”Brendan needs to be alone. When he sees me this Friday, I will be a source of relief. He needs to trust me and the direction I stir him into. We need to separate him from fantasy and get him to reality from our perspective.”
”I am learning the Avery family history and about each member of the Avery family. These are criminals. There are members engaged in sexual activity with nieces, cousins, in-laws.”
”This is truly where the devil reside in comfort. I can’t find no good in any member, these people are pure evil. A friend of mine suggested, this is a one branch family tree. Cut this tree down. We need to end this gene pool here.” Defense Investigator Michael O’Kelly
Since the documentary Making a Murderer has bulldozed its way into the Netflix scene, under our skin, and into our hearts, you will not find a media outlet or social media platform not abuzz with the subject.
Filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi spent a decade following and filming the case of Steven Avery, one of the poster boys for the Innocence Project, who was exonerated after 18 years in prison for the wrongful rape conviction of a local Wisconsin woman.
Their documentary became an international sensation because of its unusual and eerie non-narrative cinéma vérité format, but mostly because of their subjects, Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey; who became entangled in the case because of the fact that he saw his uncle the day of the disappearance of Teresa Halbach, a local freelance photographer working for Auto Trader.
Even if Steven Avery was exonerated in 2003 because of new DNA evidence after having served 18 years in prison for sexual assault under very suspicious circumstances, his ordeal was far from over.
He was in the process of suing Manitowoc County for the cozy sum of $36 million when he got arrested 2 years later, in 2005, for the murder of Teresa Halbach who had visited the family Salvage Yard to take photos of his sister’s van the day she went missing.
The 10-part documentary follows the saga of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey from day one of their trial and tribulations up to their convictions and appeals.
The 10 segments of the documentary depict an harrowing picture of the investigation and legal proceedings the two men went through.
We get to see both sides of the coin, even though the prosecution refused to participate or give interviews. The defense side was not thrilled at first, but they agreed and cooperated to a certain extent with the project. We see the Halbach family and get a pretty vivid picture of their pain, but the main focus is on the trial and judicial system, but in no way were the film crew invested in any independent or joint investigation of the case.
Two months before the Avery’s trial and after the filmmakers had requested an interview with special prosecutor Ken Kratz, Ricciardi received a phone call from the co-lead investigator for the Halbach case who wanted to serve them with a subpoena for any footage related to the investigation.
In the subpoena, Kratz alleged that they were acting as an ‘investigative arm of the defense‘ He also wanted any electronically recorded material that was related to any communication they had with Avery.
Judge Willis who presided over the Halbach murder case quashed it, but it could have spelled disaster for them if Kratz had succeeded. It would have meant the end of the project; at the time they did not have the backing of Netflix and a very limited budget. Read the entire article here.
Ken Kratz who was the special prosecutor during the Avery’s trial after he was charged with the murder of Teresa Halbach, became one of the most polarizing figures of the documentary; and there were many. After refusing to be part of the process, he is now doing the media circuit to complain about the lack of objectivity and the bias he feels is projected in Making a Murderer. He has also provided some alleged incriminating information that he feels was omitted willingly from the film.
So far, his strongest media ally has been Nancy Grace from HLN. Need I say more? This woman after being wrong about the Duke Lacrosse players, and so many other cases, now claims that the documentary is flawed. No wonder the few viewers she has left are mostly hate mongers.
From the sound of it, and all the false information she conveyed on the air, she has not bothered watching it. She is probably too busy flying on her broom.
The other radio and TV stations have not been as supportive. They have listened to his side, but debunking his statements has turned out to be pretty damn easy.
This is the man who argued in closing arguments that reasonable doubts are for innocent people and that planted evidence does not mean a person is not guilty.
Click here to read what some legal experts have to say about Kratz unethical behavior.
In my opinion, the saddest part of this entire case, except for the tragic death of Teresa, is how 16-year-old Brendan Dassey got entangled in this mess because of some heartless authority figures who went after him all gun blazing to make sure they could charge and convict his uncle, Steven Avery. So I will start with his participation or lack thereof, in this case.
