I finished watching this documentary the weekend it was released. I’ve now had time to reflect and do some internet research. Here are my thoughts in no particular order:
1.Steven Avery was never going to get a fair shake in that town. I’m not familiar with Wisconsin, and have never been there. However, given the way this town was portrayed, it seemed like if you didn’t fit the “norm” you were shunned. Mr. Avery didn’t help himself with his physical appearance and general behavior in the community. I’m not saying it’s right to judge someone based on his appearance but let’s face it folks, it happens and I deal with reality on this blog.
Putting his wrongful conviction for Ms. Bernstein’s rape aside, I got the sense that the community didn’t like the Averys, people were ashamed of them, and that any chance to put them in a negative light was welcomed. That just laid the groundwork for what was to come.
2.Steven Avery is guilty of the murder of Ms. Halbach. I kept an open mind throughout the entire series but there were just too many red flags for me. About halfway through the “documentary” I realized that this was a defense-driven movie masquerading as a documentary. The producers did a good job of pretending to be objective but the more I thought about it it was obvious that they had an agenda. They succeeded in that regard as now everyone is talking about the series, which I think is a good thing in general as far as the criminal justice system goes.
I just can’t get past the bones on the property, the key, the blood (and sweat) in the car, and the bullet linked to Mr. Avery’s gun. To be fair, the producers didn’t do a good job of presenting all of the forensic evidence that the jury heard and saw. I had a hard time believing that Ms. Halbach was killed inside of the trailer but there was no blood evidence. However, I’ve since read online that the producers didn’t present all of the evidence as the jury heard it so it’s a bit misleading. I understand that producers have to edit for brevity but I believe they left out a lot of crucial details to slant the story the way that they wanted to.
I was also bothered by the fact that Mr. Avery didn’t testify. I know you’re not supposed to hold that against a criminal defendant if you’re on the jury, but this blog is the court of public opinion. If he was innocent, he should have been rushing that witness box to tell us so. I was floored that he didn’t testify. I’m sure it was a tactical decision but in my view it was a mistake. I suspect that the defense attorneys didn’t want the prosecutors to be able to rehash all of Mr. Avery’s past misdeeds and foibles. I understand that is a risk but I would have taken it if I were innocent.
3.The police played a part in “framing’ Mr. Avery. It’s too convenient that Lenk and Colborn just happened to be there when the key was found inside of the trailer. I was also disappointed that the radio call Colborn received about Ms. Halbach’s license plate two days before “discovery” of the car wasn’t explored further. Perhaps it was with the jury, but the producers left it out? That was unclear to me and a big question. I believe that Mr. Avery committed the crime, and the police seized an opportunity to bolster the case by planting evidence. I don’t believe the police killed Ms. Halbach in order to frame Mr. Avery. That’s just too hard to believe and I can’t live in a society where I believe that’s possible.
4.The Halbach family deserves better. I thought the producers did an ok job of representing the victim but they didn’t do enough. I can’t imagine what the family must be going through now especially with all of this being revisited upon them 10 years later.
5.The producers showed us what they wanted us to see. At first, it really did seem like a documentary, but the further it went I could tell it was a defense piece. No doubt that Ken Kratz was a state-sponsored mouthpiece but he was the “villain” in this series and the producers played that to their advantage. Why didn’t the producers tell us about Mr. Avery’s sweat also being found in Ms. Halbach’s car? Why didn’t they tell us about the bullet matching Mr. Avery’s gun? Why didn’t they tell us that Mr. Avery specifically requested that Ms. Halbach come to his home when he called her employer that day? If this was a true documentary we deserved to know those things and arrive at our own decision.
6.Jerry Buting and Dean Strang are true heroes. I was in awe of the commitment and talent of Mr. Avery’s trial lawyers. What they accomplished in the courtroom was pure advocacy and their skills take decades, if one ever gets to that level, to hone. I also respected their demeanor in the courtroom and during press conferences, which was one of respect and decorum. Many times lawyers thrash about and yell, but these two are real class acts. Kudos.
7.Never let your minor child talk to the police unless you are present the entire time. I’ll never understand why Brendan’s mother allowed her son to talk to the police while she waited in the next room. That made no sense to me. It was clear that the police were leading him but why did he go along with it? I understand that Brendan is not the smartest kid but he put up no resistance whatsoever. He also admitted to being afraid of his uncle and that he had no choice but to cooperate with him re: the crime in a phone call to his mother. I believe he was involved in some way but I don’t think it happened the way he was forced to describe.
These are just a few of my thoughts on the series. I welcome your comments for a thoughtful and civil discussion. Thanks for reading.