Netflix’s latest hit original show, true crime documentary series Making a Murderer, is the pop culture touchstone that launched a thousand think-pieces on the criminal justice system and fan theories on “what really happened.”
[CAUTION: Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t watched the series.]
Just a few weeks after the show debuted on Netflix
, multiple petitions have garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures from viewers who want lawmakers to release Steven Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, from prison. Those petitioners believe there was a miscarriage of justice when Avery and Dassey were convicted (separately) of murdering 25-year-old Teresa Halbach in 2005. The Making a Murderer series depicts the trials of both Avery and Dassey, which ended with their convictions in 2007 and in which the defendants’ respective attorneys alleged that their clients were the victims of police misconduct.
Avery and Dassey are both currently serving life in prison, with only Dassey eligible for parole in 2048.
In the weeks since the series debuted, there has been an Internet firestorm that has included countless opinions on whether or not justice was truly served and whether Avery may have suffered the second wrongful conviction of his life (he previously spent 18 years in prison for a sexual assault conviction that was later overturned due to new DNA evidence).
While a White House petition has reached the requisite 100,000 signatures to force a response, President Obama issued a statement, noting that the federal government could not overturn Avery’s state conviction (and, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has said he has no plans to issue a pardon). In the meantime, non-profit legal organization the Innocence Project has said that one of its members is “looking into” Avery’s case.
At the same time, Making a Murderer‘s massive popularity has also taken a handful of Wisconsin attorneys and turned them into either heroes or pariahs (for the time being, at least) in the eyes of many of the series’ viewers. Avery’s defense team is generally seen as the heroic side of the murder trial at the center of the documentary. Those defense attorneys are now enjoying a certain amount of celebrity, while other lawyers and law enforcement officials depicted in the Netflix series haven’t been so lucky.
Here’s a look at what happened to some of the people at the heart of Making a Murderer‘s compelling narrative.