Is “Making a Murderer’s” Steven Avery guilty or innocent? A lot of people seem to have an opinion on the subject, with debate raging across the media landscape, from HLN’s Nancy Grace, who attempted to provide “an avalanche of evidence” against Avery in a recent broadcast, to petitions urging President Obama to pardon the Manitowoc County, Wisconsin native.
Two voices that have remained conspicuously quiet on the subject of Avery’s culpability belong to “Making a Murderer” creators Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, who were on hand at Netflix’s panel for the docu-series at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif. on Sunday.
Initially resistant to reporters’ attempts to cajole them into making a judgment on Avery’s predicament, the directors ultimately conceded that they believe — leaving aside Avery’s guilt or innocence in Teresa Halbach’s murder — that he was unfairly victimized throughout the process of his trial, and that current attempts to prove his guilt by pundits such as Grace are just an example of “history repeating itself; it’s now on a national scale that the media are demonizing this man,” Ricciardi said. “My main takeaway is that each and every one of us is entitled to justice. Each and every accused, regardless of how they’ve been characterized or demonized, is entitled to justice.”
She added, “Just because someone is coming forward now with a narrative, their interpretation of something doesn’t make it factual and doesn’t make it truth.”
Demos agreed, “What we document in the series is a long list of irregularities … I can say that if I was accused of a crime, this is not how I would want to be treated.”
As for whether Avery has been able to watch the documentary that’s currently dominating the cultural discussion, Ricciardi said that Avery had asked “the warden and his social worker if he’d be able to see it and his request was denied.”
When a reporter made reference to recent statements made by Avery’s ex-fiancee Jodi Stachowski, in which she called him a “monster” and accused him of domestic abuse, Ricciardi said, “I can’t say why Jodi is saying what she is in the media today. I can say that when we filmed with her 9 years ago, this was what she was saying … this is an accurate portrayal of what she was saying and feeling at the time.”
While she conceded that “we absolutely have a point of view,” Ricciardi maintained that they tried to remain impartial to the process. “This is a documentary, we’re documentary filmmakers, we’re not prosecutors, we’re not defense attorneys — we did not set out to convict or exonerate anyone, we set out to examine the justice system and how it’s functioning today.”
As for the prosecution’s claims that they omitted crucial information to sway viewers towards sympathizing with Avery, Ricciardi said, “We took our cues from the prosecution, what they thought was the most compelling evidence… of what was omitted, was it really significant? The answer is no.”