Making a Murderer documentary filmmakers responded to the criticism of leaving crucial evidence out of the 10-part Netflix documentary that centers around the investigation and ultimate conviction of Wisconsin resident Steven Avery.
ABC News reports that the Making a Murderer filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi, who spent 10 years working on the documentary, are facing massive criticism for leaving key evidence out of the film, something that Ken Kratz, a Wisconsin defense attorney, took issue with.
“This is not a documentary at all. It’s still a defense advocacy piece. Their bias, their outcome, where they want the viewers to go with this, what they spoon feed the viewers, what they pick and choose by way of facts, what they leave out, importantly, causes only one reaction and only one conclusion: that Mr. Avery was innocent, and that he was the subject of planted evidence.”
Although the filmmakers have never denied that they left a lot of the crucial evidence out, they indicated that it would have been impossible to include everything in the film. According to Ricciardi,
“It would be impossible for us to include all the evidence that was presented in the trial. That’s called a trial. What we made was a documentary.”
Yet, Kratz feels that the evidence left out was so damning that if included in the film, would have given many viewers a much different opinion about the case. Some of the key evidence removed from the documentary include the following.
- Avery’s DNA found on the hood latch of Teresa Halbach’s red Toyota RAV4.
- An opening in the back of Steven Avery’s nightstand, where Halbach’s RAV4 key may have been hidden, but fell loose during the search.
- Avery blocked his phone number and gave a different name when calling AutoTrader magazine to request Teresa Halbach’s services.
- While serving his first stint in prison, Avery bragged about wanting to kill and torture women, even drawing a diagram of a “torture room.”
Kratz stated that out of all of the evidence left out, Steven Avery’s actions when calling AutoTrader is the most incriminating act of all. Kratz said that Avery didn’t stumble upon Halbach by accident. In 2005, Halbach worked as a freelance photographer for the popular AutoTrader Magazine, where she would visit various places and photograph vehicles for sale.
Halbach had already visited Avery’s residence a few times prior to photograph cars that the family had for sale. Shortly after her visits, Avery began calling the magazine on numerous occasions, but each time he used the *67 phone function to block out his number, and then left a different number and his sister’s name.
He also called Halbach’s personal office number to request that she personally come back to his property to take photos of a van. These actions, according to Kratz, show that Halbach’s visit to Avery was not accidental.
“Steven Avery did not just come upon Teresa Halbach by accident, he targeted her. He called the AutoTrader Magazine and asked for that same girl to come on the 31st of October that had been there at least six times prior. He gave a different phone number, used his sister’s name.”
Yet, the documentary filmmakers defended their decision to leave that part out of the film because they said that it made no sense. They felt if Avery intended to kill Halbach, he wouldn’t have made the appointments for her visit his property in the first place. Katz thinks Avery simply made “some incredibly short-sighted decisions” on the day of the murder and didn’t think everything through.
“He didn’t just want some girl there… He didn’t leave his number, or his name and so he believed, at least my theory is, that using a different name and a different phone number was good enough.”
Due to the controversy and popularity surrounding the film, a second Making a Murderer may be in the works. The follow-up film, according to the Independent, may feature interviews with Steven Avery and may provide additional evidence. Demos said that although a follow-up isn’t set in stone, the possibility is definitely out there.
“As we said before, in relation to this story, this story is ongoing, these cases are open. It’s real-life so you don’t know what’s going to happen. We are ready… if there are significant developments, we will be there. And we are looking at other stories, as well.”
Steven Avery remains at the Waupun Correctional Institute in Waupun, Wisconsin, where he’s serving a life sentence for the murder of Halbach.
[Photo by Morry Gash/AP Images, Pool]