Stars of Netflix series ‘Making a Murder’ visit Manchester

  • Cast from the popular Netflix series gave an insight into the American legal system during talk at Manchester's Royal Northern College of Music

It was the Netflix series that had us all captivated.

So it doesn’t come as a surprise that Wisconsin defence attorneys Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, the stars of the gripping Netflix series ‘Making a Murder’, managed to sell out the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, as part of their national tour.  The duo with their newfound heart-throb status sat down with Dr Hannah Quirk, a Senior Lecturer in Crime and Justice, to give an insight into the American legal system.

Buting and Strang are famously known for defending Steven Avery in the highest profile case that Wisconsin has ever seen, with Strang explaining that “it was one of the earliest cases to be streamed live”. Yet, it wasn’t until December of last year that the ten-part series turned into a worldwide phenomenon, with every viewer casting their judgment on Avery’s guilt.

The popularity of the series has seen the commission of a season two, as many have been left questioning his guilt, police corruption, the meaning of justice and the American legal system. With more questions left to be answered, the legal duo who have worked together for ten years embarked on the tour with Buting saying that “wrongful convictions happen all over the world and people think that whether Avery is guilty or not, this is not what a criminal justice system should look like”.

Whilst Avery is currently serving his life sentence for the murder of young photographer Teresa Halbach, Brendan Dassey’s (Avery’s nephew) conviction for her murder was overturned in August of this year. However Dassey could only be released from prison if Wisconsin prosecutors’ appealed against the conviction being overturned a 90 day period, Butting says that the prosecutors did appeal meaning that Dassey cannot be released until the appeal has been heard.

A question from a member of the audience gave us a further insight into the racism still prevalent throughout America, Strang raised the point that every person involved in the investigation and trial was white and that he does wonder whether the case would’ve been as widespread if Avery was black.   

Making a murderer cast give talk in Manchester
Cast from the hit series

Another important point raised was the effect that the media had on the jury, with the duo both believing that the media may have affected the jury’s judgement before the trial, which is considered an illegal offence in the UK.

When asked about what reforms they would each like to see in the US justice system, Buting was quick to point out the interrogation method, which the American police use and have used since the 1950s, he highlighted that “they need to have a less confrontational approach, as it leads to people who are mentally challenged like Brendan, to falsely confess”.

The conversation left you questioning the reliability of the US justice system and would the verdict have been different if the case was heard in the UK.

Strang and Buting still believe that Avery is innocent, as Buting said: “Everything was going right in Avery’s life for once, his lawsuit for $38 million for being wrongly accused, was going well”.

As for prosecutor Ken Kratz, the pair are not sure what he is up to nowadays but they predict that they will probably be passing each other soon.