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‘Making a Murderer’ Sheriff Ken Petersen: ‘Prison Is a Good Place’ for Steven Avery

So many opinions! Dr. Phil scored an exclusive interview with Making a Murderer sheriff Ken Petersen — who was the head of the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department during Steven Avery‘s 2005 trial for the murder of Teresa Halbach — and Petersen stands by his word.

In the Netflix docuseries, Petersen was skewered for saying that it would be easier to kill Avery than to frame him, as alleged in the 10-part series. “It was a weak moment,” Petersen said of his now-controversial statement. “A frustrating time.”

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Dr. Phil and Sheriff Kenneth Petersen
Dr. Phil and Sheriff Kenneth Petersen CBS

Petersen’s history with Avery is complex: He was the arresting officer back in 1985 when America’s most talked-about criminal was accused of raping a woman. Avery ultimately spent 18 years behind bars for a crime that he didn’t commit, and sued the Manitowoc County sheriff’s department for $36 million after he was exonerated.

Years later, their lives intersected again when Petersen was the sheriff of Manitowoc County during Avery’s trial for Halbach’s murder. On Netflix’s series, it’s alleged that authorities planted evidence against Avery to convict him in the murder of the 25-year-old photographer.

Steven Avery
Steven Avery is escorted out of a Manitowoc County courtroom after his arraignment on Jan. 17, 2006, in Manitowoc, Wisc. AP Photo/Morry Gash

According to Petersen, he has zero regrets about what’s happened to Avery. “None, whatsoever,” the former sheriff said of Avery’s initial stint behind bars. “I was just doing my job … Police were fair. I have no reason to doubt the integrity of Detective Lenk or Colborn. I found them over the years to be very capable and very forthright detectives. I wouldn’t question their honesty at any time.”

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From his standpoint, Avery is dangerous. “If you’re going to get the case reopened, you’re going to have to find new evidence, but I don’t think any exists,” Petersen said of the new defense team. “I think he would kill again. Prison is a good place for him. He can’t hurt anybody, and no one can hurt him.”

Teresa Halbach
Teresa Halbach Netflix

If the two were to come face to face, Petersen would make this one note to Avery: “I’d tell him he’s exactly where he belongs,” the former authority said. “And for as long as he lives.”

He isn’t the only one to rail against Making a Murderer for putting Avery in a positive light. Nancy Grace said that while the series is well done, it’s inaccurate. “Steve Avery is the real killer of Teresa Halbach,” the HLN host told Dr. Phil on Friday.

Meanwhile, both of Avery’s former fiancees, Jodi Stachowski and Sandra Greenman, have spoken out about the case. While Stachowski said this past week that Avery was the murderer, Greenman claimed that her ex-love was innocent.

Watch Petersen discuss the case above, and tune in to the second portion of Dr. Phil’s special on Monday, January 18.


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