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Convicting a killer

In high school, I learned how to write argumentative and persuasive essays. My argumentative paper was the first paper I have ever gotten a B on. I was not happy, but to be fair, I didn’t do a good job of convincing my teacher of my side, whatever that was at the time.

A convincing argument is harder to create than you might think, which is why the Netflix original “Making a Murderer” was such a hit. The filmmakers fully convinced their audience that Steven Avery was completely innocent of the murder of Teresa Halbach, and that the police who dealt with the Avery case were the criminals. The audiences’ reaction to the documentary series was unprecedented—there was even a petition sent to the President demanding the release of Avery.

Although the effort was all there, Presidents cannot pardon state-induced imprisonment, so the petition was entirely void, but its impact was felt nationwide. It’s popularity spread through news sites and social media, all the while gaining public momentum. I remember hearing about Avery’s case on the news, various TV shows and radio podcasts, etc. The media had everyone convinced that Avery was, in fact, the victim in the case with Halbach—well, maybe not everyone.

There were enough people who were not convinced of Avery’s innocence to come together and make a rebuttal documentary, titled “Convicting a Murder.” According to a New York Times article, the new documentary explores is what “Making a Murderer” didn’t—additional evidence, such as DNA evidence that proves Avery’s DNA was found where he said it wasn’t and that some of Halbach’s belongings were found on Avery’s property. How this evidence was brushed over in “Making a Murderer” is beyond me, but it was, in fact, presented as evidence at the trial for the jury to see. There’s also the fact that Avery and Halbach knew each other for a while prior to Halbach’s death. She worked as a photographer for him, and he often requested her service for projects he was working on.

“Convicting a Murderer” will focus specifically on the legal case built against Avery and Brendan Dassey. The documentary filmmaker Shawn Rech got exclusive access to District Attorney Ken Kratz, lead investigator Tom Fassbender and other primary figures in the case against Avery. In the wake of “Making a Murderer”, there was speculation that Avery and Dassey’s convictions might be overturned, but it’s all smoke and mirrors at this point. A Wisconsin judge denied Avery a new trial in October, and a federal appeals court upheld Dassey’s conviction in December. Based on the evidence so readily available to the public on the internet, I’m not so sure that Avery is innocent, but the public will have to find out for themselves when the new documentary comes to the screen.