The White House responded to one of two existing petitions asking for the pardon of Wisconsin resident Steven Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach.
Following the Netflix docu-series, "Making a Murderer," more than 100,000 viewers of the show signed a We The People petition, claiming the justice system "embarrassingly failed both men."
The petition continues,
There is clear evidence that the Manitowoc County sheriff's department used improper methods to convict both Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. This is a black mark on the justice system as a whole, and should be recognized as such, while also giving these men the ability to live as normal a life as possible.
In an official response from the White House on Thursday, it begins,
Thank you for signing a We the People petition on the Teresa Halbach murder case, currently featured on the "Making a Murderer" documentary series. We appreciate your interest in this case.
The document goes on to explain the pardoning power President Obama holds, which excludes state criminal offenses and, thus, does nothing for Steven Avery or Brendan Dassey.
The document reads,
Since Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are both state prisoners, the President cannot pardon them. A pardon in this case would need to be issued at the state level by the appropriate authorities.
Since the time of his conviction, Avery has denied his involvement in the death of photographer Teresa Halbach, instead suggesting the Manitowoc County Police Department framed him.
Without the possibility of parole, 53-year-old Avery will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Citations: Entertainment Weekly