This article has been updated.
Steven Avery is a murderer. No, he wasn’t framed. Yes, his detainment is lawful. Unfortunately, the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer has deliberately ignored or obscured essential facts of the case, prompting a media-driven popular uproar that has resulted in petitions on Change.org and WhiteHouse.gov calling on Obama to pardon Avery (something he cannot do as Avery was not convicted of a federal crime).
In an attempt to sensationalize an open-and-shut murder case, filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos infused uncertainty and suspense into their carefully crafted narrative to titillate audiences about the murder of 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach. The film masterfully manipulates viewers to conclude that Avery was framed by omitting essential facts and effectively conflating Avery’s previous apparent false conviction of rape with his overwhelmingly evidence-based conviction of murder.
The efforts of the filmmakers have paid off, creating a massive buzz around the film. “Since broadcasting via Netflix, petitions urging the president to conditionally pardon the Wisconsin man have gained traction, and the group Anonymous have claimed they hold critical evidence that proves he is innocent,” reports Independent (UK). But a closer look at the facts proves that all the buzz and outrage is based on a deceptively crafted false narrative.
As The Federalist‘s David Harsanyi highlights, the facts of the case are clear enough: parts of Halbach’s body was found burned in Avery’s fire pit; police found a bullet in Avery’s garage linked by DNA to Halbach; Halbach’s car with her blood on it was on Avery’s family lot; Avery was the last person to see her alive; and his cousin confessed that he helped Avery murder Halbach (though the confession was terribly handled).
Harsanyi walks through a series of deceptively omitted details from Avery’s case and prior history. A few excerpts:
— Not only was the bullet found in the garage linked to Halbach’s DNA, but it was forensically tied to Avery’s gun as well. …
— The criminal complaint claimed that authorities had found restraints — handcuffs and leg irons — at Avery’s residence. …
— The infamous car key that was found in Avery’s residence had DNA of his sweat on it. …
— Avery not only called Auto Trader and specifically requested Halbach to take pictures the day she was killed, but he also gave a false name when he did so. Why? …
— Not only was Avery’s blood — which we’re supposed to believe was planted by the police after being extracted from an evidence room — found in six places on Halbach’s vehicle, but DNA from his sweat was also found on a hood latch. How did it get there? …
Then there’s the series of accusations against Avery, including pouring gasoline on a cat and throwing it into a bonfire, his plans in prison to create torture chambers and murder women, and allegations of having a raped a young girl and threatened her family. The filmmakers conveniently ignore all of this context.
UPDATE: Former DA Ken Kratz responded to the false narrative presented by the film The Wrap, providing the following examples of evidence the documentary ignored:
1. Avery’s past incident with a cat was not “goofing around”. He soaked his cat in gasoline or oil, and put it on a fire to watch it suffer.
2. Avery targeted Teresa. On Oct 31 (8:12 am) he called AutoTrader magazine and asked them to send “that same girl who was here last time.” On Oct 10, Teresa had been to the Avery property when Steve answered the door just wearing a towel. She said she would not go back because she was scared of him (obviously). Avery used a fake name and fake # (his sister’s) giving those to the AutoTrader receptionist, to trick Teresa into coming.
3. Teresa’s phone, camera and PDA were found 20 ft from Avery’s door, burned in his barrel. Why did the documentary not tell the viewers the contents of her purse were in his burn barrel, just north of the front door of his trailer?
4. While in prison, Avery told another inmate of his intent to build a “torture chamber” so he could rape, torture and kill young women when he was released. He even drew a diagram. Another inmate was told by Avery that the way to get rid of a body is to “burn it”…heat destroys DNA.
5. The victim’s bones in the firepit were “intertwined” with the steel belts, left over from the car tires Avery threw on the fire to burn, as described by Dassey. That WAS where her bones were burned! Suggesting that some human bones found elsewhere (never identified as Teresa’s) were from this murder was NEVER established.
6. Also found in the fire pit was Teresa’s tooth (ID’d through dental records), a rivet from the “Daisy Fuentes” jeans she was wearing that day, and the tools used by Avery to chop up her bones during the fire.
7. Phone records show 3 calls from Avery to Teresa’s cell phone on Oct 31. One at 2:24, and one at 2:35–both calls Avery uses the *67 feature so Teresa doesn’t know it him…both placed before she arrives. Then one last call at4:35 pm, without the *67 feature. Avery first believes he can simply say she never showed up (his original defense), so tries to establish the alibi call after she’s already been there, hence the 4:35 call. She will never answer of course, so he doesn’t need the *67 feature for that last call.
8. Avery’s DNA (not blood) was on the victim’s hood latch (under her hood in her hidden SUV). The SUV was at the crime lab since 11/5…how did his DNA get under the hood if Avery never touched her car? Do the cops have a vial of Avery’s sweat to “plant” under the hood?
9. Ballistics said the bullet found in the garage was fired by Avery’s rifle, which was in a police evidence locker since 11/6…if the cops planted the bullet, how did they get one fired from HIS gun? This rifle, hanging over Aver’s bed, is the source of the bullet found in the garage, with Teresa’s DNA on it. The bullet had to be fired BEFORE 11/5—did the cops borrow his gun, fire a bullet, recover the bullet before planting the SUV, then hang on to the bullet for 4 months in case they need to plant it 4 months later???