On Friday, “Dateline NBC” is giving “Making a Murderer” fans another detailed look inside the Steven Avery/Brendan Dassey case, and for the first time, co-lead investigator Tom Fassbender is speaking out about allegations he forced Dassey into a confession.
Avery and Dassey were convicted of the 2005 murder of Wisconsin photographer Teresa Halbach in 2007. The trial and subsequent conviction were chronicled in the Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer,” which had the country split on whether the two were innocent or guilty, especially after the documentary featured a questionable interrogation of Dassey that caused many to allege that prosecutors, including Fassbender, forced Dassey into a confession of killing Halbach.
In the episode, “Dateline NBC” correspondent Andrea Canning speaks to Fassbender, a man who has stayed mum since the documentary debuted in 2015. Canning also spoke to Ken Kratz, a prosecutor in the case who believed Avery killed Halbach and claims he has significant proof to support his beliefs.
“Tom Fassbender told us he wants people to hear the truth,” Canning told TheWrap. “He spoke with us after a lot of discussion back and forth over several months. He’s very aware of the vitriol against him, and in this episode he lays out why he handled the Avery investigation the way he did. He also addresses the questions many have raised about Brendan Dassey’s interrogation, and discusses the interviewing techniques he and his partner used which have come under fire.”
And about Kratz, she added, “For the first time with us he really lays out a theory about what he believes was Steven Avery’s motive.”
The “Dateline” episode titled “Return to Manitowoc County: The State of Wisconsin vs. Steven A. Avery” also features rarely seen interrogation videos and interviews with people such as Avery’s ex-fiancee Sandy Greenman, Halbach’s friend Kim Peterson, Avery’s former defense attorney Jerry Buting and Dassey’s current lawyers Laura Nirider and Steven Drizin. Avery’s current lawyer who has made promising claims about the case, Kathleen Zellner, will also be featured in the episode.
“This episode takes a fresh look at the case,” Canning said. “Where are Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey now in terms of their quest for freedom? We have the latest from Avery’s attorney, Kathleen Zellner, and where things stand with her new forensic testing of the blood evidence. We also talk to Dassey’s attorneys, who explain the case they made that got his conviction overturned last year.”
One of the red flags raised by documentarians Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos was the fact that authorities found Halbach’s car keys — an incriminating piece of evidence against Avery in the trial — after multiple searches of Avery’s trailer. And the search was conducted by law enforcement officers involved in Avery’s lawsuit against the county for his wrongful imprisonment in a rape case, for which he was exonerated in 2003.
“In our interview Tom Fassbender explains why the deputies were allowed to be part of the search,” Canning added. When asked whether he had a vendetta against Avery, Fassbender tells Canning, “Absolutely not. I didn’t know Steven Avery. I didn’t know his family. Never been there.”
Previously, “Dateline” did a special on the case titled, “The State of Wisconsin vs. Steven A. Avery.” The special included a rare 2005 interview with Penny Beerntsen, the victim of the sexual assault case for which Avery was wrongfully convicted.
“Return to Manitowoc County: The State of Wisconsin vs. Steven A. Avery” airs Friday at 10 p.m. ET/PT, 9 p.m. CT on NBC.
Watch an exclusive clip from the “Dateline” special above.
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