Since real-crime documentary Making a Murderer launched on Netflix before Christmas, it’s become something of a phenomenon. Everyone, from A-list celebrities to that girl you went to school with, is watching it, talking about it and tweeting about it.
But viewer’s opinions haven’t stayed consigned to social media. The documentary inspired a massive online campaign to see protagonist Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey released and/or pardoned by President Obama. Hundreds of thousands of people have signed petitions on Change.org and the official White House website calling for Avery’s immediate exoneration.
Now The White House has responded, but it’s not good news for campaigners.
The statement from the government reveals that President Obama “cannot pardon” the men, adding: “A pardon in this case would need to be issued at the state level by the appropriate authorities.”
“Thank you for signing a We the People petition on the Teresa Halbach murder case, currently featured on the Making a Murderer documentary series,” reads the response. “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.”
Filmed over a 10-year period, Making a Murderer follows Steven Avery, a DNA exoneree who, while in the midst of exposing corruption in local law enforcement, finds himself the prime suspect in a new murder case.