“Here they come,” a voice says behind a shaking home video camera, “after eighteen years.”
Fuzzy footage of 41-year-old Steven Avery’s homecoming flashes onto the screen. Avery mutters in a thick Wisconsin accent, “Oh, hello”, as he steps out of a car to a welcoming crowd of newscasters. They swarm him while he embraces his family and flashes his wide smile to everyone. It was the opening clip of “Making a Murderer” and I was already flushed with questions.
After being convicted of sexual assault in 1985, Steven Avery was released when DNA evidence exonerated him and proved he wasn’t the man who raped fellow Manitowoc citizen, Penny Beerntsen.
Eighteen years spent in prison missing the birth of his child, countless birthdays and the raising of his children, all for some horrific crime he didn’t even commit. “Making a Murderer” was already making me tear up on behalf of a convicted rapist.
The 10-part Netflix original docuseries was more shocking than the infamous season 6, episode 23 of Grey’s Anatomy (non-Grey’s fans, you won’t get it). I was torn while watching Meredith get shot at, but even more while I watched our justice system turn one man into the most unlucky person in the U.S.
The title “Making a Murderer” reflects the general question brought on by the series about an uneducated man battling with law enforcement for three decades. Was he made into a murderer by evidence planted on him?
The war started when Avery was let out of prison in 2003 following the Beertsen incident in 1985. Avery filed a lawsuit but settled for petty cash
Two years after the lawsuit, Avery was again caught up with law enforcement when he was charged with murder. It was all too familiar to Avery – certain evidence (clearly planted by the sheriffs) was found in the Avery Auto Salvage Yard and after a two-year trial, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Avery really couldn’t get a break and at this point, being wrongfully convicted twice in 22 years.
The series presented two major questions that were incredibly hard to answer: did Avery murder Teresa after being conformed into a criminal while in prison? Or was he literally made into a murderer, suggesting that Manitowoc law enforcement framed Avery because of the embarrassment caused by their first screw-up and costing them $36 million.
The drama of the show is clear while listening to spiels of the lawyers claiming their view on the case, making this show a total thriller. Piles of evidence for and against Avery was shoved at me in every episode. I went back and forth every 20 minutes, thinking he was guilty then thinking he was innocent. I struggled to make up my mind.
The engrossing show kept me up late every night, watching episode after episode, messing with my sleep schedule even more. I developed a craving for the show, forcing my fingers to quickly click on the next one.
At the end of the week it took me to watch it, I was left with countless questions about Avery. I debated with myself for a while, going through the facts in my head. At the end of my self-discussion I found myself believing 100 percent that Avery was an innocent man tangled up in a poor justice system for 30 years of his life.
I grabbed my phone as soon as the screen on my laptop went black and Googled “Steven Avery”. Avery is still in jail, still fighting and still claiming he is innocent eight years into his sentence. I found a petition online and signed it immediately to release the poor man that I felt I knew personally.