We cannot help but feel sorry for Steven Avery for being incarcerated 18 years for a rape he did not commit while having a rock solid alibi. It is really tragic, but he had a criminal past and some of his actions had made him a law enforcement target; not that it justified pinning the crime on him in any way, shape or form.
Brendan Dassey was an innocent 16-year-old who had never done anything wrong in his life. He was a slow learner, and not unlike his uncle, was not blessed with a genius IQ. He lived near his uncle and on the day Teresa Halbach disappeared, on October 31, 2005, after coming to the Salvage yard to photograph a van, he happened to receive a call from Steven asking him to help with a bonfire later on that day; not an unusual activity in that neck of the woods.
Because he basically was the main alibi for Steven Avery, the cops decided to descend on him at school to interrogate him alone. He was interviewed 4 times without his parents or an attorney. Like most people interested in the case, I have read or listened to these horrifying sessions where he is basically bullied into confessing. Every statement is fed to him until he breaks and repeats them. If he says he did not do it, they call him a liar.
Detectives Wiegert and Fassbender had to extirpate a confession from Brendan by figuratively using the jaws of life, but in the end, they got what what they came for: Steven Avery. Click here to read a resume of the main elements they made him confess to.
”We know something else was done…Something with her head.” Brendan responds with, ”Huh?” and other guesses like: ”That he cut off her hair.” ”That he punched her.”
They wanted Brendan to say that Teresa was shot in the head and after a while, detective Mark Wiegert whose interrogation was going nowhere, lost it and decided to plainly tell him that Teresa was shot in the head: ”All right, I’m just going to come out and ask you, who shot her in the head?’ to which Brendan replied ”He did”
They keep telling him that ‘they’ already know what happened, but he can tell them the truth. But every time he tries, they interrupt him to say no, this is not what happened, tell us the ‘truth’ now.
When they ask him to tell them the exact words his uncle used to tell him he raped Teresa, they do not get the words ‘fuck’ or ‘get some pussy’ they know Steven would have used. But as much as they try to reorient his thoughts, it is not leading results. His answers are all over the place, and any detective worth his salt would have put a term to this interrogation.
When it does not work according to their plan, they push and push to try to bring him to ‘their own reality”’ It is simply disgusting to hear them guide him through a rape he obviously never committed and to hear them implant these false images in his brain. They even try to make him involve Chuck Avery in the mix. At first, he is in the garage helping his uncle, and had nothing to do with Teresa. Then, they put him back inside the trailer and twist his arm until he is seeing her on the bed. When Brendan does not follow their lead, he makes up details as he goes along until he gets their approval. Their actions are such that this teen will never know what the truth is anymore. You can click here to read a Psychology Today article about implanting false memories.
On the video, you can see a teen with an intellectual disability making sounds with his water bottle until the cops come back from their long break to continue torturing and damaging him in order to get a confession. Meanwhile, he is under the impression that he is going back to school after the interview. This is the stuff nightmares are made of.
To get to Brendan, they used his 14-year-old cousin who told them that he was depressed, had lost a lot of weight and confessed to witnessing the crime.
She retracted the entire story at trial, and it is not difficult to imagine that they had used the same tactics with her as with Brendan to get what they needed to shamelessly interrogate him alone.
It turned out that he had only lost 10 pounds and was sad about losing a girlfriend. He was not eaten up by guilt, and as we can see in the interrogation video, he seems placid and non reactive. He is not affected at all by a murder he does not seem to have witnessed or be part of. He looks and sounds totally out of the loop during the interrogation. He is the poster boy for false confessions.
They built an entire case on their own opinion, and had Brendan confirm their theory every step of the way or make up details as he went along. The problem is that they obviously were not very bright, because none of the points they make him corroborate remotely correspond to the alleged crime scene. Their scenario is not even in the realm of possibilities. And some of the stories invented by Brendan are ridiculous: cutting her hair and putting it on the dresser, cutting her throat when no blood is found on the bed, her screaming for help when Steven is on the phone, burning her purse. The lack of tattoo on her stomach, the wrong description of the clothes she was wearing, the lack or presence of pubic hair. It sure sounds like pure hogwash.
