Including government pushback and a conflict of interest+ READ ARTICLE
Produced over the course of a decade, the series examines the case of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who was famously exonerated for a sexual assault he did not commit — only to be accused (and convicted) shortly thereafter of murdering 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach. Avery’s teenage nephew, Brendan Dassey, was also found guilty in the murder.
The creators of the series, Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi, had to fit 10 years’ worth of news segments, interviews, trials, recorded phone calls, and police interrogation footage into a 10-episode series — which means some details were left out. The prosecutor and the county sheriff have accused the filmmakers of purposefully omitting key details and taking others out of context. But Demos and Ricciardi say it would “just be impossible” to include every fact in the series.
Here are a few significant details that didn’t make it in:
There was additional DNA evidence pointing to Avery. According to prosecutor Ken Kratz, that is. He told Maxim that Avery’s DNA was found under Halbach’s trunk (though earlier he said it was found under the hood). “It wasn’t blood. It was from his sweaty hands. Do the cops also have a vial of his sweat that they are carrying around? The evidence conclusively shows that Steven Avery’s hand was under the hood when he insists he never touched her car,” said Kratz.
Halbach’s belongings were found on Avery’s property. Kratz said her phone and camera were found 20 feet from Avery’s door. “This isn’t contested,” he said. “It was all presented as evidence at the jury trial, and the documentary people don’t tell you that.”
Avery and Halbach knew each other. Halbach had been to Avery’s home several times to photograph vehicles for Auto Trader magazine. When Avery set up an appointment with a photographer, he reportedly requested her specifically, saying, “Send the girl who was out here before.” Kratz also told People that Halbach said she was “creeped out” by him.
Two jurors in the Avery trial had relatives working for the Manitowoc Sheriff’s Department. One man had a son in the department, and another had a wife in the county clerk of court’s office, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Dean Strang, one of Avery’s lawyers, said the connections were known — but both the defense and prosecution had apparently used up their allotted juror dismissals.
The documentary received plenty of pushback before it was even released. According to BuzzFeed, the government “did certainly go out of their way to try and quash their documentary.” In the fall of 2006, the state tried to subpoena the footage, so Demos and Ricciardi hired a lawyer of their own. “The state wanted any statement Steven made … and statements by others who might have knowledge or claim to have knowledge about who was responsible for the death of Teresa Halbach,” Ricciardi said. “It was a fishing expedition, and we really think it was an effort by the state to shut down our production.”