The Innocent Killer is the true and shocking story of Steven Avery who was wrongfully convicted of a vicious attack only to be arrested for murder 20 years later after being exonerated!
I haven’t seen the very popular Netflix series Making a Murderer but had seen it advertised quite a lot and it looked interesting, so when I can across this book, The Innocent Killer by Michael Griesbach, that details the case of Steven Avery I had to buy it. And what a read. It is a true crime story of a miscarriage of justice that had devastating consequences.
Steven Avery was 23 years when arrested for the violent sexual assault of a lone female jogger and subsequently sentenced to 32 years in prison. He always said he was innocent and had plenty of witnesses to prove he couldn’t have done it and after 18 years in prison he was released and exonerated. Apart from suing for wrongful conviction and the loss of 18 years, his wife and 5 children that should have been the end. But it wasn’t! 2 years after release he was arrested again, this time for a brutal murder.
On 29 July 1985 Penny Beersten was out for a run when she was viciously attacked and sexual assaulted. After describing her attacker, the local police had an idea who the attacker was and after Penny was shown some photos, where the police indicated their suspect was among them, she picked out Steven Avery. The police, for whatever reason, ignored other evidence that pointed to Avery being innocence and pointed to a suspect they were already aware of and pursued a conviction.
After spending 18 years in prison, new techniques in DNA testing that weren’t available at the time proved Avery’s innocence. Although all the witness statements and the victim’s description that didn’t quite fit Avery should have been enough without DNA evidence.
After being exonerated and filing a lawsuit for $36 million Avery was arrested again, this time for murder. This led to claims of him being fitted up again by the police. So, was he indeed innocent and the police involved in a conspiracy or had his time in prison turned him into a brutal murderer? Avery was no angel before the original crime and was always heading for prison time.
The Innocent Killer is a shocking true story of the aftermath of when a justice system goes so badly wrong. The police and prosecutors were so desperate to blame Avery they ignored evidence, even when they eventually knew (whether before or after conviction) Avery wasn’t their man. If they had investigated properly if would have saved an innocent man (at least of this crime) going to prison and ruining his life, it would have prevented other assaults on more women as the real suspect would probably have been caught (they had a good idea who he was) and who knows, Avery would never had committed murder, although I do believe he would have served time in prison for other crimes (he wasn’t exactly the brightest pencil in box, he named his twin sons William and Billy Jr!).
This is a well-written book and although written by the lawyer who worked on exonerating Avery is not over-filled with legal jargon and where is does feature legal terms, they are explained. It not only shows the failures of a justice system but also the impact on the law, the people involved including police personnel, prosecutors and of course the victims.
Steven Avery is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, but still maintains his innocence.
Definitely worth a read and I will now have to get around to watching the Netflix series.
RRP: £7.99 (Paperback) / £4.99 (Kindle)
Available to buy from Amazon here.