MTV's "Unlocking the Truth" is the perfect platform to bring awareness to wrongful conviction cases. In this documentary series, the factors that had lead to the imprisonment of Kelvin Michael Smith, Michael Politte and Byron Case are reexamined in the hopes to prove their innocence. In this first episode, the unfortunate murder of Michael's mother, Rita Pilotte is revisited in order to obtain any evidence that could potentially support his appeal. With the help of legal advocate Eva Nagao and exenoree Ryan Ferguson, it is their purpose to do a thorough investigation of these cases to seek justice for those who may be innocent.
Brought to the partners' attention by the Midwest Innocence Project, they discover that in the autopsy of Michael's case, Rita was knocked unconscious by a strong blow to her head. Shortly after, her body was lit on fire. However, there was no physical evidence as to what object was used in the crime scene .
There are many factors in this case that could potentially have his motion to appeal compromised. During his interrogation, the then 14-year-old Michael was given a voice stress analysis test. Failing this, he had become a prime suspect in the investigation. Along with his history of setting fires with friends, it was discovered that him and his friend Josh had lit a fire at the railroad tracks the night his mother was murdered. In addition to this, there were traces of gasoline discovered on his shoes that could've been used in the crime scene. On top of what has been previously mentioned, there is a clip in the show that you need to watch for yourself. It's up to you to determine what you think was said in the discrepancy with Michael's highly incriminating statement he allegedly made while incarcerated in juvenile detention.
Going to Michael's hometown in Mineral Point, Missouri, the two hosts interview his family members to collect information about that day. It eventually leads to creating a visual reconstruction of the trailer home which was demolished years ago by his aunt Patsy Skiles and uncle Chuck Skiles. They were the first of his family to find Rita's body. In their interview they revealed that there were rumors of someone walking through the field behind the trailer that morning past the railroad tracks. The person had allegedly had their car parked in the school parking lot, which is less than a 5 minute walk from Rita's trailer.
With the likeliness of another suspect in this case, the episode ends with possible suspicion thrown towards Michael's father, Edward Pilotte, who was in the midst of a divorce with Rita during the time of her murder and arson. Michael's sisters Chrystal and Melonie believe that their father could potentially be responsible. Already showing that the family has some type of disconnect with Edward, they had shared a crude joke their father had emailed Chrystal the last time they had talked. It involved a husband giving his wife a brand new car for Christmas and having it explode with her inside of it. This is not the only inkling as to why they think he could be capable; the person who was seen in the field that morning had to know the area and the close proximity between the trailer and the school yard. Michael claims to have woken up from smelling the smoke, running back into the trailer to wake up their mother, eventually finding her body. When the police arrived, he was still inside the trailer and there is no DNA evidence tying Michael to the murder of his mother.
Detained in the same correctional facility as Michael, Ryan chooses to document this case in order to uncover any information not found within it's investigation and trial to support him if he's innocent. However, Ryan and Eva do not represent Michael, he makes it clear that their purpose is to find the truth and help pass on evidence that could potentially exenorate those convicted who are innocent. If the person is guilty, then they pass along the evidence they found to keep them convicted. Being a victim of wrongful convictions, Ryan was arrested at the age of 19 for a murder he did not commit. Due to government misconduct for a lack of DNA evidence, false confessions and eyewitness misidentifications, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder and robbery. Now rightfully released, he hopes to help others who have had their freedom compromised due to wrongful convictions.
You can find the first episode on MTV's YouTube page. Here is the MTV trailer of the series which airs Wednesdays 11/10c
Now that you have the setup, stay tuned for my weekly viewpoint on all of the episodes to come! I am still unsure of what to believe, but I definitely have some theories. Comment down below what you think the truth really is.