Tag Archives: Brendan Dassey

A woman takes the health care fight directly to her senator, and it’s fascinating viewing. Stephen Colbert goes on Russian TV to announce he’s running for President. And the “Making a Murderer” kid, finally getting justice

Greetings from the land of crab cakes, Orioles fans, and much cheaper than NYC prices. The family and I have spent the weekend in Maryland visiting relatives, and today we’re headed to Washington, D.C. for some sightseeing and maybe a trip to the Oval Office, where I’ll try to convince our nearly-3-year-old son that he really is more qualified to be President than the guy currently doing the job. (By the way, highlight of the weekend for him is the discovery of this way-cool bubbles-making toy my wife’s aunt has. It’s called a Bubbles Making Bubbles stick, and that photo above was taken by my wife. He played with that thing for like an hour. And yeah, one’s headed to our apartment right now. God bless Amazon.)

First up today, so much is being said and written about this “so bad it’s hard to believe they can say it’s good with a straight face” health care bill that may be voted on by Congress this week. I don’t want to get into every single lie or mistruth being uttered about it, or how disastrous this would be for so many people. Here, instead, is a simple 90-second video featuring a West Virginia woman confronting her Senator, Shelley Capito, about what will happen to the woman’s daughter if “TrumpCare” is passed.

Simple, powerful, effective.

**Next up today, I thought this was pretty ingenious. Stephen Colbert flew to Russia to be on a Russian talk show, to announce he’s running for President in 2020. “Might as well cut out the middleman,” Colbert said.

Of course he’s not really running, but this was oddly fascinating to watch, Colbert as a guest on Russian TV.

**Finally today, you may have missed this over the weekend but if you watching Netflix’s “Making A Murderer” you’re probably as obsessed with the cases it covered as I am. Anyway, it looks like a grievous wrong was finally righted on Friday. Brendan Dassey, the nephew of convicter murderer Steven Avery, was forced into a confession and verbally taken advantage of by Wisconsin sheriff Dept., then sentenced to life in prison in 2007.

Thanks in part to the huge success of the documentary, Dassey’s plight has gotten a lot of attention, and Friday he got one step closer to much-deserved freedom. A federal appeals court ruled that his confession was illegally obtained, and that unless the state wants to retry him within the next 90 days,  or appeal to the Supreme Court, he will be set free.

Dassey’s plight was the most tragic part of “Making a Murderer;
a mentally challenged kid totally steamrolled by the legal system. Now, finally, it looks like justice will be done.

 

“Making A Murderer” was amazing, and infuriating. John Oliver’s great segment on abortion. The bus that lets you give confession while you ride.

SteveAvery

For the past two months, I have been trying to avoid any and all news about “Making a Murderer,” the 10-part Netflix documentary about a man named Steven Avery, who was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for 18 years on a rape charge, then was free for a year before getting arrested again and being charged with murder.

So many people in my life had told me it was fantastic, that the 10-year process undertaken by filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos had resulted in an amazing look at our criminal justice system, as seen through the small-town Manitowoc County, Wisc. sheriff’s office.

I knew I would love it. What I didn’t know, and what I learned as I finally plowed through it over the past few weeks, was just how infuriated “Making A Murderer” would make me.

Over 10 episodes, you will get outraged and angered over and over again, and wonder how in the world what happened to Steven Avery could happen in America.

It was a sensational, sensational movie. Of course I have some thoughts, but first, a WARNING!  THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD!If you plan to watch “MAM” and don’t want to know anything about it, skip ahead to the video underneath this part of the post.

OK, for the rest of us, some thoughts I must share:

— Point No.1: Steven Avery was no saint. He may even be considered a bad guy, and not very helpful to society. But when a person is put on trial, the prosecution must prove they are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and I don’t know how anyone can watch this series and NOT see reasonable doubt. From the lack of Teresa Halbach’s DNA on her car key, to the completely ridiculous story told by Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey (more on him in a bit), the amazing conflicts of interest the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Dept. had, I saw reasonable doubt all over the place. There was so little evidence tying Avery to the crime that it stunned me not only that he lost, but that every appeal so far has been denied.

— Point No. 2: What the Sheriff’s office and his own attorneys did to teenaged, low-IQ Brendan Dassey was absolutely deplorable. Between his extremely-coerced confession, where he was basically led by the hand, to the horribly biased job done by Dassey’s public defender, who was basically in cahoots with the sheriff, this poor kid was railroaded by the system. I don’t think he had anything to do with Teresa’s murder at all, and yet he’ll be in prison for 40 years because of a grossly unfair arrest and trial.

— No. 3: Avery’s lawyers, who he hired with the $400,000 he settled for in a civil suit from the earlier false conviction, were fantastic. Dean Strang and Jerry Buting did a marvelous job picking apart the prosecution’s case, and pointing out how easily Manitowoc Co.’s investigators could have planted evidence.

— No. 4: On the other hand, special prosecutor Ken Kratz struck me as just an asshole. From his smug attitude, to his completely unethical story-changing of how Avery committed the murder, Kratz was everything that’s wrong with our legal system. Happy to find out that he eventually resigned from his post after a sexting scandal.

— Finally, of all the crazy things that happened during this series, what dumbfounded me the most was how both Kratz and Strang/Buting held daily press conferences, during Avery’s trial, where they explained their strategy and answered very detailed questions. I have never, ever seen anything like that, and I can’t possibly imagine why the lawyers thought it was a good idea.

I mean, that’s unheard of.

I strongly, strongly recommend “Making a Murderer.” It’s fairly addictive, and it’s a fantastic portrait of just how easily our criminal justice system can ruin lives.

**Next up today, John Oliver’s fantastic series “Last Week Tonight” began its third season last week, and thank the Lord for that. As I’ve said many times in this space before, Oliver is the funniest, smartest and downright clever-est late-night host out there, and I never, ever watch his show and fail to be wildly entertained.

For his second show back he tackled the always-controversial issue of abortion, and how states over the past few years have disgustingly rolled back laws and made the procedure incredibly more difficult to procure.

As usual, Oliver’s biting commentary hit home. Really, really important stuff.

**Quick interlude here to show you this amazing play from Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, who may be the most entertaining athlete in any sport right now. Wow, is he amazing…

mercy bus 2

**And finally today, I’m Jewish so this wouldn’t apply to me, but I think it’s pretty funny and awesome.

There’s a new bus driving around England these days called the “Mercy Bus,” and on it you can give confession if you feel the need, and you’re too busy to get to church.

Commit a sin on your way to the bus stop? No worries, friend! You can get that off your mind immediately.

Steal someone’s seat on the bus? Say something horrible on a cell phone call while on the bus? Don’t sweat it another minute, you can get absolution before your next stop!

Says Father Frankie Mulgrew, the inventor of the bus:

“The Mercy Bus is for everybody, as God’s mercy is for everybody. If anybody has a burden, we’re inviting them to come onto the bus and be free from it.”

Grab a token and get your Hail Marys ready, all aboard!