'Making a Murderer' Update: Steven Avery's First Accuser Speaks About False Identification in New Documentary

Steven Avery's past is coming to light in a new documentary that takes viewers inside his first prison sentence, false accusation and his accuser's take on the situation. The documentary Contaminated Memories, spotlights how both memories and police interactions can fail an innocent party when gut instincts and false evidence point to them as a culprit.

The subject of the 13-minute film published by The New York Times is Penny Beernsten, who was raped and attacked near Lake Michigan in 1985. As Making a Murderer fans know, Avery was accused of the attack by Beernsten and served 18 years in prison, until he was exonerated based on DNA evidence.

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Steven Avery is in prison for the murder of Teresa Halbach, though he maintains he's innocent. Netflix

In a police lineup, Beernsten identified Avery as her attacker, after she'd already identified his photo. She described the feeling in the documentary. "When I came to number six [which was Avery] I felt the color drain from my face, the hair on the back of my neck stood up, I marked on the piece of paper 'number six', folded it in half and gave it to the Sheriff."

Now, Beernsten says she thinks other factors may have influenced the identification process. She said Avery "was the only suspect who was in both the photo array and the live line-up. Once I made that identification, he, in fact, became my assailant," she said. "You can't go back and decontaminate."

Avery is currently serving a life sentence for the murder Teresa Halbach, which took place in 2002. He has maintained his innocence all along. His story, along with the parallel accusations against his nephew Brendan Dassey, are the subject of Netflix's Making a Murderer.

Many fans of the show and theories both in and out of the documentary claim that police may have framed Avery, or overlooked others, even in Avery's family, that could have been involved in the murder.

Avery's current lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, commented on Contaminated Memories via Twitter on June 30. "Finally an admission from the rape victim that the cops contaminated her eyewitness ID of SA. Only took 34 years," she wrote.

Zellner has vocally challenged the Wisconsin courts as well as the prosecution team that convicted Avery. She has a handful of theories that suggest Halbach's family members as key players, and is currently working diligently to earn Avery a new trial in a step toward exoneration.

'Making a Murderer' Update: Steven Avery's First Accuser Speaks About False Identification in New Documentary | Culture