True crime documentaries often condense events into 43 minutes on television. 88 minutes seems sprawling by comparison, if the filmmaker is allowed time to stretch their legs and really dig into a case. For Netflix’s 2015 series Making a Murderer, directors Laura Ricciardi & Moira Demos had over ten hours to explore their subject, Steven Avery, and still the audience is left wanting more.
Steven Avery is by no means a saint. He is by no means a rocket scientist. He also likes to drink, and he grew up in a somewhat cloistered environment in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, which largely revolved around the family auto parts junkyard on the outskirts of Mishicot. Add these things together, and it is no surprise that, as a young man, Steve had his fair share of interaction with local law enforcement.
At the age of 23, Steven was picked out of a lineup by a rape victim who had barely escaped her ordeal alive. He was sentenced to 32 years in prison, and served eighteen of them. In 2003, Steve didn’t come up for parole; he was found innocent. DNA evidence proved what Avery had claimed all along- that he did not commit the crime. He consistently maintained his innocence despite the fact that an admission of guilt would have made him eligible for parole under Wisconsin state law.
Upon his release, Steven became the literal poster child for wrongful conviction legislature in Wisconsin State, pursued a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the County, and returned to his family home in Two Rivers. It would not be a stretch of the imagination to think Steven would walk the straight and narrow after 18 years behind bars and with millions of dollars likely in his near future. However, the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department and neighboring Calumet County’s District Attorney Ken Kratz expect you to believe that Steve Avery made an appointment with an auto magazine for a photographer to visit his home, and brutally assaulted, murdered, and then mutilated the corpse of that same photographer.
Granted, this series does take the stance which supports Avery’s innocence, but I can honestly say, at no time in the 10 hours of documentation did I have a moment of doubt in which I thought perhaps he committed the crimes of which he was accused. The true crime, from my perspective, is the miscarriage of justice and the blatant underhanded ignorance of justice perpetrated by the prosecution and the complicity of investigators in the framing of an innocent man.
It is impossible to effectively convey the incomprehensible sequence of events which led Steven Avery back to prison, without the audience seeing them unfold and compound on film. I would strongly urge you to watch this series, and if you do not currently subscribe to Netflix, I suggest signing up for a free trial simply to watch this show.