Shock. Disgust. Anger. Disbelief. Rage. Those were the main feelings I had while watching Making a Murderer. My favorite documentary has been Cocaine Cowboys for many years, but MaM thunders on through 10 episodes of absolute injustice and evil of the Manitowoc, Wisconsin police and the completely bent Criminal Justice system. This is a tale you won’t soon forget and want to talk about with everyone you meet.
The story of Making a Murder is Steven Avery. While he’s far from an angel, racking up a rap sheet by the time he was 18, he didn’t try to hide from what he had done and served his time. Then, in 1985, he’s accused of raping a woman. Despite spotty at best detective work (I’m being polite) and a multiple eyewitness backed alibi that is ignored for some reason, he was declared guilty and locked up for 18 years. In 2003, he’s exonerated through new DNA evidence. He said he was innocent the whole time and that the Manitowoc PD had it out for him. Two years later while his lawsuit against the county is underway (looking for millions in restitution and punitive damages and would ultimately end many careers and start serious reform), a woman who was last reported to be at the Avery scrap yard for work goes missing. The police come after Steven again and it happens all over again.
It sounds like a movie but it’s not. I’ve given a basic outline of the setup, but the follow through to condemn Steven Avery (and his family) is mindboggling. There was no hesitation, they thought Steven had to have done it. The following weeks of investigation construct a case for the ages.
I’m not going to get into great detail because you have to see this to get and process each bat shit crazy bit and it would take me hours to write about just a fraction of it.
The first case of 1985 is shocking in itself, Avery was clearly railroaded and the actual criminal went on to commit more sexual offenses for 10 more years. The cops got away with what they did to Steven. Steven wants justice and sues the county with corruption allegations. Law enforcement circles the wagons to protect themselves when a few of them go to court. As the film clearly shows, step by step, the MPD (the 2 higher ups and a specific deputy) went after Avery again with a shocking disregard for protocol, humanity and the law they were sworn to uphold.
Timelines that make no sense. Suspects that were completely ignored. Tampered with evidence. Exploiting a retarded child’s trust in authority with blatant and gross manipulation and rights dodging. Collusion between the prosecution and a shady defense lawyer. Written down instructions to get Avery associated with evidence that was improperly obtained. Admitted tainted DNA results. Blatant lies to the media and on the stand. Bizarre double talk. Bias that you would not believe (MPD says they will hand over the investigation to another district PD, but they remain are all over the scene, going back multiple times and magically finding “evidence”.)
I watched the 10 episodes in 4 days. I never do that. Clearly the filmmakers had a view of what was happening to Avery from the start (they filmed for 10 years) and push that narrative and it’s around 30 years condensed into 10 hours. Steve’s trial went for 6 weeks and was shown in about 2 episodes. His nephew Brendan’s trial went for 2 weeks and was shown in 1 episode. Sinister music is played during the bad guys talking to drive the point home. But it doesn’t take background music to make the likes of former (haha) District Attorney Ken Kratz into a villain. You just need to see how he conducts himself and smirks when talking about a murder investigation. The number of suspicious events (at the very least I think the MPD is incompetent) stokes a lot of reasonable doubt. It’s hard to understand how this all happened. But, again, this idea is fostered from getting all of the information in Avery’s favor in a neatly organized package instead of a lengthy trial). In order for a jury to convict, there has to be a lot of information that the prosecution gave that the filmmakers left out (which could be circumstantial evidence, but with how shady the MPD and Lawyer Len were, you’d imagine it would be pretty easy to flip in Avery’s favor. It’s suspicious though).
I was obsessed with watching this to the end. I have never been so shocked and disgusted from a documentary of what’s wrong with our justice system. There’s no one person to blame, the whole thing needs to be re-evaluated and remade. Hopefully Making a Murderer stirs the pot again and puts pressure on the right place. Every bit of this trial needs to be made public so we can get all of the information and not a heavily edited film.
A must watch.