Guilt and Innocence

I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned. I couldn’t get the story out of my mind. Did an innocent man go to jail a second time?

Last week I watched “Making a Murderer,” a Netflix documentary about Steven Avery, a man wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. After eighteen years in prison, he was exonerated, but shortly thereafter, he was charged with the murder of Teresa Halbach, a 25-year old photographer, last seen on Avery’s property the day of her disappearance. Avery was found guilty and sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole.

At that same time I watched ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary, “Fantastic Lies,” regarding the Duke men’s lacrosse team and the 2006 party scandal. After three players were accused of rape, public outcry was immediate and pointed. The team’s season was cancelled, the coach forced to resign. Players were vilified. Race and socioeconomic issues grabbed headlines. And then the charges were dropped. After learning DNA test results were falsely reported and witnesses intimated, the men were cleared. Ten years later, I didn’t remember much of the story, but I did remember thinking, Hah! Boys behaving badly.

The rush to judgment. I was incensed watching the Avery story, wondering if law enforcement officials and the DA’s office had rushed to judgement. I was stunned remembering I’d done the same thing after first hearing about the lacrosse incident.

We now know the lacrosse players didn’t do it. Did Steven Avery? I don’t know, nor does anyone at this point. I just know I can’t stop thinking about it. I just know that I failed in the presumption of innocence when first hearing about the Duke situation; I also know I was making presumptions before any of us have seen the final episode in the Avery story. I also know that Jesus made many pointed statements on judgment.

And I’ve been found guilty of them all.

Netflix: Making a Murderer