Just over a year ago, Netflix released the 10-episode true crime documentary series Making a Murderer, which had millions of viewers wondering who really murdered Teresa Halbach in rural Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, in 2005. While many were conflicted about whether the two men convicted of the crime, Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, were truly guilty, almost everyone agreed that the investigation and trial were deeply flawed at best.
Last night, Dateline NBC aired a new special, “Return to Manitowoc County,” that reviewed the case and shared three new interviews that shed more light on what happened during the case and what has transpired since, giving a voice to a few characters from the series who didn't give interviews to the filmmakers. Let's take a look at the new information that they shared.
Co-lead investigator Tom Fassbender gave his first televised interview, and he used it to defend his actions during the investigation, especially his extremely controversial interrogation of Dassey. He had pressured the mentally delayed teenager to confess to assisting with Halbach's murder.
Fassbender told Dateline, “It’s easy to armchair quarterback. We didn’t try to manipulate Brendan. We just tried to get at the truth. And I don’t believe it was a false confession. Are there parts of it that he may have not done? I don’t know.” He continued, “I legitimately was concerned for him. That wasn’t staged. That wasn’t strategy.”
When asked about Dassey's recent release, which came about after Making a Murderer aired, Fassbender said he had mixed emotions, though he still believed that Dassey was involved with the murder.
Finally, Fassbender also stated that he did not believe anything was planted during the investigation or that mistakes were made by anyone involved.
Viewers at home sounded off about the investigator's arguments. Some were skeptical of his side of the story.
One of the most memorable people from Making a Murderer was Dassey's defense attorney, Len Kachinsky — and it's not for good reasons. Many believe that the awkward, bumbling lawyer's many errors during the investigation and trial landed Dassey in prison. But on Dateline, Kachinsky reiterated what he's said in past interviews: that, although it was a big mistake to let his client talk to the police alone and without legal representation, his ineptitude did not directly affect the verdict.
Nope, viewers weren't buying it.
Let us pray that the next time we need a public defender, Kachinsky doesn't walk into the room.
Perhaps the biggest villain of Making a Murderer was Manitowoc County District Attorney Ken Kratz, who came off throughout the series as an unlikable, obtuse prosecutor who stood in the way of justice, whether or not Steven Avery was guilty. On Dateline, the soft-spoken Kratz was busy promoting his soon-to-be-released book, Avery, which he said tells his side of the story. He still believes that both men are guilty and that Avery is a psychopath whose hatred of women led him to plan Halbach's murder long before it happened. He told Dateline, "I'm hoping this book will change the narrative."
Dateline also spoke to Kratz about the controversy that surrounded him two years after the case, when he was accused of sending sexually suggestive text messages to a domestic violence victim. Kratz said that his book covers the incident, which led to his resignation, and he admitted to struggling with prescription drugs and sex addiction in the past. The special concluded with a few shots of Kratz and his new girlfriend, along with Kratz's insistence that despite the new book, he is moving on with life.
Please let me know when Ken Kratz's birthday is so I can be sure not to send him a thoughtful gift.#MakingAMurderer— Dreamy Dean Strang (@FauxStrang) February 2, 2017
While the Dateline special shed new light on how the case developed, what some of the main players were thinking and how Avery's current case for a retrial is developing, it certainly did not answer many of the questions that linger 12 years after the murder. New evidence, Avery's new attorney said, will come to light soon and may help everyone make sense of what has taken place, in terms of the murder, the investigation and the initial trial. At the same time, Netflix confirmed in December that Making a Murderer Season 2 is in the works.
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