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Arts and Entertainment

Steven Avery Isn't Allowed To Watch 'Making A Murderer' In Jail, Filmmakers Say

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The filmmakers behind Making a Murderer talked about the documentary at a panel event yesterday, saying subject Steven Avery hasn't been allowed to see the series in prison and hinting at future episodes. Netflix had its day at the Television Critics Association's Winter Press Tour in Pasadena yesterday, which featured Making a Murderer filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos among other Netflix stars. Ricciardi and Demos were joined by producer Lisa Nishimura and discussed the reaction to the 10-part docuseries as well as the possibility of new episodes.

The filmmakers said that though they communicate with Steven Avery via phone as he sits in prison, his requests to watch the series have been denied, Decider reports. They also said that Avery is still seeking an appeal, and that the recorded phone conversations may be used in new episodes.

Making a Murderer follows the case of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who was wrongfully convicted of raping a woman in the '80s. He spent 18 years in prison before he was exonerated by DNA evidence, but was convicted of murdering 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach only a few years after his release. He is now in prison, along with his nephew, Brendan Dassey, who issued a controversial confession to helping Avery commit the murder. Dassey was 16 at the time and has an IQ of about 70, and the video footage of his interrogation as presented in Making a Murderer is very unsettling. The documentary explores the possibility that Avery was framed by the same law enforcement who wrongly put Avery, who was about to receive a settlement from the county, in prison the first time.

While the documentary has sparked a lot of interest in Avery's case, as well as cases of wrongful convictions and coerced confessions in general, there has been a lot of criticism that the film is one-sided. Ken Kratz, the prosecutor in Avery's case, has gone on record stating that the filmmakers left some damning evidence against Avery out of the documentary.

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The filmmakers previously defended their choice of evidence presented, with Demos saying, "I guess I would ask Kratz what he would trade it for. We tried to choose what we thought was Kratz's strongest evidence pointing toward Steven's guilt, the things he talked about at his press conferences, the things that were really damning toward Steven. That's what we put in."

Demos and Ricciardi said yesterday that the prosecution denied their request for interviews when they were making the docuseries, which is why Kratz and the rest are exclusively portrayed via other footage, such as from press conferences.

Perhaps even more damning, Avery's ex-fiancée Jodi Stachowski, who was portrayed as standing by Avery in the film, went on HLN's Nancy Grace show last week to say that Avery was physically abusive and "a monster."

"I can't say why Jodi is saying what she's saying to the media today. When we filmed with her nine years ago, this is what she was saying to us," Demos said.

In the documentary, Stachowski was in prison for driving under the influence at the time of Halbach's murder, and is heard in two recorded phone calls from prison with Avery on the day of the murder. In those conversations and in video footage in Making a Murderer, Stachowski expresses love for Avery. Now, Stachowski says that was all a lie.

"I think what we're seeing now is actually history repeating itself. It's now on a national scale that the media are demonizing this man in order to prove his guilt. What we did was we documented the Halbach case as it was unfolding. Whatever you're referencing now never came into that process at all. So it wasn't relevant to our process," Ricciardi said, according to Entertainment Weekly.

She stressed that they showed Avery "warts and all."

"Just because someone comes forth with a narrative for it, their interpretation of something doesn't make it factual, doesn't make it the truth," she said.

The filmmakers also noted that they're not defense or prosecution attorneys themselves, and Demos said that they regard the film as a "social justice documentary."

"We are trying to urge people to think more deeply what the series is about... and making sure our justice system is delivering verdicts we can rely on," Ricciardi said.

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This echoes the sentiment of Dean Strang, Avery's lawyer during his trial for the murder of Teresa Halbach. Strang has stated that he believes Avery may be guilty or may be innocent, but you don't convict people of crimes because of a maybe. "If our system worked on convicting people on maybes, then everybody could pat themselves on the back and go out and have a beer, convicting a man on a maybe," Strang told The Daily Beast.

In that regard, the documentary is more about our justice system and what reasonable doubt means, and less about determining if Avery committed the murder.

"What we document is a long list of irregularities," Demos said, according to USA Today. "If I were accused of a crime, this is not how I would want to be treated."

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