If you haven’t watched “Making A Murderer”on Netflix, go watch it. This will contain spoilers.
My first reaction (which was undoubtedly the intent of the filmmaker) was that of sympathy. This guy got seriously screwed by the system back in the 80’s. That much is certain.
But after finishing the last installment (of which there are 10), I’m just totally flabbergasted. Yes, flabbergasted. This entire situation was the most calamitous, chaotic case of pandemonium I could ever imagine. I doubt even the best mystery writers could have penned a more hashed out, twisted story. And this actually happened (well technically we don’t know what the hell happened, but you know what I mean)!
Here are the super brief cliff notes if you don’t have an entire day to binge watch 10 hour long episodes of infuriating drama:
Steven Avery, a very low-income dude with an IQ of 70 (according to the documentary) in Wisconsin was imprisoned for sexual assault back in the 80s. Eighteen years later he’s exonerated because DNA technology says he didn’t do it, simultaneously exposing many of the flaws in our judicial system. So he becomes a huge criminal justice sensation, photo ops ensue, yada yada.
Well, plot twist: not long after filing a $36M suit against the city for false imprisonment, he gets pegged (again) for (this time) the murder of a photographer that was taking pictures at his property for an auto magazine (the Avery family owns a junkyard).
The documentary follows the entire process over the years and years it played out. So in an attempt to make an absurdly long, complicated story short, basically the defense argues that the cops planted evidence to frame Steven in order to cover up their ineptitude and its resulting lawsuit from the previous false conviction (the rape trial in the ’80s).
So after you watch this beautiful, episodic calamity, you’re left with a sour taste in your mouth. Ultimately Steven (and his nephew, long story) wind up in jail to this day. And if you stop here, you’ll most likely sign the petition and be very upset about it all.
HOWEVER. Do a little research into what wasn’t presented in the film. You’ll find some eyebrow-raising information that might lead you to believe there’s more to the story. Things like the fact that the cat-burning episode wasn’t an accident. And that he specifically asked for that particular photographer to take the photos. And that he called her three times that day (twice from a *67 #). Couple all that with those creepy letters Steven wrote to his kids about killing his wife, and, well….who knows.
At the end of the day…I have absolutely no idea what to think. Part of me thinks he did it, but based on the evidence there really wasn’t enough to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt. The other part of me thinks he’s just an innocent victim of a corrupt system. So, like many others, I honestly don’t know what to think as far as what transpired. I do, however, have some concrete take-aways from the experience.
There are some pretty clear flaws in the justice system. After seeing it all presented and listening to the depositions and whatnot, much of the treatment rendered (particularly toward Brenden) seemed unethical. Sure, he was a minor, and admittedly of very low intellect. But the condescending and coercive treatment he received was sad. Whether he did a bad thing or not, its hard not to sympathize with someone who just doesn’t seem to be able to think clearly.
Another thing is that this whole “jury” thing is pretty clearly not the most effective way to implement justice. The first episode sort of blows that one out of the water. What happened later on is a separate issue, but this guy lost 18 years of his life for something he did not do. And it was based upon the deliberations of a jury. Its a shining example of an imperfect system. Granted, that would beg the question of what else can we do? Good question. I’ll get back to you on that (i.e. I have no idea).
The Steven Avery case is…complex. There are so many moving parts and dynamic witnesses that its impossible to really know what the heck happened. But there are obvious lessons to be learned from this debacle, nonetheless. Our criminal justice system needs a serious review. Corruption, as this case seems to show, is rampant on every rung of the societal ladder.
Oh, and one last thing we can learn from this case (thanks to prosecutor Ken Kratz):
DON’T SEND NUDES