Watching Lately #15: Making a Murderer

Okay, so, we need to talk about Making a Murderer. I very much doubt you won’t have heard of it before, but if not go and watch it on Netflix now. Right now. Then come back and read the rest of this post. As a very quick summary, it’s a true crime documentary focusing on Steven Avery, who was wrongly convicted and sent to prison for 18 years then, shortly after his release, was embroiled in another high-profile murder trial. Is he innocent or guilty?

OH MY GOD. I love crime/murder documentaries and it seems like the rest of the world is finally on the same wavelength as me, as Making a Murderer has been all anyone has talked about for the past month. I watched it around Christmas, so have had a couple of weeks to stew it over and read up a bit more on the case. Shot over a 10 year period, filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos mainly follow the story of Steven Avery’s trial surrounding the murder of Teresa Halbach. The whole documentary had a very atmospheric feel to it, with lots of cinematic shots and moody scores and in some ways reminded me a lot of Fargo (probably mostly to do with their Midwestern accents and the almost comical incompetency of several parties). However, the thing that sets Making A Murderer apart from films like that is the fact that it is real. Completely and utterly real, even if it’s hard to believe such twists and turns could take place outside the realms of fiction.

Although the documentary is clearly biased towards Avery, they do a good job of not pushing any agendas and leave the conclusion quite open-ended. I think part of what has made Making a Murderer so popular is the fact that no one really knows what happened and pretty much everyone is still sitting on the fence and discussing theories. It’s unusual for me to come away from a documentary like this and not have a strong feeling as to whether he’s innocent or guilty. I’ve also recently watched The Jinx and listened to Serial and, although neither gave a definite conclusion either, I feel like I just know what the right answer is. With Steven Avery’s case, I’m not so sure. My heart is leaning towards innocent, but without access to all the evidence (or, in fact, without all the evidence even existing – thanks to Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department…) it’s impossible to know what really happened.

What I do know, however, is that there’s no way Steven Avery should have been convicted as guilty in the way that he was. The prosecution’s argument was full of holes and inexplicable timelines, and the evidence they did have seemed too convenient to be true. If I was on the jury, I’m not sure if I could have said he was innocent, but I definitely wouldn’t have said he was guilty. A large part of their argument was formed due to Brendan Dassey’s confession which – I think we can all agree – was completely false, and he was coerced into saying whatever suited the prosecution’s version of events. Out of everyone on the documentary, I feel bad for Brendan the most as there’s no way he’s guilty (can we just take a second for that heartbreaking moment when he asked his mum what inconsistent meant, ARGH POOR INNOCENT CHILD).

Okay, so on to some theories. I don’t have a strong feeling towards one person in particular (again, the lack of evidence and following up on potential leads at the time of the case makes it very hard to point fingers at anyone else) but there are a couple of people involved who seem a bit suspicious. Firstly, the ex-boyfriend Ryan Hillegas and brother Mike Halbach. It’s true what they say about your murderer is more likely to be someone you know than a random stranger, so I think the ex-boyfriend would’ve been a good place to start. The fact that he couldn’t remember when he last saw her, to the fact he was so quickly and deeply involved in the search (remember, EX) and also that he and the brother appear to have deleted some voicemails from Teresa’s phone. I also got the creeps when Mike mentioned something about wanting to “move on without Teresa in our lives” just a day or two after she was reported missing, before anyone had even confirmed Teresa was dead. Hmmmm. My second line of enquiry would be Scott Tadych and Bobby Dassey. They only had each other as alibis, gave very sketchy evidence and seemed strangely happy that Steven was accused of murder. And also the fact that Scott was trying to sell the same type of gun that was used in the murder just a few days later, and Bobby’s timeline didn’t match up with that of the bus driver. All these leads could come to nothing, but the fact that they were never investigated is very frustrating.

This post is getting pretty long now, so I think I’ll restrain myself from any more conspiracy theories! Please tell me you’ve watched it too, I need to DISCUSS. Leave a comment below with your thoughts, or just tell me how much you also love the dream team of Strang and Buting.

Oh, and if you enjoyed Making a Murderer I would highly recommend watching The Central Park Five and West of Memphis, as well as The Jinx and Serial mentioned above.

Gillian x

Gillian

Freelance social media and digital marketing consultant with a penchant for writing blog posts, drinking sickly sweet cocktails and exploring the cobbled streets of Edinburgh.

