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Making a Murderer: Steven Avery cannot be pardoned by Barack Obama

Petitions calling for the 53-year-old to receive a presidential pardon have collectively gained a total of almost 300,000 signatures

Tuesday 05 January 2016 12:33 GMT
Steven Avery was the subject of a hit Netflix documentary series
Steven Avery was the subject of a hit Netflix documentary series (AFP PHOTO / HANDOUT / WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS)

Hundreds of thousands of people backing a campaign asking Barack Obama to pardon convicted murderer Steven Avery look set to be disappointed.

Almost 300,000 signatures have been collected by petitions in support of the 53-year-old on the official White House petition website and, after his story featured in the hugely popular Netflix documentary Making a Murderer.

But despite the many apparent flaws in the investigation and prosecution that led to Avery's conviction in 2007 - and the outrage prompted by the hit TV series - restrictions around presidential pardons mean his case is not applicable.

Under US law, presidents can only pardon federal crimes - which are a violation of a statute by the United States Congress - but Avery has been convicted of breaking a state law - passed by the state legislature of local authority.

Avery was sent to prison in 1985 for sexual assault and attempted murder. DNA evidence later proved he was innocent of the crimes, and in 2003 his conviction was overturned.

Two years after his release and his filing of a $36 million lawsuit against Manitowoc County for wrongful conviction, he was again accused and later convicted for the murder of Teresa Halbach.

Avery maintains his innocence of both alleged crimes, and during his second trial his defence team claimed Manitowoc County police had framed him for the murder. He is currently serving a life sentence at Wisconsin's Waupun Correctional Institution.

Mr Obama has pardoned 64 people to date and his predecessor George W Bush pardoned 77.

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