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Dateline’s ‘Making a Murderer’ Special Was a Major Letdown


steven averyMany of you probably sat down to watch NBC’s Dateline Special Report The State of Wisconsin v. Steven Avery —which focused on the controversial Netflix series “Making a Murderer”— expecting a major bombshell, or at least some new information.  Instead, viewers walked away just as divided, with no solid new information in support of either side.

However, Dateline definitely deserves credit for not whitewashing Steven Avery’s past crimes, such as the time he doused a family cat in gasoline and threw it on a fire just to watch it burn, or the time he lost his temper and drove a woman off the road at gunpoint, only to back off when he realized she had a small child in the vehicle.

From there, they showed what felt like far too much Penny Bernstein and the wrongful identification portion of Avery’s case –that is all resolved.  Although the 2005 interview with the man police (and a single pubic hair found in Ms. Bernstein’s underwear) say is her real attacker —Gregory Allen— was very interesting as he flat out denies any role in the attack.  He has never been charged with the rape, but only because the statute of limitation for rape crimes had passed by 2003 (that law has since changed and rape no longer has a statute of limitation).  Gregory Allen is currently serving a 60 year sentence for a sexual assault he committed in 1995, when he was 47 years old.  He’ll have to live to be 107 before he’ll be able to walk the street a free man again.

From this point, until the end when Steve’s new lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, introduced, Prosecutor Ken Kratz and Jerry Buting rehash much of the same arguments over and over.  Buting continues to point to the blood vial and the cut evidence tape, in spite of the fact that multiple experts, including one interviewed  by Dateline, have all stated that its normal for blood tubes to have a puncture in the stopper.

As for the broken evidence tape on the styrofoam container holding Avery’s blood vial, court records show that Avery’s post conviction lawyers from his 1985 case, were present and agreed to break the seals in 2002, in case they needed to test his blood —which they ultimately did not.

The key takeaway here is there is a perfectly understandable reason for the seal to be broken and neither the documentary nor the Dateline story did a good job of explaining this point.  Worst of all, however, is Buting.  He should know better.

Next, we get a bit of a mea culpa from Ken Kratz, but I doubt it will be enough to satisfy his detractors.  He told Dateline that he regretted giving the graphic press conference and he should’ve just allowed the complaint to speak for him.  He also referred to himself as a “jerk” back in those days; as much as it pains me to say it, maybe there is some hope for Kratz now that he is at the first step of admitting the problem.

Finally, Avery’s new attorney, Kathleen Zellner, made an appearance to finish off the hour long special.  Speaking to a small gathering reporters prior to visiting Steven in jail, Zellner said that she hoped improvements in forensic testing would lead to evidence that would exonerate Avery.  She has also purchased a 1999 Rav 4, like Halbach’s, to do some of her own testing on it and she reiterated her belief that Steven is innocent.


[image via screengrab]

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