The continued investigation in the murder of Teresa Halbach has moved on considerably since Netflix’s Making A Murderer first aired in 2015. Here’s what you should know before you watch season two
The entire world may have seen all ten episodes of Netflix’s smash documentary Making a Murderer, but that’s not stopped everyone from continuing to talk about it or becoming obsessed with true crime.
Thankfully, we’re not short of new case information and updates to digest and add into our never-ending conversations. That’s due, in part to convicted murderer Steven Avery’s new lawyer Kathleen Zellner being brought in to replace original series hero Jerry Buting. As we’ve seen between series Zellner is not afraid to gift avid fans and amateur sleuths with slices of tasty, often cryptic new evidence through her Twitter feed.
Unsurprisingly didn’t take long for filmmakers to pick the case back up and interview Avery for ‘future episodes’, and we now have confirmation that a second season of the show will arrive on Netflix on October 19.
With plenty of evidence that appears to have been completely missed the first time around, we’ll definitely be glued to our screens all over again when season two rolls around.
Here are 12 important things that have happened in Avery’s case since Making A Murderer first hit our screens…
The Secret Brother
The name Earl Avery ring any bells? No, probably not, and for good reason – Steven’s younger brother was notably absent from the Making A Murderer documentary. Earl’s name only became entwined in the case when a 2009 court filing was unearthed, in which Steven claimed his brothers had motive to kill Teresa Halbach for money, a share of the family business and his former girlfriend. This is a statement that Steven went on to apologise for.
That said, it took Earl until 2016 to finally come forward with a witness account that could throw the Manitowoc Police Department’s timeline into the shredder.
Speaking about the night Halbach was murdered, Earl claimed her car was not even on their land before police found it: “We drove right through there, where that car was supposed to be and it wasn’t there. That night of the 31st, we were rabbit hunting,” he told Access Hollywood in his first ever interview. He even claimed he told the police this, but they “didn’t say nothing about it.”
The Reddit Spot
Ah, the ‘planted’ key.
Depending on what side of the innocent/guilty fence you fall on, the car key found under dodgy circumstances by investigators either damns Avery or proves the Manitowoc’s deep-set corruption. Either way, Reddit users think they’ve spotted something far more important when it comes to that piece of evidence.
They believe that the image above, one used repeatedly through the documentary, shows Halbach’s RAV4 key was on an assorted ring of keys, and not on its own, as the police found it. If that’s the case, somebody must have removed it from the rest of her keys after her death and before dropping it in that corner of the trailer. Avery? The police? Somebody else? Who knows…
The Cell Phone Tower Records
Alright, this is the bit that really piqued the attention of the Making a Murderer armchair detectives. Zellner isn’t shy when it comes to dropping snippets of newly-discovered intelligence over on her Twitter account, but the revelation that Halbach MUST have left Avery’s property alive is the biggest eye-opener yet.
If her uncovered cell phone tower records check out, she claims to be able to document the victim’s route as she leaves the presence of Avery… alive. Zellner told Newsweek: “She goes back the same way she came, she’s 12 miles from the property on the last ping…It’s really hard to figure out how in the world the defense did not seize on this. It would have created reasonable doubt.”
The Frightened Juror
Filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, the two who made Making a Murderer, hit NBC’s Today show back in January 2016 and delivered a hammer blow to the legitimacy of Avery’s court proceedings. There, they revealed that an unnamed juror had in fact believed the suspect to be innocent (or more accurately ‘not proven guilty’), but gave a guilty verdict in fear of their own safety.
“They told us really that they were afraid that if they held out for a mistrial that it would be easy to identify which juror had done that and that they were fearful for their own safety,” Demos said.
The ‘Unidentified’ Bones
Pop your eyeballs back into your skull – you read that correctly. Campaigners for Avery’s freedom believe that none of the protocols surrounding the testing of the remains found on Avery’s land were followed, and evidence was logged so poorly that it could have easily been tampered with. They even go so far as to question whether the FBI tested the bones at all, given the bone evidence in court was listed as ‘charred material’ and never properly proven to share the DNA of Halbach.
