In the wake of Netflix’s release of Making a Murderer, more details about the Steven Avery trial have reached the press, some left out of the true-crime documentary, some new. A report from OnMilwaukee.com has revealed that, while acting as a juror during Avery’s trial for murder, Carl Wardman served as a volunteer for the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department. His occupation matters as Avery’s defense team relied on the argument that the sheriff’s department had framed Avery and planted evidence. His son, Chris Wardman, also worked as a sheriff’s department supervisor in the jail during the trial.
According to court transcripts, Wardman did disclose his volunteer work during jury selection, though neither the defense nor the state made a motion to strike him. In questioning, Wardman mentioned he had been arrested for OWI ten years ago, and that an officer from another agency had taken cash from him and lied under oath, opening up the possibility that he may have been amenable to the defense’s arguments. OnMilwaukee did not receive comment from Wardman or his son for its story, though it has assembled a meticulous collection of evidence, including news clippings, court documents, and even his LinkedIn page.
One other juror, who was excused during the trial, was interviewed on the show. Another has recently come forward to say they believe Avery was framed, alleging, according to Making a Murderer creators Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, conversations in the jury room in which jurors traded votes in order to avoid a mistrial.