January 4, 2016


'Making a Murderer' Petition Wants Presidential Pardon for Steven Avery


Chances are you didn't get through the holidays without hearing about, or actually watching, Netflix's Making a Murderer. The 10-episode documentary series premiered on Dec. 18 to immediate buzz, commonly seen as the streaming service's answer to HBO's harrowing The Jinx and the beloved NPR podcast Serial.

The subjects of the series are Steven Avery and, to a lesser extent, his nephew Brendan Dassey. Avery was released from prison in 2003 after serving 18 years on a false rape conviction. Just two years later he was charged, alongside Dassey, with murdering a woman named Teresa Halbach. Avery has been serving a life sentence since 2007.

Filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos followed their subjects for 10 years starting in 2005, and Making a Murderer has thoroughly convinced some of its viewers that Avery was wrongly convicted a second time. A petition on Change.org calls for Avery to be released by presidential pardon; it's got 172,000 signatures with a goal of 200,000. There's also a caveat that the officials of Wisconsin's Manitowoc County "complicit in [Avery's] two false imprisonments should be held accountable to the highest extent of the U.S. criminal and civil justice systems."

Similar petitions on the White House's site have 19,300 and 13,300 signatures. Avery's prosecutor, Ken Kratz, has been bombarded with ill-will. In an interview with Wisconsin's Fox 11 News, he said, "I believe there to be 80 to 90 percent of the physical evidence, the forensic evidence, that ties Steven Avery to this murder never to have been presented in this documentary."

The first episode of Making a Murderer is on YouTube: