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Popular Netflix series highlights potential vagaries of criminal justice system, P.1

Readers have undoubtedly heard at least a bit about the popular Netflix series Making a Murderer, and at least some of our readers have probably watched the series with great interest. For those who may not have heard much of the hubbub, it is a 10-episode series tracking Wisconsin man Steven Avery and his involvement with the criminal justice system in Manitowoc County.

Avery was part of a family that owned a junkyard and had frequent dealings with the law. Avery himself had some involvement in the law before he was convicted of rape in 1985, when he was 23 years old. Avery served 18 years in prison on that conviction, maintaining his innocence from beginning to end, and was exonerated in 2003 based on DNA evidence that tied another man to the crime. That man had apparently been a potential suspect when the crime was being investigated, but authorities didn’t pursue him because they believed Avery was their man. 

The story didn’t end there, but continued with Avery being arrested in 2005—during a multimillion dollar lawsuit for wrongful conviction—for the murder of a 25-year-old woman whose car and remains were found in the Avery family junkyard.  

Once again, Avery maintained, and still maintains, his innocence. Both he and his family believe local law enforcement authorities were biased against them because of their history and reputation in the community, and Avery even claimed that officers framed him in the current case.

In our next post, we’ll look a bit more at this case and the importance of working with an experienced defense attorney when facing serious criminal charges.

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