The fascination with the 10-part true crime documentary Making a Murderer continues. Investigation Discovery has partnered with NBC’s Peacock Productions to produce a special, Front Page: The Steven Avery Story, which will air later this month. FNC’s Jeanine Pirro will devote her show to the case tomorrow night, and tonight HLN presents Nancy Grace Mysteries: Teresa Halbach.
By now, you probably know the story: a wrongfully convicted man who spent 18 years in prison, is set free, only to be arrested two years later for murder. The documentary leaves viewers wondering if the man, Steven Avery, has been set up by police.
But Grace, a staunch supporter of victims’ rights, believes police, the prosecution, and the jury got it right. And that the real victim is 25-year-old Teresa Halbach, who found herself on Avery’s property on Oct. 31, 2005, summoned to take pictures of a van for Auto Trader, but never to be seen again.
Avery called into Grace’s show back in 2005 after Halbach went missing, but before he was arrested. Grace thought he was guilty back in 2005 and the Netflix series hasn’t changed her mind one bit. We talked to Grace before the taping of her show Thursday night:
TVNewser: You called the series a “miscarriage of justice.” But justice, in your estimation, was still done, right? Since Steven Avery is in prison for life?
Grace: In that sense, yes. Justice was done and Avery was convicted. I go to air tonight and I’m going to discuss the fact that another juror has spoken out, stating that there were no threats, no coercion, nobody was afraid during jury deliberations. This juror said that the jury “slept like a baby after the conviction” and would be “sick” if Avery were released. What, to me, is unjust is trying to force the White House or the government into a pardon. When you look at the Netflix documentary, it’s a beautifully put together piece and very persuasive. But it’s like having one half of a trial. It’s not the whole story.
TVNewser: Have you watched all 10 hours of the documentary?
Grace: After several hours I couldn’t take it anymore. I kept waiting to hear the other side. I interviewed Avery [in 2005] and it didn’t take a minute for his story to fall apart. I had him on satellite. I didn’t even have him on the stand under oath and he cracked. His story fell apart under my simple questioning because his story wasn’t true.
TVNewser: What particular part of his story are you referring to, that fell apart?
Grace: Him trying to explain how Halbach’s car somehow ended up on his property. The story did not make sense.
TVNewser: Can you paint us a picture of your viewing experience? Were you on the couch with some popcorn or watching it at the office for work purposes?
Grace: This is not entertainment to me. I am focused on two things, my family and pursuing criminal justice. And I have been for a very, very long time. I watched this alone. I was just stunned. I got my monthly Amex bill and saw the Netflix charge and thought, ‘I actually paid to help fund these producers.” That’s the irony. But no. I did not have popcorn and enjoy it. I watched it to learn about the case and the more I watched it the more upset I became.
TVNewser: What seems to lead many to believe that Avery couldn’t have done this, is that the only evidence found in the bedroom was the key to her car. Do you think he had the wherewithal to clean up a brutal murder scene in the few days before police looked through his bedroom?
Grace: That question significantly ignores the rest of the forensic evidence. For instance, Avery’s sweat. How can police possibly produce Avery’s sweat and plant it under the hood of the car? He told me himself that she was there, at his place, the day she disappeared. Her body [bone fragments after her body, prosecutors say, was burned in a bonfire] was found in his, essentially, backyard.
TVNewser: What about the key that was found in the bedroom only having his DNA on it? Wouldn’t the key have had Teresa’s DNA on it? That’s kind of odd, right?
Grace: No, it’s not odd. Her fingerprints, I would have thought, may have been on there but the size of they key, I don’t know how easily a print could be lifted off a key. But DNA in the form of sweat or tissue, I could easily believe was his on the key. If all you had was just his DNA on the key in his bedroom then I could see them making a decent argument. That’s like the blind man feeling the tail of an elephant. You can’t see the whole picture. That’s my problem with the Netflix documentary. And that documentary has made people, over 300,000 of them, disbelieve in the jury system.
TVNewser: Do you think the media is covering the documentary in a responsible manner?
Grace: Well, frankly I don’t think that it matters what I say, or what other talking heads say. What matters is what a jury says. I don’t know that jurors are listening to legal pundits, including myself. When the media believes they’re effecting jury decisions, they’re taking themselves way too seriously.
TVNewser: As a former DA, what do you think of the attorneys in this case, especially Len Kachinsky, who is being criticized for seeming to force a confession from a teenager he was supposed to be defending?
Grace: I think that attacking the lawyer on either side is clouding the issue of who killed Teresa Halbach. Now, talking about the nephew [Brendan Dassey] who, amazingly made statements that exactly matched up to all the forensics. I think that regardless of what the lawyer may or may not have done, that alone proves to me that Dassey was there. There is no way this guy would have known all that if he had not been there.
TVNewser: So you believe that Brendan Dassey is also guilty?
Grace: I think Dassey is guilty, at the least, of raping Teresa Halbach before her death. He stated that she begged him not to do it and that she begged him to stop his uncle. And to “do the right thing.” I believe that was the time he was telling the truth. I believe that version because it’s corroborated by the forensic evidence.
TVNewser: The documentary has certainly given true crime buffs, and cable hosts like you who cover these cases, something to talk about, but what do you think is being lost in the coverage of Marking a Murderer?
Grace: Our coverage is trying to give the other side of the story. The side that was not presented in the Netflix documentary. You know what? I have to commend the people who signed the petition in one way. They want justice. They’ve seen this documentary and it is beautifully put together and very persuasive. It just leaves out the facts. I think people are good and they want the right thing and they want truth to prevail. They’ve been mislead.
TVNewser: So you understand how someone that doesn’t have your insight could watch the series and think Avery is innocent? You get why people are fired up?