Making a Murderer, twice


Viviane Lepine, Author

The documentary ”Making a Murderer” is a Netflix original production that  follows the story of Steven Avery, who served 18 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. The American web television series that was released on December 18, 2015. It was directed and written by Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi. The documentary is mainly filmed in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, the city where Avery grew up and is covering the time between his 1985 imprisonment and today’s trials. The documentary quickly became a sensation and is now world wide known.

Steven Avery, the main subject of the show, was arrested in 1985 for the rape and attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen as he was 23 years old. As you may think, this wasn’t the first time he got arrested. At 18, he was convicted to 10 months in prison for the burglary of a bar. Two years later, he was declared guilty of animal cruelty because he “tossed” a cat covered in oil into a campfire and spent another 9 months in prison. Then, in 1985, he was charged with assault against his cousin. This same cousin was the wife of a part-time sheriff at the Manitowoc County and she made a complain about Steven exposing himself to her when she drove in front of his house. The same year, he was unfairly accused of attempted murder and rape. Steven was pronounced guilty even though he had an alibi. He was released in 2003 after a DNA test made on a pubic hair proved his innocence.

Avery waited for a year after his release to launch a $36 million lawsuit against the Manitowoc County, Thomas Kocourek (former sheriff) and Denis Vogel (former district attorney). He was on the right way to win his case, but he got arrested again in 2005. Teresa Halbach, a photographer, was supposed to meet Steven Avery at the yard of the auto salvage owned by his family on October 31, and she went missing the same day. Bone fragments of the victim and Theresa’s car were found hidden in the yard. He was arrested for murder a few days later, as well as his nephew, Brendan Dassey. They were placed in different trials after Dassey confessed he was guilty (his confession might have been involuntary). On his side, Steven maintained that the authorities were only trying to make it harder for him to get his $36 millions. On March 18, 2007, Avery was convicted to prison for life. On January 11th of this year, Avery asked for a new appeal because of violations of due process rights and he got an attorney the next day

There is a chance that Steven Avery is guilty of this crime, but there is also a chance he is innocent again. It is not because he was once falsely accused of murder that he is without a doubt faultless, but the circumstances of his arrest are suspicious. There is a big debate going on about Steven Avery. Is he guilty this time? Is he being framed? For now, we can’t know for sure.