Criminal Justice

'Making a Murderer' defense lawyers hope hit Netflix series will lead to new evidence in murder case

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In November, Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer Jerome Buting had eight Twitter followers. As of January, that number has risen to 25,000—likely because of the recently released Netflix series Making a Murderer, which is based on one of the Brookfield lawyer’s cases.

Dean Strang, another defense lawyer involved in Steven Avery’s murder defense, has been described as an unlikely sex symbol by the Guardian. And there’s a Buzzfeed quiz: “Do You Belong with Dean Strang or Jerry Buting?”

“It’s weird. It’s disorienting,” Strang told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Avery was wrongfully convicted of rape, and spent 18 years in prison before he was exonerated through DNA testing, according to the Innocence Project. Shortly after Avery’s 2003 release, he was charged and convicted of murdering Teresa Halbach, a photographer, and Avery is now serving a life sentence.

Avery had a wrongful conviction case pending against Manitowoc County at the time of Halbach’s disappearance, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Strang and Buting argued that sheriff’s deputies were motivated to plant evidence against him, according to the article. Brendan Dassey, Avery’s nephew, was separately convicted of helping him assault, kill and mutilate Halbach.

Buting told the paper the documentary film crew shooting Avery’s story were at work months before he and Strang joined the case. He said he was leery at first but “had never seen anything that really explained what it was like to prepare for and try a serious criminal case like this,” Buting said. “We thought it would be a good public education opportunity. I also didn’t know whether Dean and I would come out looking bad or good. We just decided it was worth the chance to try and help them do a project that would be unique.”

Strang hopes that the series’ popularity will lead to new evidence in the case.

“I remain really haunted by deep doubts that he’s guilty,” he told the paper. “I really do fear that here is an innocent man in prison wrongly the second time.”

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