If you still haven’t watched Neflix’s new documentary series Making a murderer, get your popcorn ready, run to your TV or computer and prepare yourself to get completely hypnotized during ten hours of revolt and indignation.
Written and directed by Laura Ricciari and Moira Demos, the series premiered last December and follows the story of Steven Avery, a citizen of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin who spent 18 years in jail for a crime he did not commit. In 2005, two years after being released, Steven is arrested once again, this time accused of murdering Teresa Halbach.
From now on, I should warn the readers who still haven’t watched the series to do it before carrying on reading this article once it contains spoilers.
For those who have watched it, there is no doubt that our Justice still fails a lot. Therefore, we ought not be naïve and believe in a perfect judicial system once it does not exist, at least for now.
It is worth mentioning that Steven’s case is just one example of the numerous times that the legal system has destroyed people’s lives. Perhaps the case attracted a lot of attention due to a certain lack of corruption in the American culture, especially in institutions such as the police.
When one is guilty until proven otherwise
The first time Steven is arrested, which works almost as a sign that the worst was yet to come, he becomes the target of Wisconsin police department merely because someone who disliked him had connections with the police. Although this first case, with its flawed evidences, is much less sophisticated than the second one, Steven is only set free with the development of new DNA technology. Later on, this same technology is manipulated in order to condemn Steven for Teresa’s murder.
The cynicism in the testimonies of those involved in the investigations is something that scares even the ones who are used to seeing politicians telling lies during their campaigns. It takes a lot of coldness to be indifferent towards something that could destroy someone’s and their family lives.
Fortunately, in the first case, justice was done even if behind time. When he was finally released, we see Steven, now with grey hair and a beard that covers almost his entire face, being welcome back home by his family. Certainly one of the happiest days in this man’s life who seems to always be, by the legal system’s eyes, guilty until proven otherwise.
After having his innocence proven, Steven was to receive a lawsuit estimated in 36 million dollars which would certainly help him to rebuild his life even though no amount of money would be able to repair the emotional damages that 18 years in prison may have caused. Moreover, Steven became a key character in a movement in favor of judicial reforms.
Naturally, this would be an important step into rethinking the role and operation of the American legal system. However, the Manitowoc County Police Department was not pleased at all with this present situation. How dare a low class citizen threat the reputation of family men as they insisted to classify themselves during their testimonies?
At first, Teresa Halbach’s murder would be the perfect crime to destroy Steven’s reputation once and for all and to recover the prestige of the Wisconsin’s legal department. In the episode which we are presented to the first details of the case, even if they sound like a quite absurd coincident, it is easy to let yourself believe that Steven is , indeed, a criminal. However, thanks to the brilliant work by Jeremi Buting and Dean Strang, Steven’s defense lawyers, we are presented to the questions that make us believe in that Steven is not guilty:
- How can Teresa’s car key (which was found in Steven’s trailer) only have his DNA and not Teresa’s, who used the key for years?
- How come the key was only found after several visits to the trailer even though it was at sight?
- How can we explain the fact that officer Andrew Colborn made a call to the Police department to confirm the registration number of a vehicle he had just found (Teresa’s car) days before her car was ʺfoundʺ in Steven’s property?
- Who deleted Teresa’s voicemail messages? (Her ex boyfriend admitted he knew the password).
- Why did the Police did not investigate other suspects including Teresa’s roommate who did not report her disappearance?
- Who took a sample of Steven’s blood from evidence material of his first conviction?
- How come no blood was found in Steven’s room or garage where Teresa was supposedly killed?
- Why there were blood stains in the back of Teresa’s car if she was killed inside Steven’s property?
- Who was constantly calling Teresa days before she was killed?
There are a number of unanswered questions during the whole series which ends up with Steven and his nephew Brendan Dassy (a teenage boy with low IQ) who ends up confessing his participation in the crime, being convicted to life imprisonment.
A second season of Making a murderer is still to be confirmed, but we will certainly hear a lot about Steven. In the beginning of this year, he started to count with the help of new defense lawyers to ask for a new trail.
Perhaps we will never know who actually killed Teresa Halbach or we might hear Steven confessing that he did kill her and that the series present us with the wrong version of the facts. The evidences, however, make us hope for a happy ending.
What is left for us to wish is that Steven’s parents are still alive to welcome their son back home once again.Read more
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