Saturday, 16 April 2016

Review: The Innocent Killer by Michael Griesbach

Title: The Innocent Killer
Author: Michael Griesbach
Publisher: Windmill Books
Pages: 304
Genres: Narrative Non-Fiction, True Crime

The Innocent Killer
The story of one of America's most notorious wrongful convictions, that of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who spent eighteen years in prison for a crime he did not commit and now the subject of the hit series Making a Murderer. But two years after he was exonerated of that crime and poised to reap millions in his wrongful conviction lawsuit, Steven Avery was arrested for the exceptionally brutal murder of Teresa Halbach, a freelance photographer who had gone missing several days earlier. The “Innocent Man” had turned into a cold blooded killer. Or had he? This is narrative non-fiction at its finest and the perfect companion read for fans of Making a Murderer.
I have mixed feelings about this book. Firstly, if you are reading this review and you have never heard of the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer or Steven Avery then be warned, I am probably going to go into some details that could be classed as spoilers.

I like millions of others was riveted by Making a Murderer. However, I was dismayed to discover upon further research that a lot of evidence that was present in the Teresa Halbach trial was omitted from the documentary series, which kind of made me annoyed. I like to have all the information available before casting judgement. I was interested to read The Innocent Killer because I was hoping for an unbiased point of view of the whole thing.

Two thirds of this book concentrates on Avery's 1985 conviction and then (eighteen years later), the exoneration of the rape of Penny Beernsten. Griesbach's presentation of the facts and the subsequent police blunders was truly fascinating and gave much more insight into that case compared to what was explored by Making a Murderer. Sadly the last third of the book focusing on Teresa Halbach's murder in 2005 is where the narrative fell apart. Griesbach is unashamedly biased and wholeheartedly believes that Avery is guilty, without any clear explanation as to why. Key evidence presented by the defence was glossed over in this book and the whole trial was summed up in around sixty-five pages. That in itself is an injustice to the complicated nature of the whole case. It's a shame The Innocent Killer did not provide enough of an unbiased view like I had hoped.

Regardless, it was intriguing to read about a different point of view of Avery's conviction and there are snippets of information that I had never heard or read about before so I think it is a worthwhile read for those interested in Steven Avery's case.

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