The creators of the popular Netflix documentary series "Making a Murderer" said that a juror from Steven Avery's trial reached out to them with an important revelation.
The two filmmakers, Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, said on NBC's "Today" Tuesday that the juror believes Avery, who was convicted of murdering a 25-year-old woman in 2005, was not proven guilty in his trial. The juror, who voted to convict Avery, only did so out of fear for his/her personal safety, Demos said.
"(The juror believed) Steven was framed by law enforcement and that he deserves a new trial, and if he receives a new trial, in their opinion it should take place far away from Wisconsin," Ricciardi said.
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"Making a Murderer" depicts the story of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault and imprisoned for 18 years before DNA evidence exonerated him in 2003. Avery went on to sue Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, the former district attorney and county sheriff for $36 million. Soon after county officials were deposed in that lawsuit, Avery was accused of murder in the killing of Teresa Halbach, a 25-year-old photographer.
Avery ultimately was convicted of murder and of illegally possessing a firearm, but was found not guilty of mutilating a corpse.
The series was filmed over 10 years by Ricciardi and Demos, two Columbia film school graduates, and has garnered powerful reactions from viewers.
"The juror contacted us directly ... and went on to describe the jurors ultimately trading votes in the jury room and explicitly discussing, 'If you vote guilty on this count, I will vote not guilty on this count,'" Ricciardi said.
The juror told the filmmakers that they hoped a split verdict would send a message to the appellate courts to give Avery a new trial.
"That was sort of their plan but obviously it didn’t work out that way," Ricciardi said.
“This juror said that they have been open about what they told us and that if someone were to ask they would admit to being a source,” Ricciardi said.
The two filmmakers have not yet contacted other jurors to independently verify this revelation, they said. NBC News has not independently verified this claim with any jurors.
A Change.org petition requesting pardons for Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, who was also convicted in Halbach's murder, has over 200,000 signatures. A petition on Whitehouse.gov received more than 58,000. Should the White House petition receive 100,000 signatures by January 16, the White House has to respond publicly.
The prosecutor in Avery's case, Ken Kratz, has said that the documentary left out important evidence, and told The New York Times that the filmmakers had an "agenda" to stoke public outrage.
Demos and Ricciardi have denied the accusation and told "Today" they were pleased with the reaction to their show.
“We made this series to start a dialogue and the fact that so many people are talking is just thrilling,” Demos said. She hopes the dialogue will encourage those with information to come forward.