Why Was The Steven Avery Juror Excused? Richard Mahler Has A Puzzling Excuse

It’s been two months since Netflix’s Making a Murderer captured the nation’s attention, and new theories, revelations, and insights about the case keep on coming. The trial that landed Steven Avery in jail for life on a murder conviction is highly complex, and viewers of the show have analyzed it from just about every angle imaginable. One aspect that’s received heightened attention lately is the juror who was dismissed midway through the case. Why was Richard Mahler excused from the jury during Steven Avery’s trial?

If you haven’t seen it, Making a Murderer centers on the murder of Teresa Halbach and the subsequent trial. The show covers a lot of ground, and it’s easy to forget every minute detail of the case, but at one point in the trial, juror Richard Mahler was dismissed and replaced with an alternate. This became relevant after Avery was convicted of murdering Halbach, because Mahler spoke to Yahoo Finance in Jan. 2016 and said that he doesn’t think Avery did it. It’s possible, then, that Avery’s life would have taken a different course if Mahler had stayed on that jury.

So, why was Mahler dismissed? Making a Murderer referenced a “family emergency,” but didn’t go much deeper into it. In an interview with Yahoo, Mahler expanded a bit on what that emergency was, although he was still somewhat vague.

“My stepdaughter ended up in a ditch and my wife needed me at home,” Mahler said.

That obviously leaves several questions unanswered. How exactly did his stepdaughter end up in that ditch? Why did that require Mahler to be at home? Mahler didn’t explain things any further, although given his willingness to talk to the media so far, it’s not inconceivable that he might at some point.

Mahler cited several factors in explaining why he’s unconvinced of Avery’s guilt. He has suspicions about the DNA evidence that was presented in court, and also claims that two of his fellow jurors were related to employees of Manitowoc County, which prosecuted the case against Avery. Manitowoc County Sheriff confirmed to OnMilwaukee that one of the jurors, Carl Waldman, was indeed an official and active volunteer with the sheriff’s office during the Avery trial. Manitowoc County denies all allegations of wrongdoing during the Avery trial.

But not all of the juror’s on that case are convinced that Avery is innocent. Diane Free, who remained on the jury until the case’s conclusion, told The Associated Press that she’s “comfortable with the verdict we reached,” and alleged further that Making a Murderer is “a movie, not a documentary.”

Image: Making a Murderer/Netflix