You can click here to read the official transcript.
I have talked to lawyers and other legal professionals who said that they could not believe these coerced confessions were not thrown out, and it made them sick to their stomach. They had no right to treat him as an adult, and when you listen to Brendan’s conversations with his mom, you realize that she was lost at sea and even if she tried to fight, the system treated her as a nuisance and pushed her aside. In one segment, you can hear Brendan ask his mom what inconsistencies means, and neither of them has a clue. It says it all when he tells her that ‘they got to his head.’
The boy talks to the cops thinking he is going back to school and once in jail, wonders if he will be out in time for Wrestlemania. What they did to this boy is criminal.
“We have a 16-year-old who, while morally and legally responsible, was heavily influenced by someone that can only be described as something close to evil incarnate.”
As we ponder how this might have been allowed to happen, enters Len Kachinsky, a public defender brought in from Neenah, Wisconsin, to represent Brendan.
He is the guy who actually allowed the cops to talk to Brendan alone, after he had left him in the hands of an investigator he had hired supposedly for his defense, but who was basically there to get him to sign a written confession, complete with drawings of the murder to help in the prosecution of Steven Avery.
After this debacle of a trial, Kachinsky was decertified by the State Public Defender’s Office on the grounds that he allowed Dassey to be interviewed by authorities without legal representation.
He has since been recertified to represent low-income clients, but not the ones charged with first-degree homicide. He also had to admit that he should have arranged for another attorney to attend his client’s interview if he could not be there.
His excuse for not attending at the time, was that it was his final weekend of Army Reserve duty. He had no clue that it would come back to bite him where it really hurts.
It was clear from the beginning that instead of planning Brendan’s legal defense, Kachinsky was working on ”It’s Howdy Doody Time”. Every time he was on camera, he cracked his John Denver grin and seemed to revel in the limelight.
He sure sounded too happy for a guy working on a murder case. In court, he lied with a smile on his face about what he had told the press about Brendan and his uncle, which was unconscionable.
To help him defend/prosecute his client, our friend Howdy enrolled the help of an investigator named Michael O’Kelly.
You would think that the purpose of this was to save Brendan, but it is not how the story went. Instead, this pseudo expert was hired to seal and deliver a confession from his client with a blue ribbon on top.
The O’Kelly factor – Tie a blue ribbon round the ole display table
He was also a cell phone expert making statements about the technology in trials. In 2012, he was kicked out of a case for visiting the defendant, even after it had been found his testimony wouldn’t be needed.
He was among a small elite of a ”truth detecting technique,” called SCAN, which relied on exploiting linguistic deviations in statements. He claimed that his technique was more dependable than a polygraph. An example of his technique is that if one were to say, ”when I was a kid,” then that person was probably molested. Also, if you said the number 3, you were probably lying. He consulted on the Casey Anthony case.
Len Kachinsky basically hired O’Kelly to break Brendan Dassey. They both should have been tarred and feathered before being run out of town. Even if Brendan had a better defense team for his appeal, the damage was already done.
Even if O’Kelly’s polygraph examination proved to be inconclusive, he told Brendan that it showed deception. He made him sit in front of a table where he had spread out photos of Teresa’s bones, the memorial blue ribbon in front of the church and many other gruesome pictures.
He then proceeded to give him a questionnaire of his making, that was never used before in the history of a legal defendant, and ordered him to write his confession and put an X in the box saying he was sorry for his crime. After Brendan proceeded to write that he was innocent and to provide the real timeline confirmed initially by his mother, he was told in no uncertain terms to do it again because he was lying.
In my book, it is the worst moment presented in the documentary. And note to Kratz: this is a fact and not biased. What this man did is so despicable that you get a visceral reaction to it. He is supposed to be there to help this poor kid, and he is throwing him to the wolves.
