“If he’d like to put together a documentary and try to discredit us in some way, he’s welcome to do that,” Laura Ricciardi tells TheWrap
Filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi have dismissed accusations by former Wisconsin state prosecutor Ken Kratz that their Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer” is biased.
“This is coming from a man who argued in closing arguments that reasonable doubts are for innocent people,” said Ricciardi, who with Demos spoke to TheWrap Thursday. She added, “We stand by the project we did.”
Demos and Ricciardi’s 10-part documentary explores the case of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who was imprisoned for sexual assault, exonerated on DNA evidence and released — only to be charged and convicted for the murder of a young woman. Kratz successful prosecuted Avery for the rape and murder of photographer Teresa Halbach, the crime for which Avery is now imprisoned.
Kratz, who declined multiple requests to be interviewed for “Making a Murderer,” claimed this week that Demos and Ricciardi intentionally left crucial evidence out of their docu-series and portrayed him unfairly.
Demos and Ricciardi told TheWrap that they went to great lengths to present Kratz and his case against Avery accurately.
Ken Kratz said that you intentionally left out pieces of evidence that support Steven Avery’s conviction for the rape and murder of Teresa Halbach. Did you intentionally exclude any evidence?
Moira Demos: I guess I would ask Kratz what he would trade it for. We tried to choose what we thought was Kratz’s strongest evidence pointing toward Steven’s guilt, the things he talked about at his press conferences, the things that were really damning toward Steven. That’s what we put in. The things I’ve heard listed as things we’ve left out seem much less convincing of guilt than Teresa’s DNA on a bullet or her remains in his backyard.
Laura Ricciardi: To state this another way, I’d say that all of the most significant evidence of the state is in the series. It was a nearly six-week-long trial, and it would just be impossible for us to include all of the less significant evidence.
So when Kratz says that the DNA recovered from Avery’s car couldn’t have been planted or that the bullet had to have been fired while Avery had the gun, what do you say to that?
Ricciardi: Without getting into trying to refute specific pieces of evidence, I would say that our role here was as documentarians. We were not advocates. We’re not part of an adversarial system. We were documenting this case as it was unfolding.
Kratz told People magazine, “You don’t want to muddy up a perfectly good conspiracy movie with what actually happened.” He’s obviously disparaging your work. How do you respond?
Ricciardi: This is coming from a man who argued in closing arguments that reasonable doubts are for innocent people. This is coming from a man who said, “So what if the key was planted?” This is coming from a man who was forced out of office for admittedly sending sexually suggestive text messages to a domestic-violence victim whose case he was prosecuting. We are confident. We stand by the project we did. It is thorough. It is accurate. It is fair. That is why it took us 10 years to produce it.
As I’ve said before, Ken Kratz is entitled to his own opinion, but he’s not entitled to his own facts. If he’d like to put together a documentary and try to discredit us in some way, he’s welcome to do that. We’re not going to be pulled into re-litigating the Halbach case with him.
He said that it was unfair for the film to use his sexting to “characterize me as morally unfit.” Do you think it’s fair to talk about the fact that he was run out of office and the reason why?
Demos: Kratz appears in the series. Those were his actions, his words. I think what’s interesting is that he’s not arguing to the public now that he was depicted in a way that was inaccurate. If he doesn’t like the way that he was depicted in the series, then he shouldn’t have behaved in that way and he shouldn’t have said those things.
How many times did you try to interview Kratz?
Demos: I think over the course of nine years we reached out to him three times.
Why do you think that he’s so eager to talk now when he refused to be interviewed by you for nine years?
Demos: I think that’s a question for him. He could have had more of a voice in this project. Laura’s letter inviting Kratz to be part of the documentary is part of the case file. It clearly lays out our intentions going into making the series, what we thought Kratz would add if he was willing to do a sit-down interview with us. It was his choice not to. Nonetheless, we have footage of him in press conferences, arguing in court. We did our best to represent his point of view that Steven was a dangerous criminal who needed to be taken off the street.
Ricciardi: I think Kratz is clearly trying to rehabilitate himself in the public eye. This is a man who was disgraced. He was forced out of office. He reportedly lost his job, his home, his marriage. He at one point, I believe, filed for bankruptcy. He was named as a defendant in a federal lawsuit brought by one of the victims. This was a man who received an award for winning the Avery and the [Brendan Dassey, Avery’s nephew] cases. He was named prosecutor of the year by a certain organization. If I were to guess, I would say that he’s interested in trying to preserve the victory as his legacy as opposed to going down in history as a prosecutor who victimized vulnerable people.
What’s your reaction to calls for Steven Avery to be released since the show premiered?
Demos: I think it’s great to have viewers engaged and to have people getting involved in the world. But our hope is the dialogue reaches beyond these cases or beyond Manitowoc County or Wisconsin, for that matter. This is an American story. This just happened to be a high-profile case that two filmmakers spent a decade chronicling so that people could see it in depth. But I guarantee you that what you see playing out in this series is playing out in every state in this nation, and there’s a broader dialogue that needs to be happening.