10 Comments

  • Christie says:

    That picture of Strang & Buting is everything haha! I really enjoy anything crime/murder docs (as weird as I feel saying that) and just couldn’t get over this one. Watched the whole thing in like three days and I still can’t decide whether I think Avery is innocent or guilty. The way the nephew was treated was awful – he definitely didn’t have a hope in hell, innocent or guilty.

    I was suspicious of the brother and the ex from the get go. Something just doesn’t sit right. And why wasn’t the ex boyfriend top suspect?!?!?!? And the fact that the police dept was involved all the way through even when everyone was told they weren’t. I know there’s a lot of counter arguements/evidence out there against Avery but surely no one can justify how the cops handled it all.

    Man I thought I was over beeling about this show, clearly not haha x

    • Gillian says:

      Those are pretty much my exact thoughts as well! Whether innocent or not, there’s no denying that the sheriff’s department handled the whole thing very badly and it just makes you despair for the whole justice system. Even if he is guilty, there’s no way he murdered her in the trailer/garage like they claimed (unless he is secretly Dexter in disguise which I very much doubt!) so it seems ridiculous that they appear to have planted (or at least encouraged) little bits of evidence that support this. ARGH!! x

  • joyce says:

    I loved Serial and even listened to the follow up podcast, but with this case I first found it hard to get into. I think it was so difficult because the Averys are not likeable people. I mean, the cat thing!?!?!?! But then in a way I am just like thinking ‘leave them alone’, they are very simple people in the middle of nowhere, just let them be for goodness sake.
    I don’t think Steven did it, and I was just so surprised that they charged Brendan on all accounts!!! I mean HOW??!!?
    I like this theory from here:
    http://www.hellou.co.uk/2016/01/is-this-the-most-convincing-making-a-murderer-theory-yet-77545/

    And I also think that the exboyfriend was a bit dodgy with his statement. Mhhhh
    makes me hate the us justice system… i mean… what is going on?!?!?

    • Gillian says:

      Just had a read of that theory and it definitely seems like it could be true. It’s so frustrating having all these theories, but we’ll probably never know the truth – I can’t imagine what it must be like for Teresa’s family.
      I know what you mean about the Avery’s, although I think in a way that might be part of what makes this documentary so compelling – you don’t even particularly like these people, but you end up rooting for them because the whole legal system just seems so unfair. I particularly liked a line Steven said during the documentary about “poor people lose all the time” and sadly it seems to be true, it almost seems like they were an easy target without the money or resources to defend themselves properly.

  • Michelle says:

    The ex and her boyfriend. Something shady went on there, in my mind. I watched the entirety of the series in a day and it was awful at the last episode to sit and realise that the wild absurdities of this all were and are real. Terrifying. I’m undecided of SA’s innocence but he shouldn’t have convicted on the grounds that they suggested. That jury was a) biased, and b) clearly not smart or aware enough of the very little evidence presented. Also, I can’t stop poring over the MaM Reddit thread!

    • Gillian says:

      Usually family members/ex partners are the first to be suspected, so I can’t understand why they weren’t investigated, even if was just to rule them out. I know, it seems crazy that someone can be sent to prison for life with such flimsy and conflicting evidence. I had a little look at the Reddit thread after I first watched the series but I’m sure there will be hundreds more theories by now – off to have a read! x

      • Michelle says:

        Have you read the Edward Wayne Edwards theory too?! I can’t stop reading.

        • Gillian says:

          Yes! Just read about this a couple of days ago. It’s a really interesting theory but I’m not sure if I believe it – seems almost too much like an urban legend to be true. Crazy!

  • Amber says:

    Argh! I found it so upsetting and frustrating. I agree 100% that Brendan should NOT be in jail. He obviously didn’t do it – that Kiss The Girls / James Paterson thing (!!) and I don’t believe that SA is guilty either – though his case is obviously more complicated. I’m crushing on your Strang & Buting graphic too. Best.

    • Gillian says:

      I know, it really is so frustrating isn’t it? Would love to know what really happened but I doubt the case will ever be fully resolved. Ahh, sadly I can’t take credit for the image (an awesome Twitter find I couldn’t find the original credit for, arrrrgh!) but I am completely in love with Strang & Buting, yessssss!

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