Making a Murderer, or Making a Martyr?
Like most of America, I did some binge watching of “Making a Murderer” this weekend. And, like most Americans, I followed that up with some binge reading, thinking and debating about it (mostly debating). But, unlike most Americans, I can’t help but be surprised by almost every reasonable person’s knee-jerk rush to judgment — in response to the police’s alleged rush to judgment — in the Steven Avery case. The public’s intense passion surrounding this case has an all-too-familiar feeling, but with a very unfamiliar, and rather ironic, public outcry. Let me explain …
If you assume this sounds like a quick rundown of the facts in the Steven Avery murder case, featured in the Netflix series “Making a Murderer,” you would be correct.
It is also a quick rundown of the facts in the O.J. Simpson murder case.
Yes! That O.J. Simpson murder case.
Here are some more ironies to consider:
In “Making a Murderer,” the police are made to look like “evil” men by the defense. Just like Johnny Cochran argued about the cops in the O.J. case. But did the Manitowoc officers ever show anything in their history that would make us think that they were any more evil than Detective Mark Fuhrman was in the O.J. trial? Mark Fuhrman: A cop who put his hand on a Bible and swore to have never said the “N-word” in his life, but was then proven to have uttered it hundreds of times only weeks earlier.
Then there’s the “key” piece of evidence, which was found by the “evil” cops in both cases. The evil cops in the Avery case randomly found a “key” (the victim’s car key) in Steven Avery’s bedroom, which the defense claimed was planted by the police (it may have been). Meanwhile, the evil cop (Fuhrman) in the O.J. case, was the same cop who found the infamous “bloody glove” outside of O.J.’s house (a glove that he “found” after he illegally climbed the wall to O.J.’s property without a warrant). Again, the defense claims it was planted (it may well have been).
But wait, there’s more.
Blood was found (planted?) by “evil” cops in an SUV in both cases. Blood that was, of course, very curiously located, and found in conspicuously small amounts, considering the violent nature of both murders.
Then there is the EDTA blood testing done by the FBI. A testing method that has been allowed to be used in only two cases in the last 20 years.
Can you guess which two cases?
Yup, the O.J. case and the Steven Avery case.
There is one last irony that these two controversial, and compelling, cases share: We were allowed to watch both of them play out on TV. And boy, did we! We not only watched them, we obsessed over them.
But were we really, actually, ever allowed to watch them? All of them?
Actually, we were not.
In the O.J. trial, nothing was withheld from viewers. We heard both sides infamously give their colorful arguments, going over every single piece of evidence that we could possibly digest.
But in the Steven Avery trial, we really only heard one side of the story. The side that served the shows narrative (and the defense’s theory), that the police framed an innocent man.
It seems the show’s apparent goal was for the audience to believe that the police, in a rush to judgment, “created” a murderer in Steven Avery (hence the title of the series).
But one can’t help but wonder if it is the producers — and now the viewers — of the series, who are actually the ones doing the “creating.”
By creating a martyr of Steven Avery.
Before rushing out to join the hundreds of thousands signing petitions and demanding that the president pardon Mr. Avery (which is not possible unless it were a federal case), take a look at some more of the many compelling, inflammatory and very incriminating facts. Facts that have surfaced in the press recently. Facts that the producers of “Making a Murderer” failed to share with the audience. Facts that present a very different picture of who Steven Avery is:
1. The documentary said that Avery’s criminal past included animal cruelty. Specifically, he doused a cat with kerosene and set it ablaze in a bonfire. (The same fate that the victim in his case allegedly suffered).
Most experts will tell you that this behavior is a precursor to later, more violent, acts.
Some would also suggest that burning a cat to death is a crime worthy of a life sentence in prison, as well.
2. Avery’s past criminal activity also included threatening a female relative at gunpoint.
3. In the months leading up to Ms. Halbach’s disappearance, Avery had called Auto Trader magazine several times and always specifically requested the victim, Ms. Halbach, to come out to his home and take the photos.
4. Ms. Halbach had complained to her boss that she didn’t want to go out to Avery’s trailer anymore, because once when she went out, Avery was waiting for her wearing only a towel. Avery clearly had an obsession with Ms. Halbach.
5. On the day that Ms. Halbach went missing, Avery had called her three times, twice from a *67 number to hide his identity.
6. The bullet with Halbach’s DNA on it came from Avery’s gun, which always hung above his bed.
7. Avery had purchased handcuffs and leg irons (like the ones co-defendant Brendan Dassey described were holding Halbach) only three weeks before the murder.
