The directors of the much-talked about documentary series on Steven Avery have been closely watching reactions to the production on social media.
The 10 part series began streaming on Netflix last Friday. It focuses on Avery’s wrongful conviction for rape, his exoneration for that crime, and then the investigation and trial surrounding the 2005 murder of photographer Teresa Halbach. Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey were convicted of Halbach’s murder in 2007.
Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi spent almost 10 years putting together “Making a Murderer” for Netflix. Demos said they have been very excited to go online and read how people are reacting and discussing the material.
One of those reactions drawing a lot of attention is the suggestion in the documentary that police and prosecutors may have framed Avery for Halbach’s murder. The issue has resulted in numerous messages to the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department, criticizing the agency for its handling of the investigation, along with online petitions calling for Avery’s release.
Despite not having seen the series himself, Sheriff Rob Hermann said earlier this week that those watching it are only getting parts of the story, since it is primarily told from the perspective of Avery’s defense. “These people only saw one side of the story…and I know they’re drawing the wrong conclusion,” he said.
Damos defended the decision to focus on Avery’s past wrongful conviction for rape, which resulted in him spending 12 years in prison before he was exonerated. “We thought that was relevant, and really wanted to look at the history between the parties in the series, and use that as a lens in which to look at the Halbach case.”
Damos said their role was to raise questions with the series, but never to provide answers. “We were hoping that the story would help promote a dialogue that people would be talking about issues related to the criminal justice system…and those that stretch beyond.”
Avery is currently serving a life prison term, without the possibility of parole.
Mike Kemmeter at affiliate WHBY contributed to this report.