Reflecting on Wrongful Conviction and “Making a Murderer”

The nation is gripped with the Netflix documentary, Making a Murderer, featuring the case of Steven Avery’s wrongful conviction in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.

Avery was imprisoned for 18 years, and subsequently exonerated with DNA evidence, for a rape that he did not commit. Tasting freedom for 2 years and awaiting the start of a $36 million settlement lawsuit, he was accused and convicted for the gruesome murder of Teresa Halback along with his nephew, Brendon Dassey, a teenager with a very low IQ.

The discussions in America’s living rooms range from Avery’s part in the murder, whether he did or didn’t do it, and the misconduct of the prosecutors and police.

Because Management Resources works with the wrongfully convicted we’ve seen these issues arise first hand. Avery’s murder conviction could be the culmination of each piece of the puzzle, or, he could be guilty as he was found by the jury. Like many who come into the justice system, Avery was from the “wrong side of the tracks,” and with limited resources.

But, all that said, there are many unanswered questions about evidence which was not presented at trial, and which the jury never heard before making their decision to convict Avery of murder. For a good wrap up of that evidence we point you to a recent article by J.J. Slate, What did Netflix’s “Making a Murderer” leave out?

In her post Slate writes about missing evidence she was able to compile from searches and offers her opinion on each point, but leaving it up to readers to form their own opinion on Avery’s guilt or innocence.

 I don’t think it’s enough to convince me of Steven’s guilt–but I don’t necessarily believe he is 100% innocent either. All I’m saying is we still don’t know what happened there that day and, to be honest, I’m not sure any of us will ever know.

It’s good to see a case of wrongful conviction stir the emotions and raise the pulse of average Americans who may not have any idea how prevalent these cases are. We are finally seeing the public’s rage after viewing and our hope is it won’t stop with the Avery case, but that people will take a closer look into the thousands of cases of the wrongfully incarcerated and collectively do something about it.

Making a MurdererThe documentary shows viewers the coercion of witnesses, the reliability of eyewitness testimony, and the possibility of prosecutorial misconduct with no accountability. All the ingredients of wrongful conviction which we have written about extensively on this site.

The fact is, Making a Murderer relates a prime case of flawed justice. Avery and Dassey are still imprisoned and likely will stay there unless the wheels of justice take a turn. And then what? Will Steven Avery and Brendon Dassey ever be able to return to society and live normal lives?

Forbes writer Paul Tassi says,

In a way, Making a Murderer is justice for Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. Obviously, they’re still in prison, a situation which needs to be rectified, but a problem always was that even if they were found not guilty, at least in Wisconsin with the facts the police and media presented, everyone still would have believed they did it. What Making a Murderer does is restore their reputations, and tell their horrible story to those who have never heard it. The show itself is its own form of justice, showing the real heroes and villains of the case for the world to see.

When our justice system returns to the search for truth, instead of quickly solving crimes and rushing to judgement, we may see less innocent people in prison.

celebratingManagement Resources Ltd of New York is a professional investigative firm licensed in New York and New Jersey, members of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Associated Licensed Detectives of New York, and Founding Members and Regional Directors of Investigating Innocence.

Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin are available for interviews or speaking engagements.  Contact ImaginePublicity at 843-808-08509 or email contact@imaginepublicity.com

 

 

 

 

 

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843-808-0859 or contact@imaginepublicity.com

Members of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Regional Directors, Investigating Innocence
investigating innocence, management resources, bill clutter, bob rahn, kim anklin
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