The other repulsive moment gracieuseté of Michael O’kelly is when he is called to testify at trial and proceeds to cry on the stand when he sees the photos of the church with the blue ribbon. When asked to read the communication he exchanged with Kachinsky, he continues to shed tears, not about the monstrosity he is saying out loud, but because of the bloody blue ribbon. Not to take away from the tragedy of the murder of Teresa Halbach, but these proceedings were about the life of a teenager who risked spending the rest of his life in prison if innocent of the crime of murder.
I was livid when he said that they should cut down the Avery family tree, while trying to divert attention to something else. At that moment, the camera zoomed on Brendan’s mother and grandmother. They had to listen to a man who, instead of helping their boy, was saying that the whole family should be exterminated. What had they ever done to deserve this? And why should Brendan spend the rest of his life incarcerated for being part of that family tree?
‘I am learning the Avery family history and about each member of the Avery family. These are criminals. There are members engaged in sexual activity with nieces, cousins, in-laws.”
”This is truly where the devil reside in comfort. I can’t find no good in any member, these people are pure evil. A friend of mine suggested, this is a one branch family tree. Cut this tree down. We need to end this gene pool here.”
Sorry O’Kelly, but we will put a yellow ribbon round the ole Avery tree. No one can bring back Teresa, but these two men will come back home, to no fault of your own.
The murder of Teresa Halbach
On October 31, 2005, Teresa Halbach went on 3 assignments for Auto Trader, and the last one was assumed to be at the Avery’s Salvage yard to photograph a van owned by Steven Avery’s sister.
In a recorded message, she left a voicemail about her appointment at the yard and clearly asked them to call her back. Click here to listen to it. She says that she will arrive at 2:00 pm or a little later and to ring her back. The message was left on the answering machine of Barb Janda, Avery’s sister and Brendan’s mother.
The prosecution claimed that the voicemail proved a premeditated attempt to lure Teresa to the salvage yard and that Steven was obsessed with her. When Steven called Auto Trader at 8:30 am that morning, he did not disguise his voice to sound like a woman. He gave his sister’s name and phone number because it was her car, but she worked during the day so he had to be the one showing the van.
The address was the same, so Teresa knew she was going to the Avery Salvage Yard. There was no trickery involved. Avery did not request Teresa by name, and as stated by Jerry Buting ”She was the only photographer for Auto Trader for that whole area of the state. He didn’t say send Teresa Halbach, he said, send that woman you had out here to take pictures. We want another vehicle in your magazine.”
For a while, the cops believed that Teresa’s last visit was at the residence of the Zipperers. JoEllen Zipperer had called Auto Trader to get someone to come over to photograph her grandson’s car, and did not have a clue at what time she had arrived, but knew it was probably mid-afternoon.
When contacted by the police, the owner, George Zipperer, became very belligerent, lied several times about his activities, said he had never ordered a photographer, called Teresa a trespasser and threatened to unleash his dog on anyone daring to approach his property.
At trial, JoEllen Zipperer testified that she did not remember the time of Teresa’s visit, and it could have been at 3:00 pm. When she was reminded by the prosecution that it was at around 2:30 pm, she went with it.
She did not see Teresa leave and remembered that Teresa had left a message stating that she was still looking for the place and needed directions, but had not answered the call because she was working outside. There is a possibility that she went directly to the Avery’s yard when she did not hear back from JoEllen, and then to the Zipperer’s place afterwards.
Phone records indicate that Steven called Teresa’s cell phone on that day at 2:24 pm, and at 2:35 pm and used *67. He obviously was returning her call and probably wondered why she had not showed up yet. The last call is at 4:35 pm, without the *67 feature because by now, they had met and he probably thought it was alright if she saw his number. The defense explained at trial that Avery had another vehicle for sale and wondered if she could either come back or book another appointment. If he had killed her, calling her back would only have attracted attention to himself.
The prosecution says he was hiding his identity because he knew that Teresa was trying to avoid him because she was ‘scared of him’. How on earth would he have known that? It is not like Auto Trader would call him to say that their female photographer did not want to go there because he was sleazy. If they thought that anything improper had happened, they would have never asked Teresa to go on this assignment.
