Saturday, January 30, 2016

Branded Man?

Unless you've been living under a rock--or you never watch TV or pick up a newspaper or magazine--you've probably heard the name Steven Avery a lot recently. I did, but I didn't pay too much attention to it until my daughter Kelli convinced me to watch all ten episodes of Making a Murderer, a documentary currently on Netflix. Wow! What a story!

Avery is the Wisconsin man who, despite massive alibi evidence, was convicted of sexual assault in 1985. He served 18 years in prison before DNA testing proved his innocence. Two years after his release, he was arrested again, charged with the murder of a 25-year-old female photographer. Avery was tried and convicted of that murder and sits in prison today, as does the slow-witted, then-teenaged nephew, Brendan Dassey, who testified against him in a statement, then recanted that testimony in court.

If you have believed, as I always have, that if you should ever be questioned by the police, all you have to do is tell the truth and they will be reasonable, the recorded interrogation of young Brendan will scare the pants off you.

It seems that almost everyone who has watched this documentary has an opinion about Steven Avery's guilt or innocence. I don't, actually. Avery has done some despicable things (he once threw a kitten onto a fire), so I do have an opinion about his character, and it's conceivable to me that he might be capable of murder. It's possible he committed this one. The problem is, whether he did or not, he was framed for it. On that basis alone, he deserves a new trial.

As for Brendan, I think his only crime was being young and stupid and using his big imagination to try to give the cops the answers they so clearly wanted.

If you've been following this case, I'd love to know what you think about it. And if you're unfamiliar with it, you might want to delve into it and find out how seriously things can go wrong when people in power have pre-conceived ideas and lofty personal goals.

The song is "Branded Man" by Merle Haggard.
Click here to read the lyrics.
Thanks for Allen0955 for posting this video on YouTube.


  1. I am not sure about S. A. but I am sure the death did not occur as the prosecutors said it did. Not in that trailer and not in that garage! That poor boy Brendan. I do hope someone helps him. His part of that story was almost sickening! Poor child! Larry and I watched all of it too!

    1. Betty, I wish we could sit down at your kitchen table or mine and discuss the details of this case. Last night I watched a 48 Hours episode about another man, Ryan Ferguson, who was wrongfully convicted. There were several similarities to the Avery case: a witness who made up testimony, undisclosed facts leaked (planted in suspect's brain) by police officers during interrogation, failure of law enforcement to look for other suspects after they focused on Ferguson, etc. Scary stuff.

    2. Velvet, I, too, would love to discuss SA. I watched all episodes. I had/have a lot of questions. Unfortunately, I'm not sure there are authentic true answers that can be proven. Yes, this doc certainly did scare me and I worked for law enforcement for 25 years!

    3. Val, what a treat it is to hear from you after all this time! I've missed you and hope you'll start blogging again. As for the Avery case, I worked with the Public Defenders' Office for years, so I imagine you and I could discuss this case from a few different points of view.


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