Steven Avery Case: $36 Million?

The Manitowoc County of Wisconsin is a town I can honestly say I will never go anywhere near. I do not intend to ever even fly over this town. Manitowoc County is that type of small town I would watch on the old popular hit television series The Twilight Zone. In The Twilight Zone you would arrive in a small town that appeared safe, quiet, and welcoming, at first. Then, all of a sudden, weird things would start to happen such as a person entering a room twice as if the scene was rewound. You would ask the person next to you if they witnessed what you just saw and they would look at you like you are crazy. Then more and more bizarre occurrences would happen one after the other like a man would walk-by with an elephant tusk growing from his face and no one would think it was crazy but you. You try to scream to get someone to pay attention to the truth and believe you, but they are all in on some secret, closing in on you while you try to escape the town. No matter how many roads you take to get out of the small town, you wind up back where you started with tumble weeds blowing by in the night, unable to get out. Manitowoc County is the true to life Twilight Zone.


Growing up in a small town, I always thought it was great to be in a place where everybody knows everybody. It is only a plus when everyone likes and accepts you, however. If the town views you as an outcast or those small town rumors proceed you before you even enter the room, it can get dangerous. In the case of Steven Avery, living in a small town turned out to be a nightmare he is still fighting to get out of. Avery was wrongfully imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Even though he had a solid alibi that was proven by stamped store receipts and eye witnesses who reported to the police Avery’s whereabouts on the night in question, the Wanitowoc police disregarded the evidence as if it never existed. In 1985 Avery served 18 years in prison for the rape of a Wanitowoc prominent figure Penny Beernsten. Avery was released after advance DNA testing was used to determine if he was the rapist. Based on one strand of hair from the victim’s body, Avery was found innocent after losing 18 years of his life with his family. Even though there was a tip years prior to his release pointing to the rapist, the Wanitowoc police did not pursue an investigation on the guilty rapist. Bizarre.


Avery and his attorney filed a lawsuit against Wanitowoc County for $36 million. Unable to pay $36 million to Avery, two years after his release from prison, the Wanitowoc County police arrived at his door with a search warrant. Avery, with nothing to hide, cooperated with the police and allowed them on his property for eight days straight conducting an illegal search. The police produced evidence that Avery had murdered Teresa Halbach. Avery is repeatedly telling everyone around him that he is being framed because of the $36 million. The police interrogated Avery, but he would not break from the truth. He did not kill Halbach. The police went so far as to coax Avery’s mentally disabled nephew Brendan Dassey into confessing to helping Avery rape and kill Halbach. Avery was sentenced to life without parole. His innocent nephew Dassey was sentenced to 40 years. Living in an absolute nightmare, Avery refuses to give up. When the documentary of his journey was released to the public in Making A Murderer, millions of viewers have been set on fire to get him released from prison. The millions who believe Avery’s innocence have watched the corrupt attorneys, judges, and police officers tying him up with no way out. Avery was willing to drop the $36 million lawsuit for his freedom. The court system was relieved when he decided to walk away from the money, but they did not grant him his freedom. They settled with him for a mere $400,000 that Avery had to use for his legal fees in his trial.


No one would dream of changing places with Avery in a million years. Trapped in The Twilight Zone with Andy Griffith and Opie whistling down a dirt road carrying their fishing poles over the shoulders, Avery is the normal one screaming to be heard but everyone who can set him free is standing around with elephant tusks growing from their face laughing at him and toasting champagne in his honor. Frightening, bizarre, and a nightmare all rolled into one, Avery is really living in it and does not have the luxury to leave, not even for $36 million.