According to an Associated Press story published in 2007, the judge would not allow the Auto Trader receptionist, Dawn Pliszka, to testify about Halbach’s experience with Steven Avery. She had gone there 6 or 7 times in the past, and had told Pliszka that once, he had come out in a towel and she thought he liked her. According to Pliszka, they both laughed about it and Teresa said it was kind of ‘Eww.’
Kratz said that this was important evidence omitted from the documentary, but it was not admitted at trial. so they had no reason to include this 15 seconds conversation.
I think that by now, we all know that several women had a ‘Eww’ moment with the special prosecutor and it does not mean he wanted them dead. If asking for Auto Trader photography services and not being properly dressed is interpreted as an obsession, we are all in trouble. Teresa was a very attractive girl, but opening the door in a towel would not have been the way to her heart, and Steven never made a move on her. He was simply in and out of the pool that day. She never reported that she was terrorized by it. She found it funny and in poor taste, that is all.
Teresa Halbach’s sightings
A school bus driver named Lisa Buchner testified that she saw Teresa taking photos of the van at 3:40 pm. She had nothing to lose or to gain by lying and these drivers have to maintain a very rigid schedule. It also matches the time Brendan was let out of the bus. But the prosecutor tried to say that she had mixed up the dates. The witness knew it was around Halloween and Teresa was not there on any other day around that date.
Bobby Dassey who was Stevens’ nephew and Scott Tadych who was dating his sister, both said that they saw Teresa, but earlier, at around 2:45 pm. They both provided a timeline that went along with the state’s case, but their timeline contradicted the bus driver.
Dassey and Tadych gave each other an alibi by saying that their path crossed on the road when they were driving to their destination. Bobby said he passed Scott at around 3:00 pm.
Dassey said that he saw Teresa walk in the direction of Stevens’ trailer. According to Steven, “She came and took pictures of the car, she had done it before. She’s never been in my trailer, she came to the door to get money and left. I didn’t do it.”
It is obvious that if she was leery of the man, she would have never gone inside his trailer, and there is no evidence to the contrary.
Dassey and Tadych testified at trial and their testimony contradicted several facts they first told investigators. Tadych said he saw the bonfire that was 8 feet high, but had previously said it was 3 feet high. They should have been persons of interest from the start until they could be eliminated. One of them had scratches on his back he said were made by his dog.
Tadych had quite a history of violence with women. They were named as possible suspects in the appeal, but the defense was not allowed to raise the question at trial because the judge had ruled out the introduction of any third party reliability.
A propane delivery truck driver said he saw Teresa’s green SUV leave the Avery Yard in the afternoon between 3:30 pm and 4:00 pm. He didn’t know for sure if a man or woman was driving.
A couple called the police to say they had seen Steven Avery after 5:30 pm on that day, which would have eliminated the torture scenario and his involvement, but they were blatantly ignored. The two eye witnesses had gone as far as identifying the red and white jacket he was wearing.
Teresa was known to go very often on ‘hustle shots’ for Auto Trader, in order to make more commission. She could easily have been doing this before or after her last scheduled assignment.
Teresa’s RAV4 is found
It took a few days for Teresa’s roommate, family and friends to realize she was missing. A search started right away and soon became a dead end.
Her cell phone records indicated that she blocked a number on the day she disappeared and that a caller had been very persistent. Her former boyfriend said at trial that he guessed her password and checked her accounts. Some of her calls were deleted so we can only guess that he is the one who erased them, unless someone else had access to her password.
Looking at her cellular phone records, Steven Avery seemed to have been the least of her problems on that day. She had told a coworker that a guy was harassing her and it was not Avery. And you can bet that if he had contacted her in the past, the cops would have jumped on it.
The authorities should have investigated that aspect thoroughly instead of focusing solely on Avery.
