From top: Dassey’s conviction was vacated in August; Avery’s lawyers are working to have his conviction overturned. Credit: Netflix

Here’s the good news fans of Making a Murderer have waited since last winter to hear: Yes, there will be a second season.

More than 20 million people were unable to pry themselves away from the ten-part documentary series, about the conviction of Steven Avery and his intellectually challenged 16-year-old nephew Brendan Dassey for the 2005 murder of freelance photographer Theresa Halbach. Now they’ll have the chance to revisit the wilds of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, where the lurid crime and dicey trial occurred.

The bad news: Netflix made the announcement in July, but isn’t yet telling us when the season will be released—production was under way over the summer, so maybe by next year. At the very least, it will definitely be before the decade it originally took filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos to complete the masterful first season.

Making a Murderer brought Avery and Dassey, along with their family, lawyers, and prosecutors, into intimate focus, unfolding with all the addictive suspense of a soap opera. Avery had previously spent 18 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit, and was suing the county and its officials for $36 million when he and Dassey were charged with Halbach’s killing. Investigators extracted a confession from the clueless teen, who said that at Avery’s bidding he had raped Halbach, cut her throat, and helped burn her body. Dassey’s conviction—contested in federal court by a team of lawyers from Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth and Milwaukee-based attorney Robert Dvorak—was vacated in August because of questions about the coercive nature of his prolonged interrogation.

Still, he’s not out of prison yet. The state of Wisconsin has filed an appeal, and Northwestern law professor Steven Drizin says it could take years for the ensuing legal action to be resolved.

Dassey’s lawyers are instead trying to get the now 26-year-old released on bond. Their proposal would have him living in a private home, with support from counselors and a chance to continue his education while his case makes its way through the courts. But the state has opposed that motion too. Drizin expects a decision on bond in the next month or so, and oral arguments on the appeal sometime after the first of the year.

Dassey’s story is having an impact, according to Drizin: “Brendan’s case has put a spotlight on the way that law enforcement officers are allowed to interrogate youthful suspects” who don’t understand their Miranda rights, he says. “We’ve been arguing for years that when police officers use these sophisticated tactics on young people they increase the risk of false confessions.”

“What did you think when you first saw [Avery]?” Dr. Phil asked.
“He looks like the sweetest little teddy bear,” Hartman said.

Meanwhile, Des Plaines-based lawyer and exoneration specialist Kathleen Zellner took on Avery’s case earlier this year, and has let it be known that she’s convinced of his innocence. Zellner filed a motion in August requesting up-to-date analysis of evidence used in the case, including newer techniques for blood and DNA testing. Avery claims, among other things, that traces of his blood found in Halbach’s car will prove to have come from an old sample that was already in the county’s possession before Halbach was killed.

Avery also remains incarcerated, but has managed to have an active, if unconsummated, love life since the series aired—he’s been through three engagements since the Holbach murder, and his most recent romance got its own spotlight this month as the subject of two taped installments of Dr. Phil. Avery was interviewed by phone, while his fiancee, Lynn Hartman (a legal secretary from Las Vegas), was on the set. Hartman wrote to Avery after watching the documentary, she explained, and confided how upset she was over a recent divorce. They bonded during months of correspondence and a prison visit.

“Was it love at first write?” Dr. Phil asked. “What did you think when you first saw him?”

“He looks like the sweetest little teddy bear,” Hartman said.

Avery vowed that this relationship made him realize that “I haven’t been in love my whole life.”

And maybe not now either. Two days before the taped sessions were due to run, Avery apparently announced through his previous fiancee, Sandra Greenman, that Hartman is “a golddigger” only in it “for money and publicity.”

Making the announcement on her Facebook page, Greenman wrote: “Steve called me two times tonight and wants everyone to know that Lynn and him are done.”   v