‘Making a Murderer’: Is Steven Avery Guilty? Here’s What the Show Left Out

By now most people have heard of fake news. But even when a journalist is trying to relay all the facts, it’s still possible to make a story sound a certain way without telling any lies at all.

Everyone who watched the hit Netflix series Making a Murderer back in 2015 had some kind of opinion about it. Because of the way the story was told, many people believed that Steven Avery was wrongfully convicted… again. But others were quick to point out that the documentary left out key pieces of evidence against Avery intentionally because they were incriminating.

Did the series creator do this on purpose? Perhaps. Either way, it makes the question of Steven Avery’s innocence less obvious.

Steven Avery

Steven Avery | Making a Murderer via YouTube

What happened to Steven Avery?

The driving storyline, at least the way it was implied on the show, painted Steven Avery as a victim. First, he was wrongfully convicted of rape and exonerated only after serving 18 years in prison. Understandably upset about losing almost two decades of his life, Avery sued Manitowoc County and the former district attorney, Dennis Vogel, for $36 million. The suit was settled for $400,000.

Steven Avery was arrested for the murder of a local photographer named Teresa Halbach, who disappeared on October 31, 2005. Her last known appointment was a meeting with Avery at his salvage yard. What followed was a circus of confusion and mayhem.

Making a Murderer

Steven Avery’s salvage yard | Netflix via YouTube

Why was Steven Avery arrested for murder?

The documentary Making a Murderer asked the obvious question: Was Steven Avery targeted by local police due to the lawsuit and their general dislike of him? Did they take their vendetta so far that they pinned a murder on him? It seemed plausible, at least from watching the first part of the show. But there are a few key items they left out which could explain why a jury of his peers ultimately found Steven Avery guilty of murder.

What evidence did ‘Making a Murderer’ leave out?

When people hear that Steven Avery once tortured a cat, they may be a little disgusted but ultimately write it off as a childish stunt. However, serial killers are prone to “practice” with animals. And it’s not like Avery just killed a cat – he soaked it in gasoline, lit it on fire, and let it suffer while he watched. This was no small crime… it was horrific. Avery even admitted that it was the family cat, not some random stray.

Animal cruelty is bad enough. But beyond that, Avery talked about his bad intentions for what he would do after being released from prison. District Attorney Ken Kratz explains it this way: “While in prison, Avery told his cell mate of his intent to build a ‘torture chamber’ so he could rape, torture, and kill young women when he was released. He even drew a diagram. His other cell mate was told by Avery that the way to get rid of a body is to ‘burn it’…heat destroys DNA.’”

Maybe he was just made about his wrongful conviction. Or maybe he was deadly serious.

Did Steven Avery target Teresa Halbach?

Teresa Halbach

Teresa Halbach | Netflix via YouTube

Teresa Halbach was a photographer for Auto Trader Magazine, so it makes sense that she would run into Avery throughout the course of her work. But when he answered the door once wearing only a towel once, Halbach admitted she was “creeped out” by him and didn’t want to return.

But Avery wanted to see the pretty young photographer again, which is why he specifically requested that she come take the photos and even used a fake name to get her to return. The appointment was made under Avery’s sister’s name, Barb Janda, instead of his own.

When Avery called Halbach on October 31, the date of her disappearance, he used the *67 feature to block his phone number. He obviously knew she wouldn’t likely pick up if she saw who was calling.

There was more incriminating evidence against Avery

In an email, Ken Kratz questioned the documentary maker’s intentions.

Apparently, Halbach’s personal items including her phone, camera, and other things were found burned in a barrel right near Avery’s door. Two witnesses saw him putting items into the barrel to burn. However, these details were never mentioned in Making a Murderer.

Kratz also claimed that the bones found in the fire pit were mixed in with steel belts from car tires, which would not support the theory that the bones were planted there. A Wisconsin State Journal Article elaborated on this: “Investigators also said in the court documents that they found steel belts of about six tires that were used as fire accelerants. They also found a number of 5-gallon buckets that appeared to have been used to distribute burned remains.”

And about that bullet that was supposedly planted? Ballistics testing proved it was fired from Steven Avery’s gun and confiscated during the first search of the property.

Steven Avery's gun

Steven Avery’s gun | Netflix via YouTube

Is Steven Avery guilty?

At the end of the day, there’s no definitive way to prove if Steven Avery is innocent or guilty. Only the man himself and Teresa Halbach know what really happened on that fateful day in 2005. But while watching the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer, it’s crucial to keep in mind the bias that documentary makers had. A show about an innocent man behind bars is more compelling television.

Avery’s new attorney Kathleen Zellner believes Steven Avery was wrongly convicted and filed a post-conviction motion to get her client a new trial. Maybe in light of her findings, new evidence will prove he’s innocent.

Then again, maybe it won’t.