On November 5, 2005, her SUV was found on the Avery Salvage Yard. A cousin of Halbach named Pam Sturm who was part of the volunteer search party suggested going to the Avery yard with her daughter, Nikole Sturm. She was given a map and after asking for permission to look around, she found the car in 30-35 minutes. She was a private detective and a car dealership owner. Some say it was too good to be true and that she was steered in that direction because the cops did not have the right to search. Avery’s lawyers expressed doubts about her lucky break, but I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.
She asked them to borrow a camera because most of the other volunteers had their own or their cell phones had the camera option, so I do not see this fact as suspicious. Finding the car so fast makes sense because of its location and the fact that Earl Avery testified that he pointed her in that direction.
It came out at trial that Chuck Avery had called his nephew Bobby Dassey late the night of Friday, Nov. 4, saying he had seen headlights down toward “the pit” and that Bobby and Steven went to the area to look for headlights, so it would be logical that if some people allegedly drove Teresa’s RAV4 on the premises to frame Avery, they would not have risked driving deep into the yard. This lane was the perfect spot to make sure it would be found.
It is interesting to note that Sturm was given permission to search the yard by Earl Avery who told police after the car was found that he knew the car was not there on October 31st “We drove right through there — where that car was supposed to be — and it wasn’t there…. We were rabbit hunting.” If he had seen the car, he would have never allowed her to search the area.
Click here to read a Rolling Stones’ article about the Avery’s neighbor seeing a Rav4 entering the yard.
The real clincher about this is that Sergeant Andrew Colborn had found the SUV 2 days earlier, and had called in to verify the plate. When asked about it at trial, he tried to wiggle out of it, but it was pretty obvious that the car had been found, and then moved to the Avery Salvage Yard. What I find unbelievable is that they did not subpoena his cell phone records to know where his phone was pinging when he called in the tag and who he called afterwards. It is pretty damning evidence.
What is even more interesting about Colborn is that he is the guy who had waited 8 years to write a report about a phone call notifying him that they had another suspect in custody who probably committed the rape Avery was incarcerated for. Colborn was also named in Avery’s lawsuit. When Manitowoc County was told to stay out of this investigation to avoid a conflict of interest, he volunteered with his buddy Lieutenant Lenk, also named in the lawsuit, to investigate the case. They were the last guys who should have been involved. So color me suspicious.
When asked about not writing the report, he sounded like the Ruffles commercial Eskimo who says ‘If I give one to you, I will have to give one to everybody else,” but there is no one else around. Colborn said he could not write a report about every call he received, but when asked how many other calls he received about this, he answered ‘None.‘
Teresa’s car key
Finding the SUV on the Salvage Yard allowed 200 cops to descend on the property on November 6, 2005. They searched Steven’s trailer 6 times before finding the mother lode of evidence: Teresa’s car key.
On search 7, after we saw photos of the room with no key to be found, the magic key was spotted. And guess who found it? Lieutenant Lenk.
Two days before Avery’s arrest, on November 7, he searched Steven Avery’s trailer with a Calumet sheriff’s deputy who had been instructed to watch him.
The next day, he searched the same area without a supervisor, and found Teresa Halbach’s key after his Manitowoc colleague, Andrew Colborn, had allegedly shaken the desk. The problem with this story is that photos of that same desk show that it was removed completely from its location before and thoroughly searched so no rattling would have dislodged a key.
On November 9, Steven Avery was arrested and initially charged with felony possession of a firearm. His own lawyer could not contact him because they would not tell him where he was incarcerated. They wanted to isolate Avery in spite of his legal right to an attorney. This is one of the reasons it infuriates me when Kratz talk about the documentary being biased and pro-defense. The bulldozer actions of the state speak for themselves.
On November 10, Kocourek, who was the Sheriff during Avery’s false imprisonment, and who would have had to testify at his civil trial, announced that the trial was now on hiatus. Avery had to settle the case for peanuts to pay for his legal representation.
It has to be said that the Insurance Company had refused to cover the lawsuit and that Manitowoc County would have been stuck with the bill if this blue collar guy ever won. And no doubt, some heads would have rolled.
