Belfast Telegraph

Making a Murderer Part 2: Here's what to expect from Netflix true crime series

Part 2 lands on Netflix on October 19

Making a Murderer documents the story of Steven Avery. Above: Avery's mugshot, taken after his arrest in 1985
Making a Murderer documents the story of Steven Avery. Above: Avery's mugshot, taken after his arrest in 1985

By Georgia Humphries

Making A Murderer Part Two takes us back to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, to follow the post-conviction process of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey.

 Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi - the pair behind the huge Netflix hit - tell us more.

It's been almost three years since the world became obsessed with the stories of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey.

Yep, we're talking about the subjects of Netflix's Making A Murderer, which became an instant hit after its launch in December 2015.

Filmed over a 10-year period, Part One of the US thriller-documentary showed how Avery, a DNA exoneree, was in the midst of exposing police corruption when he became a prime suspect in the murder of 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach.

At the end of the first 10 episodes, Avery was sentenced to life in prison, along with his nephew Dassey, who has learning difficulties and, at the age of just 16, confessed to helping his uncle kill Halbach. But both remained hopeful about the possibility of their eventual release.

So, what can we expect from Making A Murderer Part Two? Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi, the American filmmakers behind the show, have all the details.

Poignant return

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Making A Murderer: Part 2. Pictured: (L-R) Moira Demos, Laura Ricciardi. See PA Feature SHOWBIZ TV Making A Murderer. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Netflix/Austin Hargrave.
 

This time round, the twists and turns follow the post-conviction process of both Avery and Dassey.

"We're documenting and showing the experience of someone who's convicted, serving life, and challenging their sentence," as Demos puts it.

It's also clear from the first episode, she adds, that Manitowoc is not the same world it was in Part One, because of the show's enormous global success.

"We understood that the response to Part One was the context within which Part Two was going to take place, and felt like we had to put that in there, otherwise nothing would make sense," she follows.

We meet Kathleen Zellner

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Making A Murderer: Part 2. Pictured: Kathleen Zellner. PA Photo/Netflix.
 

There are major new characters involved - including Chicago-based lawyer Kathleen Zellner, who specialises in wrongful convictions, and took on Avery's case shortly after Part One aired, vowing to prove his innocence.

"We've never witnessed anybody working in the way that she does: her strategy, her methodology, her confidence, her vision," notes Ricciardi passionately.

"It's ultimately Steven's decision whether or not his attorney can let people like us in, so we're really grateful that they chose to let us in, and we understand part of the reason why.

"They value transparency, and as you watch some of the episodes it becomes clear that Kathleen, at the post-conviction stage, what's paramount to her is that she's representing someone that she believes to be innocent.

"She doesn't want to use her abilities, her experience, to free someone who she believes actually committed the crime, or knows committed the crime."

There are still unanswered questions

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Making A Murderer: Part 2. Pictured: (L-R) Dolores Avery, Kathleen Zellner. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Netflix.
 

We see Zellner assemble a host of world-class experts who employ the latest scientific methods to raise questions about the forensic evidence used to convict Avery in the 2007 case - including the discovery of his sweat DNA on the hood latch of Halbach's car.

"What I understood Kathleen's DNA consultant to be saying is that there is no such thing as sweat DNA," says Ricciardi.

"I think the closest thing there would be is DNA that's left behind from someone touching an object."

An experiment Zellner and her team carry out involves trying to quantify the amount of DNA left behind when three people touch the same bonnet latch five times each, and comparing it to the amount of DNA found on Halbach's car.

Explaining the experiment further, Ricciardi continues: "The argument of Kathleen and her experts is that there's a great disparity - they said at one point in the filing that Steven would've had to have touched the hood latch like 90 times in order to yield the amount of DNA that the state's expert claimed to have retrieved from the hood latch."

We see new perspectives

PANews BT_P-87d2d19c-0019-4988-bdff-e572a230e511_I1.jpg
Teresa Halbach was murdered in 2005, with Brendan Dassey sentenced to life in prison in 2007 after he told detectives he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape and kill her. (Tom Pearce via AP)

A huge number of people have been involved in Making A Murderer, as Ricciardi and Demos wanted to include a variety of those connected to and affected by the story.

But it was notable the family of victim Halbach were absent from the first series.

"We asked the Halbachs if they wanted to directly participate, if they wanted to sit down with us, and they declined both for Part One and Part Two," says Ricciardi.

She reasons we still heard their point of view though through Mike Halbach, Halbach's brother who was a self-appointed spokesman for the family and gave a number of press conferences.

And this series, they've tried to find creative ways to include the Halbachs.

"We had licensed footage from a local media outlet and they had some archival footage where they filmed with Mrs [Karen] Halbach in her kitchen, where it was at a point were Teresa was missing and [she] was very upset," adds Ricciardi.

We will also see one of Halbach's college friends give a "very thoughtful" interview.

The criminal justice system is explored further

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Making A Murderer: Part 2. Pictured: (L-R) Scott Tadych, Brendan Dassey, Barb Tadych. PA Photo/Netflix
 

Dassey's post-conviction lawyers, Laura Nirider and Steve Drizin, are seeking to overturn their client's conviction in the federal courts by arguing that Dassey's confession, the key element of the prosecution's case against him, was coerced.

Another interesting element of Part Two is that there was an opportunity for parties who were not involved in the litigation to file what is called a friend of the court brief.

"They can say, 'We know a lot about this particular field, and we want to try and help educate the court or the judges who are going to hear the case'," Ricciardi explains.

In Dassey's case, members of law enforcement actually came out in favour of the court taking his case, she adds.

"They said, 'There have been developments through social science, research, and there is such a thing as proven false confessions and we think it's important that you take a look at this and consider that'."

It's bound to be emotional

Anyone who's seen Part One will know this is a hard-hitting show; though one that's very easy to binge-watch.

The question is, what's it been like spending time with the defendants' families throughout the filming process?

"Brendan's lawyer, Laura Nirider, talks about it quite profoundly - how you're so used to not having hope when you're fighting in this system, and how it's sort of a double-edged system when you finally do have hope, and how painful that can be if those get dashed again," suggests Demos.

"I think it was a really difficult time for the family. But again, we're so grateful that the Avery and the Dassey family let us in on some of their darkest times, which are some of the hardest moments to share.

"The rest of us can learn a lot from those experiences."

Making A Murderer will be released on Netflix Friday October 19.

PA

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