Unlocking the Truth Recap: Is Michael Politte Innocent?

MTV is trying something different this season with the new reality-crime-drama Unlocking the Truth.

The show follows Ryan Ferguson as he goes around trying to prove the innocence of various convicts.

Each episode of Unlocking the Truth investigates the case of a convict who may not have received a fair trial. But before that, this first episode starts with the host, Ryan Ferguson, telling his story.

Ryan Ferguson's Own Unlocking the Truth

It turns out that Ryan Ferguson has his own history of being convicted for a crime that he says he didn't commit. In 2005, Ferguson was convicted of a murder that occurred four years earlier, in which a local reporter was brutally strangled late at night after Halloween.

That night, according to court records, Ferguson and a friend had been partying and were intoxicated and possibly under the influence of other substances.

The murder case remained unsolved until the friend (named Erickson) started to wonder if he had been involved in the murder. Local station KOMU reported that Erickson told other friends about his concerns and that those friends contacted the police.

Under investigation, Erickson couldn't remember anything about the night of the murder; nevertheless, he eventually confessed to police that he and Ryan Ferguson had robbed the murder victim that night.

After a long trial, in which one witness said he was confident that he saw Erickson and Ferguson at the scene, the two were convicted and sentenced to decades in prison.

In 2012, however, both the witness and Erickson recanted their court statements, saying that they were pressured to lie by law enforcement. Another witness then said she didn't see Ryan Ferguson at the crime scene.

Eventually, in 2013, the conviction was overturned, and Ferguson was released after 10 years in prison. His friend is still in prison, and the case is still unsolved.

Unlocking the Truth of Michael Politte

This episode of Unlocking the Truth looks at the case of Michael Politte, who was sent to jail for allegedly killing his mother in a fire at the age of 14. Politte was known to have started fires before, and his friend, who had been sleeping over, claimed that Politte had disappeared around the time of the killing.

What really happened? Ryan Ferguson and his co-host, Eva Nagao, set out to determine the truth.

After talking to Politte and his attorneys at the innocence project, Ferguson and Nagao talk to Politte's sisters and his uncle and aunt, who all offer what they believe is evidence that Politte is innocent.

Strangely, Politte's sister tells a story that seems to be suggesting that their father had something to do with the murder.

Meanwhile, the aunt and uncle say that a lot of potential evidence supporting Politte's story wasn't presented in the trial. One piece of evidence was that several people saw someone walking across the fields after the fire.

The aunt seemed to know who the person was but wouldn't divulge the information (we're led to assume it was the father).

Then, abruptly, the show ends. All we are left with is a preview of the next episode and a hope that we will get a real resolution later in the season.

Our Take on Unlocking the Truth

So is Unlocking the Truth worth your Wednesday evening? After listening to both seasons of Serial, and watching Investigation Discovery a little more than we should, the show definitely seems familiar.

That said, it's still much more original than most of the new reality shows on TV, and it provides an interesting look into an important issue.

To us, it felt less addictive than Serial, but nonetheless, nobody was willing to change the channel.