Investigation Discovery will air a documentary news special focusing on the events in the hugely popular Netflix true-crime series “Making a Murderer,” the Discovery-owned channel announced Thursday at its Television Critics Association press day in Pasadena, Calif.
The news program, which is produced by NBC’s Peacock Productions, will be part of ID’s “Front Page” series and be hosted by “Dateline NBC” correspondent Keith Morrison. It promises to look at critical details surrounding the Steven Avery murder trial at the center of the Netflix project.
“We feel compelled to display some of the critical details missing from the Netflix production,” said Henry Schleiff, group president, Investigation Discovery, American Heroes Channel and Destination America, said at TCA. “In an attempt to provide critical and crucial testimonies that surround … Steven Avery.”
“Front Page: The Steven Avery Story” began production this week and will air in mid-January.
“We are excited to share with viewers the latest in this compelling saga,” said Schleiff in a statement. “Following our investigation, we expect that ‘Front Page: The Steven Avery Story’ will present crucial testimony and information that addresses many of the questions surrounding Steven Avery.”
“Making a Murderer” premiered in December and mainly focused on Avery, a Wisconsin man exonerated by DNA evidence after spending 18 years in prison for a sexual assault he didn’t commit — only to be re-arrested in 2005 and made to stand trial for the rape and murder of another woman, 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach. The documentary series, which is written and directed by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, strongly suggests that Avery is innocent of these crimes.
The series spurred national attention to the case and even resulted in White House petition asking for a pardon of Avery and his nephew, Brandon Dassey, who is also serving time for Halbach’s death.
Demos and Ricciardi told Variety earlier this week that their focus with the documentary was never to rally for exonerating Avery for the murder of Halbach, but to use the story of his prosecution to examine shortcomings of the criminal justice system. They are not connected to the White House petition or other online drives asking for Avery’s pardon.
“People are quite focused on the (Teresa) Halbach case itself and to effect change in that case. We respect that people are doing that but it wasn’t our goal,” Ricciardi said. “We weren’t taking up Steven Avery’s cause or Brendan Dassey’s cause. The public seems to be doing that now.”
Demos added: “Our goal was to start a dialogue about (the justice) system and what we can do to be more responsible to everyone who comes through it.”
Demos acknowledged that “Murderer” is coming in for criticism from some of the police and legal officials featured and others who are motivated to scrutinize every detail of the Avery case.
“We are seeing the accusations lodged about our process with the documentary and our point of view,” she said. “We hope those will subside so we can focus on what’s meaningful about the work.”
Fox New Channel is also producing a special about the case, which will air at 8 p.m. on Jan. 9. “Steven Avery: Guilty or Framed? A Justice Special” will be hosted by “Justice with Judge Jeanine’s” Jeanine Pirro and will feature a panel of experts in the legal industry who will dig into the case and debate the verdict.
Other Investigation Discovery programs showcased at TCA include “Hate in America,” a docuseries that teams journalist Tony Harris with the Southern Poverty Law Center to showcase the organization’s case files and look at racism and bigotry in the country.