“Dateline” has been airing promotional announcements saying “insiders will speak out for the first time” about the case that sent Manitowoc County resident Steven Avery and his teenage nephew Brendan Dassey to prison for the 2005 murder of photographer Teresa Halbach.
Those insiders include former Calumet County prosecutor Kenneth Kratz, who convinced separate juries to convict Avery and Dassey of Halbach’s murder.
The 15-second promo also hints that Jerome Buting — one of two attorneys who defended Avery at trial — and Thomas Fassbender, a now-retired Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation detective, may have been interviewed. NBC, the network home of the show, did not return a call Monday seeking comment.
The show is slated to air just days after a hearing Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, where attorneys for Dassey and the Wisconsin Department of Justice will argue Dassey’s conviction.
Magistrate Judge William Duffin in November ordered Dassey released from prison while his appeal is pending, but state Attorney General Brad Schimel convinced an appeals court to block the release. Duffin ruled that Dassey’s constitutional rights were violated, and that the prosecution’s investigators made false promises to Dassey during multiple interrogations of the then 16-year-old. The judge’s 91-page ruling was highly critical of investigators, Dassey’s pretrial attorney and the state courts.
A source with knowledge about the upcoming “Dateline” episode said the producers seemed interested in evidence, not presented at trial, that they believe would have helped prosecutors build an even stronger case against Avery.
The trial judge prevented Kratz from introducing nine elements of evidence of “other acts” by Avery, including alleged acts of violence against his former fiancee and his niece, as well as a claim he allegedly made to another prison inmate that implied he hated women. (No mention of Kratz’s sexting though?)
The news prompted buzz on social media and among online communities whose members have followed the case.
“I’m interested to see what Fassbender has to say. I think it his first time speaking out about the case,” a user named “jordynpuppy” wrote on Reddit’s “TickTockManitowoc” thread. “Although he will most likely will echo what others have said about Avery being convicted by a jury of his peers and how hard it is for the Halbach family to have this all being brought up again … ’cause what can they say we have all seen the confession, and the fact they bullied a kid into prison. Kratz will be the same old pulling stuff out of thin air to fit his narrative.”
“Dateline,” hosted by Lester Holt, airs at 9 p.m. Fridays on WGBA (Channel 26) in Green Bay and the Fox Valley. WGBA airs on Channel 13 on Time Warner-Spectrum cable in Green Bay.
Buting’s book, “Illusion of Justice: Inside Making a Murderer and America’s Broken Justice System,” draws from the Avery defense and from other cases. Amazon.com says the book, due for release on Feb. 28, “explains the flaws in America’s criminal justice system and lays out a provocative, persuasive blueprint for reform.”
Edited to remove Kratz!