Who Is Steven Avery? You Have To Watch 'Making A Murderer' To Really Know
The new Netflix docu-series Making A Murderer is the story of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who was imprisoned in 1985. After serving 18 years in prison for the rape of a Manitowoc woman, Penny Beerntsen, he was exonerated thanks to the Wisconsin Innocence Project. By all accounts, the Steven Avery story was a perfect example of how the American justice system can sometimes systematically fail citizens. Even his first arrests were questioned by Avery's family because of his estranged cousin's involvement with local law enforcement.
This is where the story gets crazy. In 2003 after being released, Avery sued Manitowoc County and its district attorney for $36 million. He was the face of the Innocence Project. Then in 2005, a photographer named Theresa Holbach was found dead. On the same day she went missing, Avery was arrested and charged with her murder. Avery claimed that his lawsuit was being held against him and the county was framing her for her death, but he was charged and sentenced with her murder anyway.
The case is public, but unless you keep on small town law and order stories it’s possible you missed it. In that case: no spoilers until you watch the whole series. Because there are lots of twists. If there are two sides to most stories, Steven Avery's story has way more sides than that. There are sexual assault victims, Avery's lawyers, one very dedicated mother, neighbors, a suspect sheriff, other suspects, and even a cat. And they all have questionable motives.
Ok, well, not the cat.
Avery himself is eliciting a lot of support on social media:
One episode into #MakingAMurderer and the craziest part so far is that Steven Avery didn't own any underwear— Steve-O (@shan_stephen) December 19, 2015
dean strang's little moments of insight into the broader context of Stephen Avery's life are nothing short of extraordinary #MakingAMurderer— Gucci Maine (@sarahesoltan) December 21, 2015
Anyone watching the Making a Murderer documentary on Netflix? Need someone to discuss Steven Avery with. This is bananas.— Stuart R. Owens (@StuartROwens) December 21, 2015
I hope Making a Murderer ends with Steve Avery getting a fun 50th birthday surprise party.— Amanda Brooke Perrin (@brookeperrin) December 22, 2015
It’s a bit like “Serial” in that it follows a true, real subject and there’s not much narration to pull your heartstrings. Like "Serial" it asks you to think about a guilty man acts, how an innocent man acts, and if that matters. Avery isn't perfect. But Manitowoc County isn’t perfect either. Can one man be framed over and over again? Can social class and family feuds and personal prejudices foster criminal intent? The early half of the series says maybe.
It's not easy, but it will subsume you. Here’s to winter binge-watching.