"Making a Murderer" creates buzz, threats for Avery prosecutor
MANITOWOC COUNTY —
In five days since its release, plenty of buzz has been generated about the Netflix series "Making A Murderer."
The series takes an in-depth look at Steven Avery and his history with Manitowoc County law enforcement.
The creators and executive producers, Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, were New York film graduate students when a New York Times article about Avery drew them to Manitowoc County. They boiled hundreds of hours of footage into 10, one hour episodes.
After spending 18 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, Avery was a free man in 2003. However, two years later, Avery was arrested for the murder of Teresa Halbach. Avery's nephew, Brendan Dassey, was arrested for his role in the murder a few months later. Netflix's "Making A Murderer" has a much wider audience learning about the story ten years later.
"When we started this project, we cast a very wide net," said Demos. "People had very different responses to the invitation to participate."
Members of Avery's defense team were among willing participants. Throughout the series, the defense suggests the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Department planted evidence to frame Avery for murder. It's a theory series' viewers are heavily backing on social media, leading to online petitions to free Avery from his life sentence.
"We just think it's important for people to be reflecting on this and talking about it and trying to process it in a healthy way," said Ricciardi.
"Anytime you edit 18 months' worth of information and only include the statements or pieces that support your particular conclusion, that conclusion should be reached," said Ken Kratz, the special prosecutor on Avery's murder case.
Kratz says before the series' release, he wasn't provided the opportunity to answer any allegations made. Kratz says that's led to him receiving dozens of threatening and insulting messages.
"Suggestions that I shouldn't even be walking around was offered, the good cheer that I happen to develop stomach cancer for Christmas and really lots of really troubling pieces of correspondence," said Kratz.
"Making a Murderer" producers say Kratz was provided opportunities to speak with them. Despite more participation from the defense than prosecution, the producers say they tried to show all viewpoints.
"We believe the series is representative of what we witnessed," said Demos. "The key pieces of the state's evidence are included in the series."
"I believe there to be 80 to 90 percent of the physical evidence, the forensic evidence, that ties Steven Avery to this murder never to have been presented in this documentary," said Kratz.
Kratz believes Netflix should provide an opportunity for his side of the case to be told.
As for series producers, they say they plan to continue to follow any new developments with Avery.
The Halbach family did not return FOX 11's phone call about the Netflix series. A month ago, family members said in a statement they were saddened to learn that individuals and corporations continue to create entertainment and to seek profit from their loss.
Avery and Dassey were both sentenced to life in prison. Both have lost all state appeals. Dassey has a chance for parole in 2048.