By Laura Lynott
Queen of Irish crime fiction Louise Phillips said Steven Avery from Making A Murderer’s guilt is “questionable” – as she reveals her latest book has similarities to the hit Netflix show.
Phillips – who is offering three Ireland Today readers her latest book The Game Changer – spoke about Avery, imprisoned for the murder of Teresa Halbach in 2007, as his legal team claimed he will be exonerated within months.
Phillips said: Based on information Steve Avery’s guilt was questionable. There are a lot of questions in that case. He wasn’t guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
“In interview after the show, his attorney said he hoped he was guilty because if he wasn’t – it was a complete injustice.”
Since the TV show aired, Avery, who was jailed for life without parole, has a top new legal team who are convinced they will see him freed.
One of the matters that incensed a lot of crime drama fans, including Phillips was the treatment of Avery’s nephew in the show.
Brendan Dassey, 26, was 16 in 2007, when he was sentenced for life after he confessed to the rape and murder of 25-year-old Ms Halbach.
But it was revealed on the show that he had been coerced in to a confession by Manitowoc police and there was no account taken he suffered learning difficulties. The youth later said in court he had made the entire account up.
Brendan was victimised to the highest level, Phillips said.
“Making a Murderer was terrific. A lot of people perceive it as if the point of the series was about if Avery was innocent or not. But I think the producers had a much bigger agenda.
“They wanted to shine light on the American justice system, that there are a lot of questions to be asked. I thought it was a very good journalistic documentary.
“But I found it upsetting to watch the interview of the younger boy, Brendan. In Ireland if someone has a learning difficulty they wouldn’t be treated in that way by the Gardai.
While upsetting I found it interesting as a crime writer the interview techniques the Manitowoc police used to predispose a confession rather than get the truth.
“It was very interesting and ties in with the story i’m writing now about how a case can be influenced by what someone looks like, sounds like, their background, how much influence they have, and how much influence the jurors have.”
Avery’s attorneys during the show, Dean Strang and Jerry Buting will visit Dublin, Cork and Galway this September in a discussion on systemic failures in the criminal justice system, as well as the implications of the Avery case.
They will speak at Cork Opera House on September 22 in Vicar Street, Dublin on March 24 and the Black Box in Galway on September 25.
Phillips revealed the working title of the book she is currently working on, that runs on a similar line to the Netflix show, is called After I was Killed.
The plot is based in the U.S and it draws on how someone’s physical appearance and background can influence a trial.
“It is a court trial with a trial transcript. It’s a little bit like Making a Murderer but the idea came to me before I saw the show,” she said.
“I was interested in how the U.S deals with cases, how the media handle trials in the States compared to here.
“It’s quite difficult to have an unbiased trial in the U.S, the way their constitution is anyone can say anything.
“It’s all about perception and how it influences decisions and whether or not someone can be found guilty even if they are innocent.”
If Phillips’ next book is anything like Making A Murderer it is set to be a big hit with crime drama fans.
The Dublin author is planning a visit to the states within weeks, where she will carry out research for the novel.
She is a writer that always researches her books and is in regular contact with garda detectives and psychologists to try to get in to the minds of her killers.
“I do work with detectives and psychologist to form my research because when you talk to people who do it as a day job, you get a sense of reality and how difficult it can be,” she said.
The Irish police force are much more community based than the American police. With for example the Philip Kearns case, the family liaison officer is still the officer working with that family even though Philip has never been found.
“You can get a sense of the human fall out of the people who see it first hand.”
Philip, from Rathfarnham, Dublin, had just turned 13, when he vanished on October 23, 1986, while walking back to Colaiste Eanna school where he had been a first-year student for just over a month.
But despite speaking to gardai and psychologists and various other specialists, to produce her novels, Phillips revealed she does not like the thought of getting to close to crime.
“I try to get a sense of the loss but don’t want to go to invade space,” she said.
My whole sense of loss and anything in the novels comes from my own personal experience. It isn’t as dark as in any of the stories.
“In Dolls House, one of the protagonists suffers domestic abuse. I know people who suffer domestic abuse and I know the fall out.
“While in Red Ribbons, the concept was the bad man taking away a child. Every parent knows that fear and being a parent, the fear of anyone ever taking my child was the worst thing possible thing I could think of.
“After that book a lot of parents said to me how it made them realise the dangers of how easily it could potentially be to take a child – and in a way I feel like I may have done a little good there by drawing more attention to it as a matter.”
And it looks like the writer will be attempting to conquer the U.S market for the first time with her literary criminal exploits.
Red Ribbons will be released in the States in November and Dolls House in the spring of 2017.
When criminal psychologist Dr Kate Pearson was twelve years old she was abducted,but she has no memory of the time she was held.
Phillips’ latest crime novel The Game Changer is released in paperback today. The book centres on an anonymous note being pushed under criminal psychologist Dr Kate Pearson’s door.
The note reads “I remember you, Kate.” The psychologist discovers her parents lied to her about the length of time she was missing as a child and she is forced to question everything about her childhood.
The character digs deeper into her distant memory to find out the truth.
Yet another psychological crime offering from Phillips, the book is sure to keep you gripped.
The novel is available in Easons from €8.99 today and in most good book shops and online at Amazon and other outlets.
If you are a Louise Phillips fan, enter our competition to win a copy of The Game Changer.
Simply tweet what you like about www.irelandtodaynews.com followed by the hashtag #irelandtodaynews.com on Twitter and like our Facebook Page, Ireland Today and you could be in with a chance of winning the book.
We will announce the winners on Monday.