Wrongful Convictions At The Crux Of ‘Making A Murderer’ And FAILURE OF JUSTICE
Who would have predicted that a Christmastime 10-part documentary on a true-crime right here in Wisconsin would spark international interest in America’s criminal justice system and the plight of wrongful convictions like we’ve never seen before? My new true crime book, FAILURE OF JUSTICE, describes such a case, as did the Netflix series, ‘Making a Murderer,’ which I’ve written about extensively.
Making A Murderer captured the essence of the story of Steven Avery, an uneducated, easy-going man from rural Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. By age 23, Avery wound up wrongfully imprisoned for a vicious beachfront rape of a prominent Manitowoc business woman who was attacked while jogging along the sandy shores of Lake Michigan.
Avery professed his innocence. He produced multiple eyewitnesses who assured the court that Avery was home and working around his family’s salvage yard business at the time of the rape 15 minutes away.
It didn’t matter. A jury of Manitowoc County residents found Avery guilty. He lost 18 years of freedom to a wrongful conviction. The real predator, Gregory Allen, went on to rape and harm other women. He was finally caught in 1995 in Green Bay.
Two years after his exoneration, Avery was accused of murdering 25-year-old Teresa Halbach. She was a small-town Wisconsin farm girl and a regular visitor to the Avery Salvage Yard because of her free-lance job with Auto Trader magazine. In 2007, in separate jury trials, Avery and his teenage nephew, Brendan Dassey, were both convicted of the murder. The Netflix series sparked debate about the legitimacy of both murder convictions, such as whether they were framed by police authorities, received fair trials, and if the Wisconsin authorities identified the right killer.
Because of the huge interest in ‘Making a Murderer’ I’ve been busy the past several months as an investigative journalist here in Wisconsin. I’ve continued to dig into the Halbach murder case and uncover fresh story angles for the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. In late April, I made my first-ever visit to the Avery Salvage Yard where I spent a few hours with Steven Avery’s brothers, Chuck and Earl, plus their parents, Allan and Delores. The Averys all remain hopeful that Illinois-based attorney Kathleen Zellner will be able to overturn Steven Avery’s conviction, as she has proclaimed on social media that she will eventually do.
Here are the links to my articles about the Steven Avery, ‘Making A Murderer,” case:
Like the series “Making a Murderer,” John Ferak’s new true crime book from WildBlue Press, FAILURE OF JUSTICE, also shines light on a wrongful conviction case. FAILURE OF JUSTICE details the wrongful imprisonment of those involved in the Beatrice 6 case, the largest wrongful conviction case ever in the U.S. Get your copy today!