Here’s What ‘Making a Murderer’ Left Out
Damning evidence and a major conflict of interest.
Now that apparently everyone in the world has seen Making a Murderer on Netflix, we’re all going collectively down the rabbit hole to find out more about Steven Avery’s murder trial, with the consensus leaning in the direction of a second wrongful conviction for Avery.
But there have been accusations — many of them coming from the prosecution side — that Making A Murderer filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi cherry-picked the evidence and the footage to support a theory that Avery was framed by the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s department.
Of course, there is only so much room to fit details about a complicated case in a ten hour documentary series. And if the claims of some sources are true, the filmmakers did indeed leave out evidence that might have given viewers pause before declaring that Avery is definitely innocent. But some of what was left out didn’t look good for the prosecution, either.
As prosecutor Ken Kratz told Maxim last week, the documentary didn’t present additional DNA evidence belonging to Avery: According to Kratz, Avery’s sweat was found under the hood of murder victim Teresa Halbach’s car. Making a Murderer only addresses the blood found at the scene, which the defense argued was planted by the sheriff’s department, as it was in possession of a vial of Avery’s blood due to his earlier sexual assault arrest, for which he was exonerated.
According to multiple sources, including Kratz, Halbach had been to Avery’s auto yard several times before October 31, 2005, and apparently had told her boss she no longer wished to go there, after Avery’s behavior made her uncomfortable. Avery had reportedly asked for Halbach specifically any time he scheduled a photography session with Auto Trader magazine. In his Maxim interview, Kratz said that Avery tricked Halbach into coming on the day she was murdered by leaving his sister’s number to set up the appointment.
And according to Pajiba, “Avery had purchased handcuffs and leg irons like the ones [Avery’s nephew Brendan] Dassey described holding Halbach only three weeks before (Avery said he’s purchased them for use with his girlfriend, Jodi, with whom he’d had a tumultuous relationship — at one point, he was ordered by police to stay away from her for three days).”
It would seem that a balanced account of the case might have included those pieces of evidence. But on the other hand, Making a Murderer didn’t mention something about the jury selection that would seem to support possible tampering on the part of the Manitowoc Sheriff’s Department: Two jurors were had relatives currently working there at the time of the trial.
In an interview posted on YouTube this week, Avery defense lawyer Dean Strang said the familial connections were known, but that both the defense and prosecution had used up their allocation of juror dismissals on jurors with presumably more problematic conflicts of interest. We’re not lawyers, but it feels pretty astonishing that those two jurors made it past even the first round of juror selection.
And though Strang has conceded that Avery doesn’t have many legal options left, public opinion seems to be squarely on his side, with popular petitions at Change.org and the official White House petition page calling for Avery to be pardoned.