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Steven Avery's 'Making a Murderer' Lawyers on His Conviction: 'He Should Have Been Found Not Guilty'



Steven Avery’s lawyers Dean Strang and Jerry Buting at Calumet County Courthouse in 2007.

Credit: Patrick Ferron, Pool/AP Photo

Steven Avery‘s former lawyers Dean Strang and Jerry Buting told the Wall Street Journal this week that there was “no question” that the controversial Making a Murderer subject “should have been found not guilty” in the 2005 murder case of Teresa Halbach.

“Neither one of us was there the day that he met Teresa Halbach, so nobody other than God can say what happened,” Buting, 59, told the paper’s Law Blog. “But … there’s no question in my mind that he should have been found not guilty. I think he very likely is innocent of this crime and has now been subjected to another second tragedy of wrongful conviction.”

Strang, 55, added, “In my view, the people who claim certainty about his guilt are wrong to claim certainty, and the people who claim certainty about his innocence are wrong to claim certainty — and they’re missing the point, which is, what do we do when we’re left with uncertainty? The fact that this man consistently maintained his innocence and never said something suggesting his guilt is probably the most powerful indication to me … that he didn’t do it. People like Steven Avery, who come into the world poorly equipped to deal with police interrogation or media scrutiny or having their every telephone conversation recorded for 16 months — if they’re guilty, it comes out.”

In the docuseries, Strang and his co-counsel, Buting, argued that the local police of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, may have planted evidence to make Avery seem guilty in the death of photographer Teresa Halbach. The reason for the conspiracy, the legal team argued, was that Avery had sued the Manitowoc County sheriff’s department for millions over his wrongful conviction for rape back in 1985. Avery spent 18 years behind bars for the crime, which he didn’t commit.

The two, like Avery and other subjects in the series, are getting used to the spotlight. “I certainly never expected to be viewed as a hero for just doing our job and what we hope any criminal defense lawyer would do,” Buting told the paper. “Criminal defense attorneys have not been portrayed very favorably in Hollywood … If nothing else, this documentary maybe gave a better portrayal of what real criminal defense attorneys should be.”

The situation makes Strang uneasy. “It was very uncomfortable watching the film, and the aftermath is uncomfortable,” he revealed. “It’s uncomfortable. But for 30 years or more, each of us has been working in the courts, and I’ve noticed things I don’t like about our justice system. Now, for about seven and a half minutes, people are willing to listen to me talk about what I think the problems are in our criminal justice system.”

Additional key players featured in the series have opened up to the media since Netflix released all 10 episodes last month. Among those figures, then-sheriff Ken Petersen told Dr. Phil earlier this month that “police were fair” in handling Avery’s case. Meanwhile, Avery’s former fiancées, Jodi Stachowski and Sandy Greenman, offered up opposing opinions about the convict’s connection to Halbach’s murder. Stachowski told Nancy Grace he was guilty, while Greenman said to Dr. Phil that she believed he was innocent.

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