The Steven Avery case

I am not sure if many of you will know this, but I read Law at university and have always had a keen interest in the law, especially criminal law. I loved Ally McBeal as a child and that’s what I wanted to do when I was younger – be a criminal lawyer. Fighting against crime! Sounds so far away from what I actually do now. But nevertheless I am still very interested in it all. It was only last week that hubby mentioned this documentary series that you can find on Netflix, Creating a murderer, that I heard about the Steven Avery case and my mind went crazy with theories and thoughts. The documentary is amazing, we have only watched the first two episodes but I am gripped. Such lengths they went to capture information and footage, it was filmed over 10 years.

Image from Gazetter Review

Steven Avery history

So, for those of you who haven’t heard of Steven Avery, he is basically the guy from Wisconsin that was jailed for 18 years for a crime he did not commit. Before this, he did have a run in with the law a few times and had spent a number of years in prison – for burglary in a bar, setting fire to his “alive” cat and for assaulting his cousin and possessing a firearm. Now it was this cousin that bears the link to the next charge. In 1985, he was arrested for raping a young lady, Penny Beerntsen. This was because Penny,  described what the suspect looked like to  and someone from the police force suggest “that sounds like Steven Avery”.  Penny pointed out Steven in a line up of 9 men and it was testified that a hair from Steven’s shirt was Penny’s. Now it is also worth noting at this point, the Netflix documentary focusses on the cousin that Steven had a run in with in previous years, she was married to the Manitowoc County sheriff’s deputy. It was suggested that because of this run in, the police force had it in for Steven. Hence the quick comment about the suspect sounding like Steven.

Steven had 16 alibi’s for that evening the rape took place, including reciepts and shop owners. The jury deliberated for just 4 hours and convicted Avery almost exclusively on the eyewitness account, on December 14, 1985. He was sentenced to 32 years in prison. 32 years?! Can you imagine being faced with that, knowing that you did not do the crime and also having all of those alibi’s that were simply ignored? How can you explain to someone you didn’t do it, if you didn’t do it? What I mean is, if someone is lying it is easy to trip them up – get them to blurt out the truth. But you cannot make things up if you are innocent, you can’t slip up the truth as you don’t know what happened, you was not there!

After trying to appeal his conviction several times and failing, he managed to get a petition for DNA testing approved in 1995 – which meant that they could test the DNA from the scrappings underneath Penny’s nails. This DNA came up as unknown person, which clearly wasn’t Steven’s – yet he still remained in prison. I just dont get it. Why would you not be asking questions about the scrappings?

He had 16 alibi’s which made it physically impossible for Steven to have been in the same place as the rape at the time and now the DNA underneath Penny’s nails had a different DNA source than that of Steven’s. Would that not trigger some kind of process?

Getting him out of prison

So failing several appeals, the new DNA evidence to indicate there is someone elses DNA under Penny’s nails – what options do you have? Thankfully in the USA there is a group called the Wisconsin Innocence Project and they accepted Steven’s case and decided to help him. They recovered 13 hairs from Penny from the scene of the assault and just one of those tiny hairs came up as a match for a Gregory Allen. Who had been known to the police at the time of the assault as committing crimes in the area. They had ignored Gregory Allen though, as they focussed on arresting Steven.

On September 11, 2003 the Wisconsin Innocence Project asked for the charges against Steven to be dropped and they were. He was a free man once again. He went back to his normal life and working in the scrapyard family business. He met a new lady and tried to move on with what was his normality. At the same time he was pushing to sue the police force for falsly accusing him of a crime he didnt commit. It was funny, as in the documentary they mentioned that they did not warn Steven he would be set up for murder if he took on the police force and literally throughout the second episode he was arrested for murdering Teresa Halbach. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
If you had spent 18 years in prison, for a crime you didn’t committ – would you seriously rape and kill a young lady on your own property, burn her to bones outside your own house and throw her car in your own scrapyard? I literally cannot comprehend this. Steven is still in prison today for this murder, he was convicted and so was his nephew. He says he didnt do it and that he was set up by the police so they didn’t have to pay out for his compensation.
 

The murder charge

 
I cannot work out if I feel sorry for him and think he has been set up – or if he is just really silly to think he would get away with killing someone after all of his media attention and awareness to the police force. There is a petition going around the world to get him out of jail. You may have seen him in the news lately too as the Netflix documentary has forced people to be aware of what is going on. I guess my only option is carry on watching the rest of the season, which covers the trial and work out for myself if he did the murder or not. For example, at the moment I have no idea if there was actual DNA evidence of Steven on the victim and if he was even at the yard the time she was murdered. Also the nephew was convicted and imprisoned so I need to work out what happened with him. Maybe that will answer a few more of my questions and paint a better picture.
 
It is one of the best series I have seen and extremely interesting. What do you think? Is Steven Avery guilty or innocent?
 

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3 Comments

  • My husband and I were hooked on this, we watched it all over about 3 days. From watching the documentary you pretty much end up thinking that he’s innocent, but having read into the case a bit more I’m not so sure, the documentary was definitely biased to make you think that. It will be interesting to see what happens now that so many people know about the case and have opinions about it.

    • Its an amazing documentary isnt it? 🙂

      I cannot be sure if he did it or not. There is a lot to suggest that things were planted. My main question is – WHY would he do that? Why on his own ground? When she was booked in to visit him? Why is he so passionate about trying to prove people wrong? I hope his new lawyer has got some concrete proof, it all seemed circumstantial to me.

      Also, my only conclusion is that he definitely did NOT have a fair trial! 🙂 x

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