At trial, Teresa’s sister, Katie Halbach, identified the lanyard and showed the jurors that the lanyard loop clasp clipped to the fob found at the trailer. The problem is that it did not look like the original key she would have kept with her other keys. It looked like the valet key.
It had Stevens’ touch DNA on it, which probably was simply from transfer, but nothing from Teresa. As if she could have held that key for years and not leave her prints and DNA on it, but Avery’s DNA would be there. It made no sense.
They never found Teresa’s other keys, but they had a photograph of Teresa holding a set of keys taken beside her RAV4. The valet key was either in her purse, left at home or with a friend or family member; which opens the door to a huge non-investigated can of worms.
The blood in Teresa’s RAV4
They found Teresa’s blood in the back of the car. According to the expert, it probably came from her hair being swiped over the surface of the car panel as she laid injured. A few stains and droplets of Steven’s blood were found in the car, but not his prints. At trial, the state said his finger was bleeding profusely in the car, but the key conveniently found in plain view in his room after 7 searches was blood free.
Someone would have to explain to me how you can bleed if you are wearing gloves. It is either one or the other: you bleed because you do not wear gloves and leave fingerprints behind or you leave no trace at all. Aside from the swipes of blood, the car was Avery free; leading us to believe that Avery was smart enough to wipe all evidence, but left obvious blood stains behind. It does not take Sherlock Holmes to deduct that it was planted.
We also have the matter of the log kept by the police guarding the RAV4 that showed inconsistencies as to who had access to the SUV and when. Who signed out, but had not signed in? Lieutenant Lenk.
The damages to Teresa’s car tell a story and it does not correspond to the scenario of the car being on the yard and simply moved and covered with debris. It could easily be because it was towed away after it ran into something.
The DNA on the latch of the hood
Kratz has been whining publicly because Making a Murderer did not include the fact that they found what he erroneously calls ‘sweat DNA’ on the latch of the hood.
It turns out that the technician who was searching Steven’s Grand Dam did not change his gloves before he subsequently searched Teresa’s SUV. It went nowhere in court. It was a simple case of transfer and nothing sinister as Kratz tried to portray. He must miss the old days of smoke and mirrors that worked so well for him in the backwoods.
The magic bullet
After several searches of the garage, and 4 months after the fact, a bullet fragment was found and a state DNA expert said it had Halbach’s remnants on it.
William Newhouse, a gun expert with the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, said he couldn’t conclusively link the bullet found in a crack in Avery’s garage to a .22-caliber rifle seized from his bedroom, but the bullet found under an air compressor was likely fired from it. Who had custody of the gun? The cops.
The state’s lab technician, Sherry Culhane, ran the test, but it was contaminated with her own DNA
At trial, she testified that it probably happened when she was talking during a training session with two people. They had kept the defense from participating in the test, but did not mind having trainees while examining this ‘important piece of evidence.’
It also came out at trial that agent Fassbender had told Culhane that she needed to ”place Halbach in the house or garage.”
This is a simple case of accidental or intentional transfer, and because the lab used all the sample, there is no exception to the rule: the test should have been declared inconclusive.
Need I say more about this non-bloody bullet fragment magically appearing in the garage while none were found in the pit or anywhere else? They seized 970 articles and not one showed any trace of Teresa’s presence.
Click here to read a report dating a few years, and where Sherry Culhane is mentioned for having falsified test results.
The blood vial
The defense did a good job at showing how an older vial of Avery’s blood had been kept unsecured at the Courthouse from his last case, and the box had been tampered with because the seal was broken, and it had been sloppily taped over. In a very Perry Mason moment, we saw in the documentary that the vial had a puncture mark on the lid.
The problem is that most of these older vial models came with a puncture hole on the cap, but Labcorp insisted that their vials did not have such an opening. It is essential to draw blood, but not if you submit the samples afterwards if the lab does not want people to use that kind of cap because of contamination. Whatever the story is, the vial was available and it opens the door to the possibility of the blood being planted in the car.
