle in raping and killing Halbach, although there is some dispute as to whether or not the the confession was coerced. The documentary “Making a Murderer” examines the trials of both Avery and Dassey, and raises questions as to the reliability of the Prosecution’s evidence, potential coercion in Dassey’s confession, and conflicting stories about the police planting evidence as revenge for his civil suit.
While Steven Avery’s conviction has been questioned, many Americans have become obsessed with promoting conspiracy theories, and debating the innocence or guilt of Steven Avery. The documentary raises important questions about the current state of our criminal justice system. Are people really considered innocent until proven guilty? What exactly constitutes reasonable doubt in the mind of a jury? Is our judicial system actually fair, or does inherent bias favor those in the government and on the police force?
Steven Avery’s case is a continuing example of the struggles evident in the criminal justice system. With these important questions being raised, it opens the door for new dialogue and hopefully continued reforms to make our criminal system fairer and better able to serve society as a whole. If you are facing criminal charges, do not wait to contact an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney. The attorneys at Rehmeyer & Allatt are here to help and will provide a free consultation and case review. Call us today at (814)-343-9860.