'Making A Murderer' Juror Feared For Their Safety During Trial, Filmmakers Say
The filmmakers behind true crime docuseries Making a Murderer say that a juror from the trial of Steven Avery told them they believed Avery was framed for the murder of Teresa Halbach, and that they "feared for their personal safety" during the trial. Making a Murderer filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos said this morning during an interview on NBC's Today that a juror from the trial of Steven Avery contacted them with some interesting news. Ricciardi did not reveal any details that would point to the particular juror's identity, but did say that the juror believed Avery "was framed by law enforcement and that he deserves a new trial, and if he receives a new trial, in their opinion it should take place far away from Wisconsin." Demos said that the juror also claimed that they did not hold out for a mistrial because they "feared for their personal safety."
Ricciardi said that according to this juror, the jurors came up with a plan to trade their votes in the hopes it would signal to appellate courts that Avery needed a new trial.
"The juror contacted us directly…and went on to describe the jurors ultimately trading votes in the jury room and explicitly discussing, 'If you vote guilty on this count, I will vote not guilty on this count,'" Ricciardi said. The jurors' plan obviously failed, as both Steven Avery as well as his 16-year-old nephew Brendan Dassey were ultimately convicted of murdering 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach.
Ricciardi and Demos said they have yet to reach out to the other jurors to see if they will corroborate these statements. They say the juror said they would admit to being the source of these statements, if asked.
Netflix's Making a Murderer explores the bizarre case of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who spent 18 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, then was convicted of murdering a photographer only a few years after his release. The way the ten-part documentary is presented, the viewer is led to believe that Avery was framed by Manitowoc County authorities—the same law enforcement officers who wrongly put him behind bars the first time.
The prosecutor in the case, Ken Kratz, has come forward with evidence against Avery not presented in the documentary, though admitted that the case was made more challenging for him by the involvement of the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Department, according to the NY Times.
"I certainly took every step to keep those people out of it," he said.
Kratz maintains that despite possible missteps, Avery is the right person to be sitting behind bars for Halbach's murder right now. Kratz has plenty of other reasons to hate the documentary. In addition to casting doubt on Avery and Dassey's guilt, it also called attention to the scandal in which Kratz sent inappropriate and sexual text messages to a female victim of domestic violence, while he was prosecuting her boyfriend. The texts have since be released and included things like this vomit-worthy gem when the woman didn't respond to a previous text: "Hey..Miss Communication, what's the sticking point? Your low-self esteem and you fear you can't play in my big sandbox?[sic]"
Ricciardi has defended the documentary from critics who say it's one-sided, saying that she and Demos included what they personally felt was the state's most "compelling" evidence against their subject.
Meanwhile, The Guardian has named one of Avery's attorneys in the case an "unlikely sex symbol." Dean Strang, who defended Avery alongside lawyer Jerry Buting, has apparently acquired a number of people crushing on him since the documentary's release.
A petition on Change.org asking for President Barack Obama to pardon Avery is now up to over 273,000 signatures. It's actually not possible for the President to pardon Avery or Dassey, as their convictions were not federal ones.