‘Making a Murderer’ Updates: Trials Continue, Second Season Possible

By Stephanie Kossman

It’s been five months since Making a Murderer premiered on Netflix, but the story is far from over. If you need a reminder, a timeline of all the evidence presented in the series is available here. But since December, Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey have continued to fight for their innocence. With all of the new information unfolding, Making a Murderer directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos are hoping there’s enough material for a second season, and they’re currently conducting interviews with Avery to ensure it’s possible. But in the meantime, The Chalk has put together an update on all of the major events that have occurred since the season ended.

Steven Avery

(Photo credit: Netflix)

(Photo credit: Netflix)

In January, almost a month after Making a Murderer premiered, Steven Avery filed a new appeal. There’s no guarantee a judge will agree to hear it, but the appeal is not Avery’s only chance at being released from prison.  

One day after Avery’s appeal was filed, a new defense team took over his case. Leading the team is Kathleen Zellner, a veteran defense attorney who has exonerated 17 falsely convicted men in the past. Zellner has made it clear – through plenty of media interviews and tweets – that she isn’t planning for Avery’s appeal to be heard. Instead, she is going to argue for Avery’s exoneration.

If Zellner is able to introduce new evidence that absolves Avery of the murder of Teresa Halbach, Avery could completely skip a retrial and an appeal would not be necessary to free him. To achieve this, Zellner hopes to prove either that Halbach’s phone records show she left the Avery property alive, that the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department planted evidence, or that someone else is guilty of the murder.

Meanwhile, Avery is facing stricter controls in prison, where he has been labeled as a flight risk. But even from behind prison bars, Avery continues to passionately advocate for his innocence by writing letters. In January, he wrote a three-page letter to Fox News that stated, “The real killer is still out there. Who is he stalking now? I am really innocent of this case and that is the truth!!! The truth will set me free!!!!!!!”

Brendan Dassey

Unlike Avery, who was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole, Brendan Dassey is eligible for parole – but not until 2048.

Since Making a Murderer premiered, the legal team at Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth has taken Dassey’s case to federal court on a lawsuit that claims Dassey was coerced by the police, betrayed by his former attorney, and wrongfully convicted. The petition, which could lead to Dassey’s release, is currently pending before Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His decision can be made at any time.

During the wait, Dassey has been transferred from Green Bay Correctional Facility to Columbia Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison. Dassey has also been involved in a new case against Steven Avery. In February, a reporter said Dassey claimed Steven Avery inappropriately touched him, but Dassey has denied those claims.  

Jerry Buting and Dean Strang

Making a Murderer

Making a Murderer

Avery’s former defense team, Jerry Buting and Dean Strang, became the unexpected heroes of Making a Murderer. Though they’re no longer part of Avery’s case, they have dedicated their careers to spreading the word about the problems with the American legal system in a speaking tour called “A Conversation on Justice.” Buting also recently signed a deal with HarperCollins to write a book about the legal system, and Strang will host a TV series that examines past court cases for systematic flaws in the justice system.