SPOILER ALERT: If you are waiting to watch the end of “Making a Murderer” to find out what happens to Steven Avery, do not read this story.
In just two weeks, nearly 183,000 people have been so moved by Netflix’s runaway hit ‘Making a Murderer’ they have signed petitions asking for the president to pardon the documentary series’ subject Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man serving life in prison.
Since being created in late December, nearly 20,000 signatures have been collected on a Whitehouse.gov petition and an additional 163,000 have signed a Change.org petition calling for a presidential pardon for Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey.
Both Avery and Dassey are currently serving life sentences for the murder of photographer Theresa Halbach in 2005.
“After viewing [the documentary series], I am outraged with the injustices which have been allowed to compound and left unchecked in the case of Steven Avery of Manitowoc County in Wisconsin, U.S.A.,” the Change.org petition’s creator writes. “Avery’s unconstitutional mistreatment at the hands of corrupt local law enforcement is completely unacceptable and is an abomination of due process.”
If the government petition collects 100,000 signatures by January 16, the White House has to respond publicly.
The harrowing 10-episode true crime documentary series has both enraged and consumed fans. The series follows the murder case over ten years, and brings up many questions about the veracity of the evidence prosecutors used to convict both men of the crime — including a confession by Brendan, who was just 16 years old at the time and learning disabled, that he says is completely false.
“Based on the evidence in the Netflix documentary series,” the Whitehouse.gov petition writes, “The justice system embarrassingly failed both men, completely ruining their entire lives. There is clear evidence that the Manitowoc County sheriff’s department used improper methods to convict both Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey.”
Filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos produced the series chronicling the process that led to Avery’s conviction in Wisconsin’s Manitowoc County in 2005.
Avery’s attorneys fought tirelessly for his freedom, suggesting throughout the series that police wanted to frame his client. In many points, there is a stark contrast to what was told to the public during the time to the reality shown of how the alleged evidence was uncovered by local law enforcement and the tactics used over the course of years to put Avery behind bars.
Prosecutor Ken Kratz has defended himself after the onslaught of criticism and global attention, saying the case is slanted toward the defense. He says the filmmakers didn’t give him a chance to answer any of the defense attorneys’ allegations. He also says the filmmakers haven’t presented as much as 90 percent of the physical evidence linking Avery to the crime.
In response to Kratz’s comments, filmmaker Ricciardi told The Wrap: “Ken Kratz is entitled to his own opinion, but he’s not entitled to his own facts.”
Ricciardi and Demos spent 10 years following the Avery family’s struggle, capturing 700 hours of footage throughout the investigation and trial.
Riccardi’s partner Demos added to the Wrap: “I guess I would ask Kratz what he would trade it for. We tried to choose what we thought was Kratz’s strongest evidence pointing toward Steven’s guilt, the things he talked about at his press conferences, the things that were really damning toward Steven. That’s what we put in.”
After finishing the powerful 10 episodes, thousands of fans have taken to social media expressing sleepless nights spent wondering what legal options are left for both men, and whether any other suspects have emerged since the documentary was released.
Tens of thousands of comments on Making A Murderer’s Reddit subthread have come up with their own theories or even taken it upon themselves to try to find new facts in the case that they hope can bring the men justice.