Wednesday 21 February 2018

Here's the 'key evidence' left out of Netflix's Making A Murderer

Making A Murderer
Making A Murderer

Sasha Brady

One of the prosecutors in the trials of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey has hit back at the producers of the Netflix documentary Making A Murderer claiming key evidence was omitted from the series.

Ken Kratz, the former District Attorney of Calumet County has claimed the Netflix docu-series is one-sided.

“I believe there to be 80 to 90 per cent of the physical evidence, the forensic evidence, that ties Steven Avery to this murder never to have been presented in this documentary,” he told Fox 11 News.

The series examines claims of a conspiracy against Avery, who spent 18 years in prison after being wrongly convicted for sexual assault of a prominent and wealthy woman in his home state of Wisconsin, before being cleared of the crime and released in 2003.

However, as he was pursuing a US$36 million lawsuit against police, he was charged with the murder of 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach, who was last seen at his home after arriving there for a scheduled meeting.

The 10-part series focuses on Avery's trial, questioning whether or not the local government framed the man who was set to potentially put them through a massive financial loss.

Ken Kratz, who acted as prosecutor in the trials of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey
Ken Kratz, who acted as prosecutor in the trials of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey

Though Avery has always maintained his innocence, the trial was made even more complicated when his 16-year-old nephew, Brendan Dassey, admitted to playing a part in the Teresa Halbach murder - the series, however, questions the validity of the teenager's confession.

Kratz, who resigned as District Attorney in 2010 after 'sexting' a domestic abuse victim in a scandal that saw his legal licence suspended for four months, accused filmmakers for not wanting to “muddy up a perfectly good conspiracy movie with what actually happened”.

He told People Magazine Ms Halbach visited Avery’s property several times for her work with AutoTrader magazine and told a colleague she was “creeped out” by his behaviour.

According to Kratz, Avery allegedly opened his door 'just wearing a towel'.

Brendan Dassey stands trial for the murder of Teresa Halbach
Brendan Dassey stands trial for the murder of Teresa Halbach

"She had stated to me that he had come out in a towel,"  Dawn Pliszka, the Auto Trader employee, said while the jury was outside of the courtroom. "I just said 'Really?' and then she said 'yeah' and laughed and said kinda 'Ew'."

However, according to an Associated Press article from February 28, 2007, the judge would not allow the testimony to be heard by the jury "because the date wasn't clear and few details were known.

At 8:12 a.m. on Oct. 31, the day Halbach was killed, Kratz said Avery called Auto Trader magazine and asked them to send "that same girl who was here last time." He said that Avery knew Halbach was leery of him, so he allegedly gave his sister's name and number to "trick" Halbach into coming.

Phone records showed he called her twice ahead of her scheduled visit on 31 October 2005, the day she disappeared, using a feature to disguise his number – and then again hours later.

According to the AP article, "The third call was placed about two hours later." It "lasted 13 seconds," and the phone company worker "couldn't tell if it was answered or went into voice mail."

Kratz told People the victim's bones, teeth, camera and phone were found in a fire put behind Avery's house and a bullet fired by his rifle was found with traces of her DNA.

Defence lawyers suggested police may have planted the bullet and claimed the bones had been moved from another location after the police had access to the Avery home and land for eight days while the family were banned from entering their own property.

In a statement before Making a Murderer was screened, the victim’s family said they were saddened at individuals and corporations creating “entertainment and to seek profit from our loss”.

Filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi have dismissed the prosecutor's claims.

The pair spent 10 years in Wisconson and collected over 700 hours of footage that they trimmed down to a 10-part documentary series that attempted to include all viewpoints and key pieces of state evidence.

"We tried to choose what we thought was Kratz’s strongest evidence pointing toward Steven’s guilt, the things he talked about at his press conferences, the things that were really damning toward Steven. That’s what we put in. The things I’ve heard listed as things we’ve left out seem much less convincing of guilt than Teresa’s DNA on a bullet or her remains in his backyard," said Demos to The Wrap.

Ricciardi responded to Kratz claims that the two were more focused on creating a good story than telling the truth by saying: "This is coming from a man who argued in closing arguments that reasonable doubts are for innocent people. This is coming from a man who said, “So what if the key was planted?”

"This is coming from a man who was forced out of office for admittedly sending sexually suggestive text messages to a domestic-violence victim whose case he was prosecuting.

"We are confident. We stand by the project we did. It is thorough. It is accurate. It is fair. That is why it took us 10 years to produce it," said Ricciardi.

"As I’ve said before, Ken Kratz is entitled to his own opinion, but he’s not entitled to his own facts. If he’d like to put together a documentary and try to discredit us in some way, he’s welcome to do that. We’re not going to be pulled into re-litigating the Halbach case with him."

The producers also claim that they reached out to Kratz three times to be a part of the documentary but he refused.

Making A Murderer is being praised by viewers for highlighting the flaws in the American justice system.

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