“Making a Murderer” Series Explained from a Criminal Defense Perspective

The newly famous Netflix series “Making a Murderer”, based on the life of Steven Avery, and the murder trials he and his nephew Brendan Dassey endured, questions the legal system, DNA evidence and the legitimacy of the justice system. The documentary took ten years to make, questioning, explaining and presenting each piece of Avery and Dassey’s cases and personal stories from beginning to end.

After spending 18 years in prison for a sexual assault crime he was innocent for, Avery was exonerated by DNA evidence. This is the first of the legal battles discussed in the non- fictional crime series, where not only was there no specific evidence to incarcerate Avery in the first place, but he also had an alibi for the crime he was convicted of. Avery was framed by the Manitowoc County but after his release, Avery questionably stayed in the same town.

Years later, the main case of the series begins, as Avery is charged with the murder of Teresa Halbach, by the same law enforcement that wrongly accused and sentenced him to prison the first time. From this point on, what’s interesting to a criminal defense attorney is how the state worked to collect, maintain and present the evidence they said proved Avery’s guilt.

Christopher Corso, founder of Corso Law Group recently discussed the Avery case on Price of Business, where he gave his criminal defense point of view. In regards to the DNA portion, Corso spoke to the point that although DNA technology continues to improve, criminal defense attorneys are still skeptical.

In the Steven Avery case, the state was allowed to search Avery’s home without him there several different times for any evidence relating to Halbach’s murder. During one of the last searches, police found Steven Avery’s DNA on a car key in his home that they said belonged to Halbach. However, the DNA found in this case doesn’t fully make sense.

Christopher Corso went on the say that defense attorney’s skepticism lies in the fact that when labs pull DNA off of “evidence”, it’s difficult to separate the multiple strands present. This is not a new issue either, as prosecutors tend to be selective. While it depends on the region and the situation you’re in, crucial case outcomes have been determined by a simple strand of DNA. How is it that one DNA test can prove so much?

Prosecutors want to use this evidence because they feel it’s unique and strong towards their case. How can DNA be completely reliable? The level of the sophistication in the technology is good and advancements continue, but the true question is who is actually pushing the buttons? Who are the people facilitating this and is it fair?

Avery seemed to be the target for the murder of Halbach since the beginning. In his Price of Business segment, Corso goes on to say that the longer Avery stayed in that town, the more that circle of law enforcement profiled him. Avery was doomed, and he was going to be the first suspect Manitowoc County looked to for this type of crime.

Since the series began, a petition was started for Avery and his nephew Dassey to be pardoned for the murder. A response to the petition  was released on whitehouse.gov.

The statement says “Since Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are both state prisoners, the President cannot pardon them.”

Avery has since also written a letter from prison, declaring that “the truth will set him free.” Currently, Avery is serving a life sentence for the murder of Teresa Halbach.

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