(WRIC/ABC) — The Obama administration will have to address the incarceration of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin native at the center of the hit Netflix series, “Making a Murderer.”
A petition asking the president to pardon Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey has reached 100,000 signatures, which is the minimum requirement for the White House to issue a response.
In 2007, Avery — who had previously served 18 years behind bars for a sexual assault that he didn’t commit — and Dassey were convicted of murdering photographer Teresa Halbach at Avery’s home in Wisconsin. Both were sentenced to life in prison. Though Avery isn’t eligible for parole, Dassey will be in 2048.
Avery’s conviction was upheld on appeal.
“Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey should be given a full pardon by President Obama for their wrongful conviction in the connection to the murder of Teresa Halbach. Based on the evidence in the Netflix documentary series ‘Making a Murderer,’ the justice system embarrassingly failed both men, completely ruining their entire lives,” the petition reads.
However, it’s not in President Obama’s purview to pardon Avery and Dassey. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s website, the president can only pardon federal crime convictions. Avery and Dassey were convicted at the state level.
“If you are seeking clemency for a state criminal conviction… you should contact the Governor or other appropriate authorities of the state where you reside or where the conviction occurred (such as the state board of pardons and paroles) to determine whether any relief is available to you under state law,” the DOJ website reads.
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker does not seem willing to pardon the men.
“Those who feel they have been wrongly convicted can seek to have their convictions overturned by a higher court,” his press secretary Laurel Patrick told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a statement Tuesday.
Avery reportedly appealed, but the verdict was upheld in 2011, while a local ABC affiliate in Wisconsin reported that Dassey’s request for a new trial was rejected in 2013.
Ken Kratz, the former Wisconsin prosecutor who handled the Halbach murder case, said the show is biased and left out several details from the murder trial.
Laura Ricciardi, the show’s co-writer/director, said “it was a nearly six-week-long trial, and it would just be impossible for us to include all of the less significant evidence,” according to The Wrap.