Fans of Making a Murderer, a 10-part docuseries released by Netflix on Dec. 18 that follows the case of a Steven Avery, a man convited of killing a freelance photographer two years after being exonerated for a crime he did not commit, are calling for the release of its subject.
Nearly 200,000 people have signed online petitions seeking a pardon for Avery, according to CNN.
The petitions appeared on Change.org and at the White House, requesting a presidential pardon for Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, who were both convicted in the murder of photographer Teresa Halbach.
“Steven Avery should be exonerated at once by presidential pardon, and the Manitowoc County officials complicit in his two false imprisonments should be held accountable to the highest extent of the U.S. criminal and civil justice systems,” the Change.org petition reads.
Avery was released from prison in 2003 when DNA evidence exonerated him in the brutal attack of a woman. He had already served 18 years in prison upon the time of his release.
And two years later, he filed a civil suit over his false conviction. During that time, he was arrested and convicted for Halbach’s murder.
In the series, the filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos bring up the idea that local law enforcement had it out for Avery, USA Today reports. But Manitowoc County Sheriff Robert Hermann said that law enforcement would not have any reason to frame an innocent man, nor would he call the series a “documentary.”
“A documentary puts things in chronological order and tells the story as it is. …I’ve heard things are skewed,” said Hermann, who has not watched the series but has been talking about it with his department. “They’ve taken things out of context and taken them out of the order in which they occurred, which can lead people to a different opinion or conclusion.”
“Show me the evidence he was framed. There is not going to be any. It didn’t happen. I don’t know why anybody in law enforcement would want to get him, that makes no sense.
“They can relate it to the previous lawsuit. That has nothing to do with law enforcement. The lawsuit was against the county and…while we don’t like to have lawsuits against your county or your city or whatever, really to the individual law enforcement officer, that doesn’t mean a lot because it just doesn’t affect them.”
Ricciardi and Demos put Making a Murderer together over a 10-year period. Former Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz was the special prosecutor on the case against both Avery and his nephew. He has said that the pair left out evidence that led to Avery’s guilt, something the filmmakers have denied.
“One of the things I hope viewers who really engage with the series will take away from this is this question of, if they have lingering questions, are they comfortable living with that?” Ricciardi told The Daily Beast. “There are now two people who are behind bars, probably for life. Do our viewers feel satisfied with the process that led to those convictions?”