White House Responds to 'Making a Murderer' Petition: Obama Cannot Pardon Steven Avery

President Barack Obama and Steven Avery Credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images; Netflix

The White House replied to the Making a Murderer petition calling for the release of Steven Avery on Thursday, January 7.

The monumental success of Netflix's true crime documentary series, which tells the story of Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey being convicted in 2005 for the murder of Teresa Halbach, resulted in an online petition that has garnered nearly 130,000 signatures. The petition calls for President Barack Obama to grant pardons to both Dassey and Avery for their "wrongful conviction in the connection to the murder of Teresa Halbach."

Avery, 53, has maintained his innocence since his arrest and conviction. Making a Murderer explores the theory that he could have been framed by authorities during that time period.

President Obama replied to the We the People petition on Thursday via a White House rep. "A pardon in this case would need to be issued at the state level by the appropriate authorities," the response read. "While this case is out of the Administration's purview, President Obama is committed to restoring the sense of fairness at the heart of our justice system. Under the constitution, only federal criminal convictions, such as those adjudicated in the United States District Courts, may be pardoned by the President. In addition, the President's pardon power extends to convictions adjudicated in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and military court-martial proceedings. However, the President cannot pardon a state criminal offense."

Both Avery and Dassey are state prisoners, meaning that the president lacks the authority to grant pardons on their behalf. Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, has already stated that he will not pardon the men. Avery is currently serving a life sentence behind bars with no possibility of parole. His nephew will be eligible for parole in 2048.

Meanwhile, Investigation Discovery and NBC News' Peacock Productions announced on Thursday, January 7, that they will be teaming up for Front Page: The Steven Avery Story, which will air at the end of January. The series will be hosted by Dateline NBC correspondent Keith Morrison.

Investigation Discovery president Henry Schleiff told Us Weekly and other reporters during a Television Critics Association winter press tour panel that the special will "provide critical, crucial evidence and testimony that will answer many questions surrounding Steven Avery."

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