WASHINGTON — Ever since the recent Netflix docu-series ‘Making a Murderer’ hit the streaming service, there have been numerous petitions and calls to have the subject of the series, Steven Avery, freed from prison.
Avery was convicted of the murder of Teresa Halbach, in what many viewers feel was a case filled with questionable and controversial tactics by law enforcement officials and the court system. He is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, was also convicted, and he is up for early release in several decades.
At least one petition was submitted to the White House, hoping for a full Presidential pardon. It has nearly 130,000 signatures as of this posting. Below is the verbatim of that petition:
The White House provided an official response, saying that since the Avery and Dassey convictions were matters of the state, the President is unable to act:
Under the Constitution, only federal criminal convictions, such as those adjudicated in the United States District Courts, may be pardoned by the President. In addition, the President’s pardon power extends to convictions adjudicated in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and military court-martial proceedings. However, the President cannot pardon a state criminal offense.
Since Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are both state prisoners, the President cannot pardon them. A pardon in this case would need to be issued at the state level by the appropriate authorities.
To read the full White House response, click here. ‘Making a Murderer’ has become a huge hit for Netflix, and spurred new interest in the Halbach case, with prosecutors, former jurors, and others appearing on national news outlets in recent days.