You swore you’d just watch one episode — just to see what everyone was talking about. One turned into two and two turned into three. And before you knew it, the weekend was over and all you accomplished was correctly spelling “Manitowoc” when you started frantically Googling the people and places that were the main subject of Making a Murderer.
It’s okay. You’re not alone. Since this addictive ten-part crime documentary hit Netflix last December, it seems like everyone and their mother has binged the series. And we’ve all been left breathless as a result. It’s hard not to keep watching — at times, the details presented in Making a Murderer seem almost impossible. And the fact that Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are still fighting for exoneration makes the series’ impact all the more compelling. [Update, 8/18/16: Brendan Dassey’s conviction has been overturned.]
Wondering what will happen to the defendants now? Here’s what’s next for the people that made Making a Murderer, one of the most talked about series in America.
He’s served almost a decade in prison for the murder of Teresa Halbach — a crime he still maintains he didn’t commit. But at the end of Making a Murderer, the future looked pretty grim for Steven Avery. Out of resources, and with the state of Wisconsin denying his appeal, it looked as though he was facing the very real prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.
But with the newfound attention his case has received, Avery may still have a fighting chance to make a case for exoneration. And this time, at least, he’ll have a great deal of support. Within the past couple of weeks, zealous fans of Making a Murderer have tried any way they can to help Avery overturn his conviction. From petitions asking for a presidential pardon to phone calls to the Wisconsin Innocence Project, total strangers around the country are now standing behind Avery.
Will any of the support matter? Avery hasn’t exhausted all of his options — his much-lauded defense lawyers, Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, have been working with him pro-bono. And his family has set up a website where interested fans of the series can donate to his legal defense in further appeals. While none of these efforts add up to his freedom yet, they’re more than Steven Avery could have hoped for before the series hit it big.
Few people who’ve watched Making a Murderer feel that Brendan Dassey was anything more than a confused teen when he confessed to helping Steven Avery murder Teresa Halbach. And the way in which he was treated before his trial — from sketchy interrogations to a shady defense team — earned him plenty of sympathy from viewers. And the techniques used by those who put him behind bars may be the very thing that ultimately frees him.
Dassey’s lawyers filed a lawsuit in 2014 in the hopes that the federal courts would grant him a Habeas corpus writ. A federal judge in Milwaukee is currently considering the case, and if he rules in Dassey’s favor, then the government would have to examine the evidence in his case and decide whether he has been imprisoned illegally. While it’s unclear whether the attention that Making a Murderer has drawn to Dassey’s case will impact the judge’s decision, it is safe to say that Dassey’s new advocates won’t give up easily if his most recent appeal is denied.
[Update, 8/12/16: Per The Wrap, Brendan Dassey’s conviction has been overturned.]
[Update, 11/17/16: Per the BBC, a judge has ordered the immediate release of Brendan Dassey.]
Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos
Their names haven’t been in the news as often as their subjects. But Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos are wholly responsible for making Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey household names. This filmmaking duo spent ten years gathering information, conducting interviews, and shooting the footage that makes Making a Murderer so compelling. Since the series’ Netflix debut on Dec. 18, Ricciardi and Demos have made the rounds with the press, answering questions, revealing information they’ve since learned about the case, and disputing claims about bias and intentionally leaving evidence on the cutting room floor. The most important piece of information they’ve revealed? They’re not done following Avery and Dassey. That means there is going to be another season of Making a Murderer — and yet another reason for us to binge-watch some of the most addictive true crime TV ever created.
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