8. In Brendan Dassey’s illegally obtained statement, Dassey stated that he helped Avery move the RAV4 into the junkyard, and that Avery had lifted the hood and removed the battery cable.
Even if you believe that the blood in Halbach’s car was planted by the cops, there was also non-blood DNA evidence on the hood latch. The police would not have known to plant that evidence.
And remember this critical point as well:
9. Avery’s lawyer told the jury, in closing, that “I do not believe the police frame innocent people, they frame people that they think are guilty.”
Avery’s lawyers seem very admirable and incredibly competent, but if you build a case on the premise that “the police framed an innocent man,” and subsequently tell the jury “I do not believe the police frame innocent people,” haven’t you essentially told the jury your client is not innocent?
It seemed pretty clear to me, while watching the series, the moment his lawyer said those words to the jury, that Steven Avery would be found guilty.
As was the case in the O.J. trial, when Marcia Clark said to the jury in closing (trying to make sense of what was very possibly a piece of planted evidence), that O.J. “ran behind his house to enter the back door, bonked his head on Kato Kaelin’s air conditioner, dropped the bloody glove, then [inexplicably] turned around and ran back toward the front door of the house.” Huh?!?! If you have any common sense, you had to know at that moment, that O.J. would not be convicted of murder.
I know there was more to both cases than that, but both teams’ efforts to debunk/defend the “police framed my client” theories flew out the window with those statements in their closing arguments.
Ironically, despite all the similarities between the O.J. and Avery cases, there is one striking dissimilarity that has been revealed: that while most people assumed O.J. was guilty, most of those same people assume Steven Avery is innocent.
Two different cases, sure, but why the hypocrisy?
Many would suggest that race is a factor in that hypocritical thinking. It undoubtedly is. (However that subject is another discussion entirely.)
I’d like to think there is also another reason for the hypocrisy. That is that the viewers were only given half of the story — and that if most viewers looked at all of the evidence in the Steven Avery case objectively, and considered the many facts from the docu series that were conveniently withheld from them, that those people would come to this very logical conclusion: that all signs point to only one man, Steven Avery.
Because if you truly believe the cops were guilty of framing this man, and if you truly believe the evidence was planted, and if you truly believe that an injustice occurred involving an innocent man and “police with an agenda,” or if you simply believe that the cops who had an agenda shouldn’t have been allowed to investigate this murder case at all, and if you actually believe that Steven Avery is innocent after hearing only HALF the evidence in his case …
Then shouldn’t you at least be willing to consider the same for O.J. Simpson, after hearing ALL of the evidence in his case?
Shouldn’t you at least believe that Mark Fuhrman’s evidence should have been thrown out of the O.J. case?
Shouldn’t you believe that the bloody glove was planted by a racist cop on O.J.’s property?
Shouldn’t you believe that the blood was planted in O.J.’s SUV, too?
I mean, at least the blood found in the O.J. case actually had EDTA in it (supporting the theory that it was planted). Unlike the blood in the Steven Avery case, which was proven to have no preservatives in it.
And shouldn’t you, with as much vigor as you demand that Steve Avery is released, demand that the authorities find the real killer of Ms. Halbach?
And if you won’t change your opinion about O.J.’s guilt, then shouldn’t you change your opinion that Steven Avery is innocent?
Because if we are basing our opinions of guilt/innocence of these suspects — on which “evil” cop is more likely to have planted evidence — I’d put my money on Mark Fuhrman.
Truthfully, I wouldn’t expect you to do any of those things.
But I would expect you to demand to hear ALL of the facts in the case, before joining hundreds of thousands of people signing petitions, demanding Steven Avery’s release.
Those doing so, without all the facts, are guilty of exactly what the police in both of these cases have been accused of doing: rushing to judgment.
Isn’t that ironic.
Sadly, all of this hoopla over Steven Avery seems to have desensitized many to the real victim, Ms. Halbach.
Somehow I don’t expect anyone to start a petition to forgive O.J. Nor should they. Even if O.J. was innocent of murdering his wife, he should still spend the rest of his life in prison for the many times he physically abused her.
Brendan Dassey, on the other hand, may deserve a petition.
He may be the second biggest victim in all of this, after Ms. Halbach.
A victim of unfair treatment by law enforcement, given his mental issues.
A victim of his uncle, Steven Avery — a man who was too busy being a martyr, to protect his own nephew.
A nephew that Steven, himself, may actually have Made A Murderer.
For the record, my suspicion is that Steven Avery is guilty. My choice, as it was with the O.J. case, is to trust the jurors’ decision. They are, after all, the only people to have heard all of the evidence.
At least in one case.
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