The internet has been abuzz with talk about Making a Murderer, Netflix's new true crime series, and the plot has thickened yet again with news that the Manitowac County sheriff involved with Steven Avery's case criticized the show. In an exclusive interview with The Wrap, Manitowoc County Sheriff Robert Hermann said he is "not pleased" with the series' coverage of Avery, a Wisconsin man who served 18 years in prison for a rape conviction that was overturned in 2003.
After being released from prison in 2003, Avery was arrested for the murder of 25-year-old Teresa Halbach, a crime for which he is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, according to The New York Times. Making a Murderer discusses that case and many of its mysterious details, which Hermann said are skewed to support Avery, according to the Wrap.
"In several areas throughout the film [Making a Murderer], you can see where they cut the tape and manipulated things," Hermann told TheWrap. Hermann had previously told HTR News, a local Wisconsin website, that the documentary series was "skewed," but admitted that he hadn't yet watched it. Hermann spoke with TheWrap after finally viewing the series, and he said he "still stands by that statement."
It's easy to see why Hermann is critical of the series, which, according to the Times, makes it "difficult not to immediately postulate theories and throw things at your screen." Hermann's critique is even more understandable because the series suggests that Avery may have been framed by the Sheriff's Department.
The theory goes something like this: Avery's rape conviction was overturned after DNA evidence linked somebody else to the crime, and Avery subsequently sued Manitowoc County officials for $36 million. The Sheriff's Department was so embarrassed by the acquittal and angered by the hefty lawsuit that they planted evidence linking him to the murder of Halbach, a photographer who visited Avery's car-salvage yard shortly before her murder, according to the Times.
According to this theory, the physical evidence against Avery is allegedly too neat and clean; it appears planted. The evidence includes Avery's blood, which was found inside Halbach's car, and Halbach's car key, which was found in Avery's bedroom, according to the Times. A bullet casing with Halbach's DNA was found in Avery's garage, and Avery's 16-year-old nephew, Brendan Dassey, confessed to participating in Halbach's rape and murder, according to the Times. Making a Murderer, though, includes interviews with defense attorneys Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, who allege that the confession was coerced and the evidence planted.
Hermann isn't the only key player in Avery's prosecution who has a beef with Making a Murderer. Last week, former Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz told People that the docu-series neglected to discuss some of the key evidence against Avery during his murder trial, according to People:
You don't want to muddy up a perfectly good conspiracy movie with what actually happened, and certainly not provide the audience with the evidence the jury considered to reject that claim.
Kratz described in detail Avery's alleged interactions with Halbach shortly before her murder, including Avery's alleged flirtation with the young photographer, his repeated calls to her cell phone, and his phone call to AutoTrader magazine, Halbach's employer, on the day of her death, asking that they send "that same girl who was here last time."
In response to Kratz's criticisms, Making a Murderer filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos told TheWrap that if evidence was missing from the 10-episode series, it was because "we tried to choose what we thought was Kratz's strongest evidence pointing toward Steven's guilt ... the things I've heard listed as things we've left out seem much less convincing of guilt than Teresa's DNA on a bullet or her remains in his backyard," according to People.
Whatever the truth, it seems that, for now, the court of public opinion is coming out strongly against the justice system in Wisconsin and in support of Avery. The petition to free Avery from prison already has 200,000 signatures, according to ABC News, and the hacker group Anonymous seeks to produce documents that will exonerate him.
Whether Hermann and former prosecutor Kratz continue to be seen as the villains in this story will play out as Anonymous and others attempt to turn over new evidence. Those who have finished the series and love it may eventually know more. According to an interview with BuzzFeed, Making a Murderer filmmakers Ricciardi and Demos "do intend to continue to follow this story."
Images: Making a Murderer/Netflix