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Making a Murderer – Of Course Steven Avery Did It

After being mercilessly hounded by coworkers I finally gave in and marathoned Making a Murderer on Netflix. Coworkers gave me a brief synopsis of the events it covered and assured me of the outrage I would feel as I watched police misconduct send two men to prison for a murder they didn’t commit.

If you’re not familiar with the series, here is a very short summary of what it is about. Over ten, hour-long episodes the documentary covers Steven Avery’s wrongful conviction for rape in 1985 which sent him to prison, his exoneration by DNA after eighteen years, his lawsuit against the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department, the disappearance of Teresa Halbach in 2005, Avery’s arrest and conviction for Halbach’s murder, and the conviction of Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, for his role in Halbach’s murder.

Having finished all the episodes, I have to say to coworkers and all the Steven Avery fans out there, he and Dassey are both guilty as sin. The only outrage is that this ‘documentary’ was allowed to be broadcast.

Although I would agree the series is compelling and a rare chance to watch a murder case from start to finish, it was quite evident from the beginning that the filmmakers had an agenda and were presenting only the defense. Not only that but it’s been well reported that some of the evidence that looked very bad for Avery was left out of the series completely. All documentaries have an agenda of one kind or another and this one was no exception.

The number of people who watched the series and were immediately convinced of Avery and Dassey’s innocence should not be surprising. In the day and age when so many apparently think socialism is the direction our country should be headed, it should not be the least bit surprising that many watched a ten-hour, one-sided documentary and convinced themselves they knew more than the police, the prosecutors, and the juries. It’s amazing how many people out there think their Netflix subscription came with a law degree and watching some CSI episodes makes them an expert in forensics.

It’s very telling that over four hundred thousand people signed an online petition to President Obama demanding that he pardon Steven Avery, completely ignorant of the fact that Obama does not have the power to pardon someone convicted of state crimes, not federal crimes.

Watching the documentary gives the viewer a one-sided presentation of the events. Anyone wanting the full, unbiased story is forced to look elsewhere for more information. I highly recommend Dan O’Donnell’s podcast series, Rebutting a Murderer. Dan is a reporter for WISN radio and he was in the courtroom for Avery’s entire trial.

I just have to shake my head at all the crackpot theories I’ve read about who ‘really’ committed the murder. Her brother did it. Her ex-boyfriend did it. The Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department did it. Dassey’s brother did it. Avery’s brothers did it. Her brother and ex-boyfriend did it and then the police planted the evidence. Dassey’s brother did it and then the police planted the evidence. She’s not really dead. A 72-year-old serial killer who only killed on Halloween did it and set up Avery. She committed suicide and the police framed Avery.

Maybe the CIA did it. Or how about Martians. Or maybe the same vast, right-wing conspiracy that’s after Hillary Clinton. Maybe the shooter from the grassy knoll. Maybe Teresa Halbach is really on a resort island somewhere with Elvis.

Or maybe, just maybe, Brendan Dassey told the truth in his three-and-a-half-hour confession when he said he and Avery raped Teresa Halbach, murdered her, and burned her body. And maybe, just maybe, the physical evidence dovetails with that confession because Dassey was telling the truth. It’s mind-boggling that people will come up with outlandish theories of what might have happened while completely dismissing a confession and evidence that corroborates that confession.

Law enforcement has been given a bad rap by the media in the past few years. The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, and other cases have been used to cultivate distrust of the police. Making a Murderer accomplishes nothing other than to further propagate animus toward the police.

Steven Avery will spend the rest of his life in prison. Brendan Dassey will be eligible for parole in 2048. They’re both where they belong. Don’t let a biased, one-sided piece of propaganda convince you otherwise.

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