To paraphrase Mugatu, Making A Murderer is so hot right now. The Netflix documentary about a Wisconsin man released from prison after serving 18 years for a crime he didn’t commit—only to be accused of murder—went up on the streaming site shortly before Christmas, and immediately became one of the most talked-about true-crime stories since Serial’s Adnan Syed. And, much like that case’s intriguing new developments following the podcast’s success, the subjects of the new series are finding themselves with a surplus of new supporters. (Spoilers for the show follow, although the events mostly took place roughly a decade ago, so really, you shouldn’t get upset. Save that for the viewing experience itself, which is essentially an ongoing series of opportunities for you to exclaim, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”)
A White House petition has been launched to pardon Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, the two people found guilty by the courts in the murder of Teresa Halbach. Both Avery and Dassey have had their respective post-conviction appeals processes largely exhausted at this point, with the State Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals refusing to hear new arguments. (Arguably the more infuriating of the two situations would be that of Dassey, who was 17 at the time of the murder, and whose case pivots on the appalling treatment he suffered by the very people hired to defend him. He still has a request for a federal review of his case pending.) The petition asks President Obama to issue a full pardon for both men, based on the evidence provided by the documentary series.
“Based on the evidence in the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer, the justice system embarrassingly failed both men, completely ruining their entire lives,” it reads. “There is clear evidence that the Manitowoc County sheriff’s department used improper methods to convict both Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. This is a black mark on the justice system as a whole, and should be recognized as such, while also giving these men the ability to live as normal a life as possible.” The petition has garnered nearly 20,000 signatures thus far, with an eye toward the 100,000 required for the White house to officially address the filing. A similar Change.org petition has already garnered more than 175,000 signatures.
While it’s certainly debatable whether these two men are actually guilty of the crime—and those who feel the series is unfairly biased aren’t shy about making their voices heard, especially when that voice belongs to a former D.A. who tried to demand sexual favors from domestic violence victims—it’s harder to ignore that the evidence that these trials were anything but fair. The petition has a deadline of January 19.
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