Anatomy of a murder story

Slow panning shots over the landscape of rural America; roads slicing through flat farmland covered in snow: the latest TV binge-watching sensation has echoes of Fargo and True Detective. Yet there are no actors, and the events that unspool have not been scripted. Netflix's Making a Murderer purports to tell a true story, following hit shows Serial and The Jinx in documenting perceived miscarriages of justice.

Steven Avery was exonerated in 2003. The Manitowoc, Wisconsin man had served 18 years for the sexual assault and attempted murder of a female jogger before fresh DNA evidence proved his innocence. Two years later, just after he had filed a $36m lawsuit against the local county, Avery was arrested for the murder of 25-year-old Teresa Halbach. In 2007, he and his nephew Brendan Dassey were convicted of Halbach's murder and sentenced to life in prison. Along the way, film-makers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos recorded an account of what Avery's defence team argued were apparent wrongdoings by the police and prosecutors: forced confessions, conflicts of interest, planted evidence and, from the start, presumption of guilt.

A decade in the making, the 10-episode docuseries was only released on 18 December - but it has already created a furore. A petition asking for Avery to be pardoned attracted more than 300,000 signatures from people in 144 countries within a fortnight of its launch. Another, on the White House's website, has met the 100,000 needed for an official government response.

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