By Jim Hagerty
As “Making a Murderer” fans wait for new episodes, a petition circulating online is asking Netflix to remove the first season and cancel whatever is currently in the works.
“With the recent allegations against many actors, producers, politicians, reporters and many well-known people in general, many companies are making a ‘no tolerance’ policy,” the Change.org petition reads.“Netflix has shown this in the firing of Kevin Spacey and cancellation of Louis CK’s comedy special.
“The morally & ethically right thing for Netflix to do would be to follow their own policy as they did with Kevin Spacey and Louis CK, and cancel the second season immediately while denouncing sexual assault and abuse on women.”
The petition was started by Twitter user “Boston Brett,” who, like masses of other “Making a Murderer” viewers, walked away believing Steven Avery was wrongfully convicted in the 2005 death of Teresa Halbach. He then read the case files, which prompted questions he said were answered by some of the key players in the documentary. Those answers and what he discovered in the pages of trial transcripts, police reports and other documents told another story–one vastly different from the claim that Avery was framed.
“A few months of research afterwards led me to the conclusion he was, in fact, guilty,” Brett said.
The campaign isn’t about rehashing the case though. Brett and others who’ve signed the petition say that argument was settled in 2007 when a jury convicted Avery of first-degree murder. It’s now about snuffing out a narrative that some say has deceived millions of people.
“MaM seems to not prioritize the importance of the violent and sexual convictions of the subjects of the documentary, thus leaving the viewers with incomplete facts,” Brett added.
Rich Donovan, of New Jersey, agrees. And as a former “truther,” his arrival at Avery’s guilt involved a revelation that he, too, had been fooled.
“If the truth about Avery was used in the film, the notion of law enforcement ‘out to get him’ becomes implausible,” Donovan said. “They needed him to be the victim when, in actuality, he left a string of victims in his wake.”
From his conviction for running his female cousin off the road and pointing a gun at her, to accusations of a sexual relationship with an underage family member, there’s a lot more to Steven Avery than the documentarians allowed the public to see, Donovan said. Then there’s the Avery family, ripped apart by what some say was his propensity for sexual violence that grew stronger during an 18-year prison stint for something he didn’t do.
And although those who want to see “Making a Murder”gone from Netflix admit that Avery’s past is not directly related to what happened to Halbach, it was only glazed over in the film, desensitized to bolster Steven’s likability. But it didn’t have to be that way.
“All the signs were there for Moira [Demos] and Laura [Ricciardi] to see, and they chose to make good, honorable men look like criminals,” Donovan said. “Personally, I find it unconscionable.”
Those men are main MaM villains, former prosecutor Ken Kratz and Manitowoc County deputies Andy Colborn and James Lenk. Investigators Mark Wiegert and Tom Fassbender took their lumps, too, but mostly in the Brendan Dassey case. Each deny any involvement in framing Avery, with Kratz being the most vocal. And while he echoes Boston Brett and Donovan, Kratz’s bent toward “Making a Murderer” starts with the deceptive editing for which it won a Primetime Emmy.
The ex-Calumet County DA also chided the production for excluding key trial evidence, something Demos and Ricciardi claim they did because of time constraints, not to deceive their audience.
As of this report, the petition to nix “Making a Murderer” has garnered 1,100 signatures in two days. Boston Brett says he hopes it will equal the success of a petition urging Netflix to cancel “The Ranch” amid allegations that Danny Masterson sexually assaulted four women in the early 2000s. Netflix did not cancel the popular comedy, but fired Masterson after 38,000 supporters signed the petition.
“First and foremost, the petition was started to honor the memory of Teresa Halbach, who was a victim of a violent crime,” Brett said. “We will push for as many signatures as it takes in order to get Netflix’s attention. They received a letter when the petition started, so they are already aware of our intent. We will send them updates with every 5,000 signatures we get.”
An air date for a second season has not been announced. Tentative dates were set this year but a variety of circumstances pushed them back. That left December the last chance for fans to see new material this year, but it was left off the list.
A source The Times talked to this fall said episodes have already been screened by the Avery family. It was reported that a rift between filmmakers and Avery’s attorney Kathleen Zellner is partially to blame for the delay. Zellner denied that, saying in a previous report that she has not had a falling out with anyone. Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi could not be reached for comment. R.