Manitowoc County Assistant District Attorney Michael Griesbach wanted to get the story straight when it came to Steven Avery.“Itwas a horrible crime,” said Griesbach.Steven Avery is most known for being convicted of the 2005 Halloween murder of photographer Teresa Halbach. But Griesbach focused his book on the crime Avery didn’t commit.Griesbach’s book Unreasonable Inferences starts in 1985 on the shore of Lake Michigan in Manitowoc County. That’s when Penny Beernsten was raped and nearly killed.
Unreasonable Inferences is a true crime story written by a prosecutor in the Wisconsin county where the events recounted occurred. From the brutal assault of a woman jogging along a remote stretch of beach on the Lake Michigan shoreline, through a history-making verdict twenty years later, it’s a fast-paced story full of suspense.
The astonishing aftermath of the original trial received extensive coverage in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Fox News, NBC, and CNN, among others. But Unreasonable Inferences is more than just another fascinating true crime story. It’s a chilling example of what can happen when those in power lose sight of their calling, and a stark reminder of the unintended consequences that can flow from a single wrong.
Police and prosecutors were forced to make decisions in this case that tested their moral fiber, and their failure to make the right ones ruined the already troubled life of one person and tragically wreaked havoc on the lives of several others. Prosecutors rarely dwell on wrongful convictions, especially when the exonerated man was a nefarious sort like Steven Avery — a lost and dangerous soul with a record a mile long.
“Who cares about the likes of Steven Avery?” is a common refrain. Maybe he was innocent this time, but sooner or later he would have landed in prison anyhow — and that’s where he belongs! But by unpeeling the layers of this twenty year crime saga, Griesbach shows how that view is not only wrongheaded, but dangerous to public safety. Because when it comes to crime and punishment, “a single injustice can fester for years.”
Michael Griesbach is a prosecuting attorney in the Wisconsin county where the events recounted in this book occurred. He hopes to leave readers better informed about the inner workings of the criminal justice system and more concerned about those whose lives it deeply affects.
Griesbach joins Burl Barer and Don Woldman this coming Saturday, April 23, on TRUE CRIME UNCENSORED, produced by Matt Alan.