5 Things I Learned Watching ‘Making a Murderer’

Photo Credit: Netflix.com

I almost dreaded watching it. There were too many people on my Facebook timeline yelling at the TV, angry, experiencing a slew of feels I wasn’t trying to join. Nevertheless, after a good amount of peer pressure, I’d succumb to the documentary already in my Netflix queue and begin a journey that has still left me befuddled.

Filmmakers Mora Demos and Laura Ricciardi capture ten years of a man’s life in ten episodes, with the documentary Making a Murderer. I had no knowledge of the story so I watched it without bias. After the second episode, I found myself participating in those same screams at my TV, hitting pause on my Roku to grab a much-needed drink, and waiting a day or two to finish a three episode binge because my brain was exhausted — overloaded with this obscure sense of bewilderment. Each episode showed bit-by-bit how a small town, literally made Steven Avery and his nephew, Brennan Dassey, into murderers.

The clues were so obvious.

Photo credit: Associated Press

Without giving it all away, it all started with an angry cousin who happened to be married to the sheriff and positioned Avery to be wrongly convicted of rape. Eighteen years later, he was exonerated only to be once again found in court for the murder of AutoTrader photographer Teresa Halbac.

The steps that occurred from the first sentencing to Avery’s current life sentence once again left me befuddled — amazed at the great lengths made to tear someone down. It was a classic case of the misuse of authority, position and power. A conspiracy theory happening in real time that really wasn’t that calculated.

There’s a myriad of takeaways from the documentary but here are my top 5:

  1. Whoever controls the media sets the tone. On both occasions, Avery was unable to receive a fair trial because he was dragged through the media with a pre-stamped guilty tag on his forehead. So much for the Bill of Rights.
  2. People will always hate you for being different. There’s someone, somewhere in the atmosphere just mad because you chose to color outside the lines. Know that whoever this person is, they’re plotting ways to either tear you down or make your conform.
  3. Critical thinking skills are more uncommon than we think. At least 75% of the people who watched Making a Murderer (and I’m going out on a limb here), clearly saw that there was reasonable doubt of Avery’s guilt. I mean, they had no body which many of us would suspect is a key element in convicting someone of murder. There were no traces of blood anywhere in Avery’s trailer (until the 7th time they searched it), no trail or clues that would indicate someone attempting to cover anything up. There was nothing substantial to physically pin him to the crime. Honestly, the only one way to summarize the evidence is either Steven Avery’s pretty stupid or someone framed him. Somehow 12 people saw all these facts different from the rest of us who watched the series.
  4. No matter how many times you show people the truth, they will still believe a lie: see number three.
  5. Never miss out on an opportunity to tell your side. With every story, there’s always three sides and in between there’s the truth. It killed me to see Avery decline his right to testify. For some reason he felt there was no need to justify his why because…he simply didn’t do it. Wrong move. People need to connect with you. They need to see your emotion, your body language, your tone of voice. It’s an opportunity (risky as it may) to be authentically yourself. Most people would presume if you were innocent, there should be nothing to hide. When you tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said. Don’t ever miss out on an opportunity to give someone your ass to kiss with the truth.

The worse part of the documentary for me was watching how quickly members of the Avery clan sold out Steven. Even Brennan’s mother (Steven’s sister) turned on him, only to later realize her son was manipulated so far beyond repair, it was difficult to trust anything he said.

The homework was done.

Those people in position knew exactly how to get key members of the Avery family to create false testimony and use it in court, only to be discredited on the stand, and still have their statements obtain a conviction. There was never a moment for a loss.

Recently Avery released a letter to ABC news affiliate WISN 12 still claiming his innocence.

Dan Harris of ABC’s Nightline conducted a two-part follow-up of the documentary. Ken Kratz — the villain…er uh…prosecutor in the case complained about “key evidence” not shown in the documentary. Such as evidence included Avery’s sweat found on the hood of Teresa Halbac’s car, his theory of Avery targeting her and other things he’s certain that led to Avery’s conviction. When Harris asked why no one tested Halbac’s car for fingerprints Kratz responded, “I don’t know.”

Photo credits: abcnews.com

Had I been the juror who helped put a man in jail based on “circumstantial forensic evidence,” as was the focus of this case, I’d feel like an ass after watching that.

I confess, I didn’t continue passed Avery being convicted. I couldn’t watch anymore. My mind was done in. Despite how emotionally involved I was in the series, I wasn’t surprised at what happened to Avery. His story mimics many who’s voices are never heard.

Making a Murderer is a reminder that power players might wear the cloak of accountability, but if you don’t take that win quietly, they will enforce every action possible to shut you up.

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