A petition directed to U.S. President Barack Obama urging him to pardon the incarcerated subjects of the hit Netflix true-crime docu-series Making a Murderer has earned a response from the White House.

Launched online at We the People on Dec. 20 and currently hovering around 130,000 signatures, the petition called for a full pardon of Steven Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, in connection to the murder in Wisconsin of photographer Teresa Halbach.

Netflix series 'Making a Murderer' grips fans2:02

A statement via the We the People website explained details of the U.S. president's power of clemency and the boundaries of the office's authority in such matters.

"This clemency authority empowers the president to exercise leniency towards persons who have committed federal crimes. Under the constitution, only federal criminal convictions, such as those adjudicated in the United States District Courts, may be pardoned by the president," the statement read.

However, a U.S. president's authority doesn't extend to state criminal offences.

"Since Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are both state prisoners, the president cannot pardon them. A pardon in this case would need to be issued at the state level by the appropriate authorities."

The statement goes on to state that during his time in office Obama has granted 184 commutations (noted as more than the last five presidents combined) and issued 66 pardons.

The White House is required to issue an official response to petitions on the site that reach 100,000 signatures.

Engrossing series

The 10-part documentary series Making a Murderer debuted on streaming service Netflix in mid-December and has sparked a wave of armchair detectives to discuss and debate the case online and in person.

Making a Murderer filmmakers discuss 'social justice' narrative1:40

A decade in the works, the series by filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos suggests Wisconsin authorities were biased and planted evidence against Avery, a man exonerated by DNA evidence after serving 18 years in prison there for a rape conviction before being sent back to jail just two years later for Halbach's murder. 

A separate online petition at Change.org, which is directed at both Obama and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, has surpassed 350,000 signatures.
Netflix's Making a Murderer

Filmed over a 10-year period, Netflix's Making a Murderer is the latest series in a new wave of true-crime drama that's feeding public obsession with the genre. (Making of a Murderer / Netflix.com)