January 19, 2016
Former Manitowoc County Sheriff Kenneth Petersen, who arrested Steven Avery, the subject of the documentary series, “Making a Murderer,” 31 years ago for rape in 1985, admits he heard about a phone call in 1995 that some say could possibly have cleared Avery of the rape charge. But neither he nor the others in the sheriff department who knew about the call made a record of the call until 2003, the year Avery was exonerated and released from prison. Petersen, who was the Manitowoc Sherriff when Avery was arrested there for murder in 2003, makes this shocking admission in an exclusive interview with Dr. Phil airing Monday.
“I think people are saying, ‘If he got that call in ’95 and sat on that,’ that doesn’t sound right. Does it?” Dr. Phil asks. “I think that’s a big part of the reason that they’re trying to make the case that that department in Mantiowoc County had an agenda and was not being forthcoming with what could have been exculpatory evidence as far back as 1995, and therefore are very suspicious of the politics of that department at the time of the second crime and investigation,” Dr. Phil says.
“I don’t remember anything in ’03. I remember [Sergeant Colborn] talking about it in ’95. But he didn’t talk to me about it,” Petersen reveals to Dr. Phil. “More than likely, it would have been [Chief Deputy] Gene Kusche and/or Sherriff Tom Kocourek.”
“You remember hearing about the call back in 1995?” Dr. Phil asks.
“Yes,” he replies.
“So you knew the call came in in 1995?” Dr. Phil probes. “So why would you not say, ‘We need to follow this up’? Let’s do some more investigation.” Dr. Phil asks.
“That would have been up to the investigative unit at the time,” Petersen says.
When Avery was arrested in 2005, he was embroiled in a $36 million civil lawsuit against the county for wrongful conviction in the rape case. Avery was found guilty of the murder at trial and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole, and many believe law enforcement framed him in retaliation for suing, and possible evidence like this phone call adds to people’s distrust of the Mantiowoc County Sherriff’s department.
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