Making a Murderer Juror 'Comfortable with the Verdict We Reached': Report
A juror who voted to convict Steven Avery of murdering Teresa Halbach in the Netflix docu-series Making a Murderer stands by her vote.
Diane Free told the Associated Press, “I’m comfortable with the verdict we reached. The thing on Netflix was a movie, not a documentary.”
The 10-part Making a Murderer follows the twist-filled case of Avery, a Wisconsin who was released from prison after being exonerated for sexual assault but was then arrested again and convicted for the murder of Halbach, a young photographer.
The series suggests that investigators framed Avery for Halbach’s murder in retaliation for a $36 million lawsuit he filed against Manitowoc County and authorities.
Since the series debuted in December, jurors have mostly declined to speak to the media. According to the AP, Free, when asked to elaborate on her comments, said, “I have to ask, please don’t call me again,” and then hung up.
On Tuesday, the show’s filmmakers, Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, told the Today show that a juror had told them he believed Avery was not guilty.
“We were contacted by one of the jurors who sat through Steven Avery’s trial and shared what us their thoughts and they told us that they believe Steven Avery was not proven guilty, they believe that Steven was framed by law enforcement,” Ricciardi said.
She added, “They believe he deserves a new trial, and if he receives a new trial, in their opinion it should take place far away from Wisconsin.”
Demos added that the juror said some jurors voted to convict only because “they feared for their personal safety.”
Richard Mahler, who was ultimately dismissed from the Avery trial, told PEOPLE that early in the deliberations, the jurors took a vote: seven innocent, three guilty and two undecided.
Mahler said that two of the jurors who convicted Avery were related to Manitowoc County employees. Another source confirms to PEOPLE that one of those jurors, Carl Wardman, was volunteering with the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s department during the trial, and is the father of a Manitowoc County Sheriff’s deputy.
Mahler said that another juror is married to a woman who “works for the Manitowoc County Clerk’s Office.”
“I thought to myself, they shouldn’t have been on the jury. That was a conflict of interest,” Mahler said of the two jurors.
Mahler was ultimately excused from the trial. He said that Avery “seemed like he was honestly innocent.”
He said that after the trial, he has “had a hard time sleeping over it because of that feeling of innocence. I keep going over and over it. It’s still in the back of my head. What if I would’ve stayed.”
Recently, Mahler told Yahoo News Live anchor Bianna Golodryga that he has been “getting a lot threats on social media.”