Lynne Blanchard from ‘Stop Wrongful Convictions’ says, “Why weren’t protocols followed? No coroner, forensic anthropologist, arson investigator of photographer was called to the scene when the evidence was discovered… until after the evidence was shovelled up and taken to the sheriff’s office. Something’s wrong and it becomes difficult to accept this evidence as presented.”
The New Suspect
We all have our own theories as to who actually killed Halbach, not least Avery’s own new lawyer. Keeping her cards very close to her chest so as not to “scare him off”, Kathleen Zellner boldly told Newsweek, when asked about potential suspects, “We have a couple. I’d say there’s one, leading the pack by a lot.” Zellner has openly questioned why Avery’s previous legal team failed to look into other potential perpetrators in their investigations – a path that she is dead-set on treading.
The Dodgy Death Certificate
We’ll cut to the case here: this official document is one heck of a mess as we reported at the time.
At a glance, you can instantly see that the word ‘Undetermined’ is simply crossed out under ‘Cause of death’ before being seeing it confirmed as homicide, as well as noting that a body hasn’t been located even though in another part of the paper it states an autopsy has been completed. For many, this goes some way to prove that the authorities were rushing through an Avery conviction and that evidence was handled extremely incompetently. Worth questioning why such an official document could be so epicly bungled, no?
The New Tests
A lot has changed since Avery’s conviction back in 2007, including the way in which convictions can be made, or indeed overturned.
Zellner has taken many samples from her client since coming onto the case, and is looking to use “advanced luminol testing” to exonerate him. In simple chat, these tests aim to detect blood that can’t be seen by eye. Quite what she’s hoping to prove, we’re as yet unsure, but sounds like she has a plan…
The British CSI Expert’s Questions
Over to Sussex now, where CSI expert Chris Gee thinks he’s asked one question that nobody else has.
In a four-part YouTube video series looking into the case, he determines that even though Avery’s blood was found near the ignition of Halbach’s Toyota, it doesn’t actually place him there – the possibility arises that somebody with Avery’s blood on them was. Confused? Watch it for yourself here. Note the excellent placement of the CSI mug.
The Petition to the White House
It takes a huge 100,000 signatures for The White House to become obliged to consider a petition made on the government’s We The People website. Thanks to 129,886 people signing the dotted line, that’s exactly what happened.
However, things didn’t exactly go to plan for all those calling for Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey’s freedom. Why? Because it’s only able to grant pardons for crimes committed against the USA. Ten outta ten for effort though, eh?
The prosecutor’s response
Anyone familiar with the first run of Making a Murderer will likely have strong opinions about Ken Kratz, the prosecutor in Avery’s case who, until recently, served as District Attorney for Calumet County in Wisconsin. Kratz resigned from his post in 2010, in the aftermath of a sexting scandal unrelated to the events covered in the documentary.
In an interview ahead of the release of his book Avery: The Case Against Steven Avery and What ‘Making a Murderer’ Gets Wrong, Kratz claimed the filmmakers “distorted and misrepresented the case.
“They knew they had a narrative to present and they picked and chose certain clips, they shuffled things around to make it look sketchy and they omitted a lot of the relevant evidence,” he argued.
Brendan Dassey’s fate has been up in the air… a lot
Making a Murderer wasn’t just about the conviction of Steven Avery, of course - Brendan Dassey was also sent down for his alleged part in the crimes, and viewers of the show expressed concern at his confession having been coerced.
In 2016, magistrate judge William Duffin ordered for the release of Dassey, a teenager at the time of his imprisonment, on the grounds that Duffin found Dassey’s confession to have been coerced. However, that was not the end of things.
The appeals court blocked that initial release, only for a three-judge panel to support the decision to overturn. However, after that, there was a further appeal which resulted in 4-3 vote ruling that Dassey’s confession had in fact been obtained properly. Dassey’s lawyers have filed a further petition in the months since, but that was denied and he remains behind bars.