Steven Avery looks around a courtroom in the Calumet County Courthouse before the verdict was read in his trial on March 18, 2007.APIt's fair to say Steven Avery's supporters have increased 100-fold after Netflix released its documentary series "Making a Murderer" earlier this month.
To recap, Avery was exonerated for the rape and attempted murder of a female jogger after already serving 18 years in prison for the crime. After a jubilant return to his home in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, he brought a $36 million civil suit against the county and several individuals from the police department who were involved in his arrest and conviction.
But as depositions started for the civil suit, Avery was arrested for murdering photographer Teresa Halbach, who was last seen on the Avery family's property in 2005 photographing a car.
Avery, as well as his 16-year-old nephew Brendan Dassey, were convicted of the murder and they're currently serving life sentences for that and other related crimes.
After watching the Netflix series, viewers have been sickened by many aspects of the Halbach investigation and trial, especially the apparently close involvement of the Manitowoc Police Department's Sgt. Andrew Colborn and Lt. James Lenk — both of whom were named in Avery's ongoing civil suit at the time.
In his department's defense, Manitowoc County Sheriff Robert Hermann told htrnews.com that the documentary isn't a fair portrayal of the Halbach investigation.
"I won’t call it a documentary, because a documentary puts things in chronological order and tells the story as it is... I’ve heard things are skewed," said Hermann, who hasn't watched the series but has been discussing it with the department. "They’ve taken things out of context and taken them out of the order in which they occurred, which can lead people to a different opinion or conclusion."
Nevertheless, the documentary lays out several possible theories for Avery and Dassey's innocence. And those obsessed with the show have been discussing them at length on Reddit and elsewhere online.
Here's a look at some of the reasons why "Making a Murderer" obsessives believe the men to be wrongfully convicted:
Steven Avery with his father and mother.Netflix
Lack of motive: Why would Avery, a man who was recovering his life after being wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years, do anything to return to prison? Why would he target Halbach, who was there to snap photos of a car to be sold? And why would Avery, on the cusp of winning a huge payment from the county in his civil suit, endanger his winnings?
Alibis: Both Avery and Dassey were witnessed by family members during the span in which Halbach was allegedly attacked, killed, and her body destroyed. Avery also had a receipt from Burger King and eyewitnesses who could place him there during the same timeframe. Avery spoke with his fiance, who was in jail for a DUI arrest, twice that day for at least 15 minutes and she said he showed no signs of nervousness or desire to hurry off the phone.
Brendan Dassey appears in court on April 16, 2007.AP
Dassey's "confession": It appears clear that police steered Dassey, who's learning disabled, toward describing what happened during the alleged crime. At first, he said he went over to Avery's for a bonfire that evening. They pressed him for more story and even suggested specifics, which resulted in Dassey revealing conflicting details in a confession. Dassey's mother wasn't notified that her son was being interrogated and wasn't present during the interrogations. Also, his lawyer Len Kachinsky allowed the teen to be interrogated without being present, which would later lead to the judge removing him from representing Dassey.
Halbach's keys: Manitowoc County wasn't supposed to take part in searches of the Avery property. Yet it was Lt. James Lenk who eventually found Halbach's car keys in Avery's room in plain view, despite being missed in previous searches. Avery's DNA would be found on Halbach's keys, but no one else's — not even the victim's. That led to speculation from the defense that the keys were scrubbed and Avery's DNA was planted on them.
Halbach's car: Sgt. Andrew Colborn called into police dispatch to run the Halbach car's plates. When he was told the car had been reported missing, he said, "'99 Toyota?" During the trial, he was unable to explain how he knew that detail — one reason some have speculated that he drove the car to the Avery property.
Calumet County Distrist Attorney Ken Kratz give his closing argument while a photo of Teresa Halbach's car is displayed on a courtroom screen Wednesday, March 14, 2007, during Steven Avery's trial at the Calumet County Courthouse in Chilton, Wis.AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool
Blood evidence in Halbach's car: Police found Avery's blood in different areas of the car. His attorneys would later discover that a vial of Avery's blood had been tampered with. That lends itself to the theory that blood could've been planted in the victim's car.
Investigators also found Halbach's blood next to Avery's. That didn't fit with the prosecution's own timeline of events, since Avery allegedly killed Halbach in the garage then burned the body in the fire pit. At no point would he have had to transport the bloody victim in the car.
The lack of blood evidence in Avery's bedroom: According to the prosecution's theory, Halbach had her throat slit by Dassey while being raped and tied to the bed. But no blood was found on the mattress or the floor, or anywhere in the room.
Steven Avery's defense attorney Dean Strang questions forensic anthropologist Leslie Eisenberg while a animation of a human skeleton is projected on a screen during testimony in the Steven Avery trial on Thursday, March 1, 2007 at the Calumet County Courthouse in Chilton, Wis.AP Photo/Jaslyn Gilbert, Pool
Location of the bone fragments: There were bones found in the fire pit, but also a small amount in a quarry a distance away. The defense argued that if Avery and Dassey were trying to hide the bones, why would they leave a large amount of them in the fire pit close to Avery's trailer? Wouldn't that be where the smaller amount of bone fragments would be found with the bulk of the bones in the quarry where they tried to hide them?
Other suspects: The defense did not elaborate about other potential suspects in the trial, but online sleuths have pointed to Halbach's male roommate, who didn't report her missing for three days, and her ex-boyfriend. According to phone records, messages were erased on Halbach's phone after her disappearance. The boyfriend admitted he knew her mobile phone password. In fact, her brother also said he knew the password. They weren't asked for alibis.