In recent days, nearly 130,000 Making a Murderer fans have signed a petition on the White House website asking President Obama to pardon Steve Avery, who was found guilty of the murder of Teresa Halbach in 2007. But Avery was convicted of a state crime, not a federal one, meaning Obama couldn’t even pardon him if he wanted to.
Because the petition broke 100,000 signatures in 30 days, the White House was obligated to respond to it. It did so in a statement posted yesterday. The text is a few hundred words long, but there are only two important sentences:
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.
Theoretically, there is still hope: a Change.org petition for Avery’s freedom addressed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker—the man who actually could pardon him—has over 300,000 signatures. But that effort is likely futile as well. For one thing, a petition on a website carries no legal power. For another, as NBC News points out, Walker has never pardoned a single person in his five years in office. It’s unlikely he’ll make Avery the first.