Sorry 'Making a Murderer' Fans, Obama Can't Help Steven Avery

Presidential pardons only work for those who committed federal crimes.

After bingeing on the Netflix docu-series Making a Murderer, thousands of people signed petitions for Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, who were found guilty of the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach, to be pardoned by President Obama. The wildly popular series called into question some of the evidence that led to their guilty verdicts. 

But last night, The White House issued a statement (opens in new tab) saying there wasn't really anything Obama could do.

That petition surpassed 100,000 signatures this week, which meant that the White House had to issue the public response. There's also a petition going on (opens in new tab) which has racked up more than 350,000 signatures and that one is, actually, directed towards the person who has the authority to pardon the men: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. But looks like that one isn't going to work either. Walker has never issued (opens in new tab) a pardon during his time in office and he's not about to start now. His office issued a statement (opens in new tab) Tuesday saying: "Those who feel they have been wrongly convicted can seek to have their convictions overturned by a higher court."

As Avery's defense attorney Dean Strang recently told Slate (opens in new tab), Avery's last hope is getting a new trial:

Like many of the petitioners, we'll be waiting to see what happens next.

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Kate Storey
Kate Storey

Kate Storey is a contributing editor at Marie Claire and writer-at-large at Esquire magazine, where she covers culture and politics. Kate's writing has appeared in ELLE, Harper's BAZAAR, Town & Country, and Cosmopolitan, and her first book comes out in summer 2023.