Steven Avery may still be behind bars, but more than 100,000 people have signed a petition that could change that.
The subject of the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer, Avery is in prison after being convicted of murdering photographer Teresa Habach. The documentary suggests that the conviction was contrived by prosecutors in retribution for a $36 million lawsuit Avery had filed. Avery spent 18 years in prison after being falsely convicted of rape, and reports called him a “pebble in the shoe” of local prosecutors he was suing for compensation.
Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, was also convicted for his alleged involvement in the murder.
But the attention garnered by Making a Murderer has many people calling for the pair to be pardoned. A Steven Avery petition on Whitehouse.gov has amassed 18,000 signatures, and a separate petition on Change.org has 100,000 signatures.
Have you seen Making A Murderer on Netflix? Outraged? If so join the cause https://t.co/5jDqSiCpqB and if not cancel plans and watch!
— Jeff Probst (@JeffProbst) January 3, 2016
Both petitions call for authorities to re-examine the case, and the White House petition directly calls for President Barack Obama to pardon Steven Avery.
“There is clear evidence that the Manitowoc County sheriff’s department used improper methods to convict both Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey.
“This is a black mark on the justice system as a whole, and should be recognized as such, while also giving these men the ability to live as normal a life as possible.”
While it may be further behind, the Steven Avery petition on Whitehouse.gov could have a huge impact.
Despite the growing support for Steven Avery, Making a Murderer is not without its critics. Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz, a target of the series, called out filmmakers for what he believed was omitting several key pieces of evidence.
The key evidence ‘left out’ of Making a Murderer https://t.co/Bm1ClhODIE
— The Independent (@Independent) January 2, 2016
Kratz noted that Avery “targeted” Halbach after the photographer showed up for an October 10, 2005, visit to his family’s property for an AutoTrader photo shoot. Kratz said Avery opened the door to her wearing just a towel, which Halbach found off-putting.
“She was creeped out [by him],” Kratz said. “She [went to her employer and] said she would not go back because she was scared of him.”
Kratz said on the day Halbach was killed, Avery called AutoTrader magazine and asked if they could send “that same girl who was here last time.” That call was left out of Making a Murderer, Kratz said.
Laura Ricciardi argued that the filmmakers could not fit all of the evidence into the documentary, and had to make some editorial decisions.
“It was a nearly six-week-long trial, and it would just be impossible for us to include all of the less significant evidence,” Ricciardi told the Wrap.
She added: “Without getting into trying to refute specific pieces of evidence, I would say that our role here was as documentarians. We were not advocates. We’re not part of an adversarial system. We were documenting this case as it was unfolding.”
But Ricciardi said they ultimately stood by Making a Murderer.
“Ken Kratz is entitled to his own opinion, but he’s not entitled to his own facts,” she said. “If he’d like to put together a documentary and try to discredit us in some way, he’s welcome to do that. We’re not going to be pulled into re-litigating the Halbach case with him.”
The Steven Avery petition still needs a push in order to get a formal response. The White House petition calling for a pardon for the Making a Murderer subject still needs close to 80,000 more signatures in the next two weeks for the White House to respond.
[Image via Netflix]