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FNC’s Judge Jeanine Pirro will host a one-hour special on everyone’s favorite topic du jour, the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer.
Steven Avery: Guilty or Framed? A Justice Special airs Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET on Fox News Channel. Pirro will investigate the controversial murder case of Steven Avery with a panel of legal experts. Pirro was famously involved in the last true crime docu-series-turned sensation, HBO’s The Jinx, which detailed the bizarre life of criminal cases against Robert Durst. We caught up with Pirro Friday afternoon for her thoughts on the documentary:
TVNewser: It seems like most of the things you feel were left out of the documentary came straight from the mouth of Ken Kratz, the prosecutor, who was painted in a negative light throughout the series. Why should we believe anything he says?
Pirro: It’s not about believing anything that Ken says, it’s about the facts and the evidence. A documentary, by definition, suggests that it is documented that there is truth to it. This is a one-sided defense advocacy piece. It’s not about believing one personality or another, it’s about evidence. Pure and simple. It appears that Steven Avery, although clearly wrongfully convicted of a rape, does have a bit of a history in the criminal justice system. He’s a convicted felon. He’s someone who has been convicted of animal cruelty for dousing a cat in gasoline and throwing it in a fire. He’s also convicted of driving a woman off the road and pointing a shotgun at her. Let’s not make like this guy just walked out of the choir and was framed. It’s about the implication in this so-called documentary is that the cops framed him. As someone who spent 30 years in criminal justice, I understand the issue quite well. There were times when I would file charges and times when I would not. But if you’re going to say the cops framed this guy then you have to be ready to say that the cops in two counties, the DA, the judge, the appellate courts and the FBI were involved in a conspiracy to frame Steven Avery. I don’t buy it.
TVNewser: You and Nancy Grace, two former prosecutors, are adamant that Avery is guilty and the documentary is biased. But other broadcasters seem to sympathize with Avery. Why do you think the case has people so divided, even among the media members covering it?
Pirro: When you have a documentary and you show one side and you show the pain, the angst, the trauma, the sadness that the defendants and their family go through and you don’t counterbalance that with the pain, the agony, the depression and the sadness that the victim’s family has gone through… This victim was stabbed in the throat, shot in the head and then burnt to bits. I mean, come on. There is one person who is dead here and that’s Teresa Halbach.
TVNewser: Assuming Avery is, indeed, guilty… Doesn’t it seem like the police could have still planted evidence to make sure he was convicted?
Pirro: I think a lot of people will come away with “police dropped the key” but here’s the most interesting part of that key. Look, I don’t know for sure what happened because I wasn’t there and there is a question there [regarding the key]. But who would have the motivation to clean the car key? No one other than Steven Avery. The cops wouldn’t need to clean her car key. There is nothing wrong with her fingerprints being on her own car key. But if it’s in Avery’s possession, then you clearly can’t have her prints on it. Only Avery would have the motive to clean her prints off it. By the way, sweat DNA is not something that you can just put under the hood of a car or put on a car key. Only Avery could do that.
TVNewser: Did you binge watch the entire 10-hour documentary?
Pirro: I watched it a little at a time. I kept saying, “Where is the other side?” I watched the whole thing. One of my girlfriends said to me “You have to watch this Netflix Making of a Murderer.” So I watched the first episode at home. But then, the more people started talking about it, I actually would use my personal hot spot on my phone to watch it on my laptop [during her commute]. I couldn’t stop watching it. I watched it any time I had a free moment. It was brilliant.
TVNewser: As a former DA, what do you think of the way detectives appeared to coerce a confession from Brendan Dassey?
Pirro: One of the things that I was disturbed by, honestly, was when they brought Brendan Dassey to speak with someone who kept telling him, “You have to say you’re sorry, you have to say you’re sorry.” I had never seen anything like this in my life. I’m not quite sure I would have tolerated that as a DA or as a judge. I ran a major office in a metropolitan area and I didn’t stand for crap like that. I was very disturbed by that.
TVNewser: So would you say that Brendan got a raw deal?
Pirro: I can’t say one way or another but there were some things that I was very concerned about with Brendan. The lawyer allowing him to speak without a lawyer being present. That’s a real problem right there. Actually videotaping him as he’s being told “You have to say you’re sorry, you have to say you’re sorry.” To me, and I’m a prosecutor at heart, to me that was very disturbing. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it one bit.
TVNewser: Any chance all this attention leads to another trial for Avery?
Pirro: You know, I have thought about that and I don’t see it. The truth is that Avery has exhausted his appellate remedies. There would have to be new evidence. There would have to be something new that they didn’t know of at the time. One of the complaints, I was just looking at the latest appeal is the ineffective assistance of counsel. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. His lawyers were phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. The only thing that I can imagine, and I’m really going off the edge here, is maybe something with Brendan’s case that might impact Avery’s case. I don’t know. Right now he has exhausted all of his state remedies.
TVNewser: What can we expect to learn on your special?
Pirro: Well, I have the sheriff and he reveals some stuff that’s not on the documentary and there was a lot of talk about those cops that weren’t allowed at the scene. You’re going to hear something very different on my show tomorrow night. I also have one of the defendant’s relatives, who just visited him within the last couple of weeks and talks about how he’s doing. I also do my own summation at the end of the show. I have two high-powered defense attorneys and someone who actually sat through the whole trial. We’re excited about the special.
TVNewser: Hypothetically, if you could sit down and have an off-the-record conversation and learn the entire truth about everything from either Robert Durst or Steven Avery, which one would you pick?
Pirro: [Long pause] Robert Durst. Only because he’s been so much a part of my life for 15 years. Steven Avery is a close second.