Imagine going through your daily regimen and suddenly being confronted by police officers. Imagine being charged and convicted with a heinous crime you are oblivious to, even though you had multiple alibis. Imagine spending 18 years in prison for a crime that you did not commit, separated from the love of your life and detached from your children. Imagine the emotional anguish endured during this sentence.
Then, at a moment’s notice, DNA evidence acquits you from the crime. Imagine the immense relief you would feel to know you are exonerated, and you have a new lease on life. Imagine how the arresting officers and prosecutors might feel after this newfound verdict. Imagine the resentment and animosity any human being (police notwithstanding) might feel after an ex-convict beats you at your own game. Think of the burning desire for retribution after being publicly humiliated by the villain turned vigilante.
However, after another twist of events, the ex-con is convicted again for another dreadful crime. Imagine ruthless tactics executed by investigators to ensure this ex-con along with an accomplice, his mentally ill-equipped nephew, were convicted to the highest extent of the law. Picture your life being ripped out of your hands shortly after you retrieved it 18 years later.
This is a picture of the reality that Steven Avery endures as a prisoner in Manitowoc County, WI. Netflix’s 10-episode documentary series, Making a Murderer, explores the battle between Avery and the possibly corrupt law enforcement system in Manitowoc County. This documentary is jam-packed with staggering details on how law enforcement relentlessly sought to prove Avery was guilty of felony crimes. It also highlights the involvement of Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, as he is constantly interrogated by investigators—sometimes without his defense—despite his intellectual limitations.
This documentary is gut-wrenching to say the least. It will definitely stir a multitude of emotions for every viewer. It may infuriate some and confuse others, depending on their perspective of law enforcement in America. It definitely makes the viewer look at police ethics and the motives behind their actions.
The series is coherently sound. Each episode carried a story within itself but essentially fed into one consummate narrative. Due to the layout of each episode, it was easy to understand each character’s role and how they fit in the whole story. Each piece of this story’s complex puzzle was full of necessary details, which made it difficult to misconstrue what actually happened. With every episode, this documentary became more mysterious and suspenseful. The shocking, unexpected events during the case were constant events the average viewer would never presume. Each ending was climactic, leaving the viewer eager to jump to the next story. After a few episodes, it became obvious Making a Murderer was binge-worthy.
One glaring aspect of this story is the wielding power law enforcement has on the public. I empathized with Avery, understanding that—guilty or not guilty—this was not a fair fight. The Avery family had no control over the narrative after prosecutors released horrid information on Avery’s supposed crime. It shows that facts might go unnoticed during an investigation. Public opinion may trump facts in our justice system, but ultimately the police have more power to influence public opinion a lot more than the working-class American. That can be the deciding factor in a criminal case, and that alone is a scary thought.
Making a Murderer is one of the best documentaries I have seen in a while; I give it a five star rating. The series was filmed over a 10-year period, so it is filled with reactions from every angle. The captivating commentary from the defense lawyers is especially fascinating. After watching, you will have an inside look on shaky law enforcement methods and the plight of families scarred by the system. Because of this documentary, I viewed our justice system from a different lens. While some parts will leave you disturbed, it is too compelling to turn off.