No one had signed in to have access to the blood, so something smells in Manitowoc. And our friend Lieutenant Lenk was tied to the chain of custody.
Because there was EDTA in the blood as a preservative, it was still liquid and usable so it could have been used to contaminate any surface.
Avery had a cut on his finger and the towels used to sponge his blood could have served to plant the bloody stains. His trailer was a real free for all for the cops during the multiple searches.
At trial, the prosecution had the FBI revive the EDTA testing not in use for more than a decade because of its dismal rate of success in order to convince the jury that the blood in Teresa’s RAV4 was not from the vial because it contained no EDTA. They only tested 3 swabs, and the results were debunked by the defense’s expert. I am shocked that the judge allowed in this kind of unreliable testing at all. And if you want to push the very conspiracy theory even further, it would have been easy to send 3 swabs of Avery’s blood taken from his Grand Am or his trailer to make sure no traces of EDTA were ever found.
Teresa’s remains found
A few days after the SUV was found, it was reported that human bones and teeth consistent with a young adult female were found in a burn pit near Steven Avery’s trailer. Let us not forget that 200 cops had taken over over the entire Avery complex for a week and had clear opportunity and motive to frame him.
The state declared that the DNA from a bone fragment conclusively matched Teresa Halbach’s DNA profile. Crime lab analyst Sherry Culhane testified that she could not state conclusively that all the bones were Teresa’s
She went on to testify that only 7 of 15 locations matched the known profile. Since it was not a complete match, some might say we cannot even be sure it was really Teresa. But the fact that her cell phone, camera and other identifying objects were also there, definitely supports the theory that it was her remains.
It would take hours to burn a body and have the bones broken down into tiny pieces; yet Brendan arrived at the bonfire at approximately 7pm, and Avery’s girlfriend, Jodi, called Steven at approximately 9pm, so he was already inside his room by then.
The state said that the presence of tires would act as a fire accelerant, but it would not have been sufficient.
A forensic anthropologist testifying for the defense stated that an open fire could not have reduced Teresa’s corpse to fragments, which was not mentioned in the documentary.
It flies in the face of Kratz’ theory that the filmmakers were working for the defense, and omitting important evidence only for the state.
Plus, where were her teeth and the bullets if she was shot in the head as stated at trial? They found root fragments that the dentist had to piece together to make a comparison.
Forensic dentist, Dr. Simley testified that no crowns were found. It is strange considering that teeth are harder than bones and usually last longer in a fire.
Bone fragments were found in three locations: the burn pit right outside Avery’s house, a burn barrel outside Brendan Dassey’s house and the quarry. This is evidence that bones were moved.
State’s alleged scenario of Teresa’s murder
As easy as it would have been to plant evidence on the Avery’s property, the investigators did not let go of their bone and continued constructing their sloppy murder scenario. After they could not harass Steven’s girlfriend anymore and ran her out town after she was released from jail for DUI, they enlisted the unwilling help of Brendan to create a scenario where poor Teresa had been tortured, stabbed, shot and raped in Steven’s bedroom. Or was it in the garage?
They even held a press conference stating these allegations before conducting any kind of serious investigation. It poisoned the jury pool for the upcoming trial and confirmed what O’Kelly was saying about reality from their perspective.They could not find a drop of blood or any DNA belonging to Teresa in the trailer or the garage, but they stuck to their unsubstantiated theories.
If Teresa had been killed in the bedroom or the garage, there would have been no need to put her in the SUV where her blood was found. Why they came up with these Edgar Poe stories is beyond me. They found fuzzy pink handcuffs bought for future sex games between Jodi and Steven, but they bore no trace of Teresa and they were not the torture shackles Kratz described in the media.
They brought dogs on the scene and they alerted on objects unrelated to Steven. Their best cadaver dog, a Belgian Malinois called Brutus certified to detect human remains , alerted twice on Teresa’s RAV4, but also alerted on other cars; meaning that it was trained to detect human remains, but not the scent of Teresa. A salvage yard is bound to have cars stained with blood, semen or other biological matters. It appears that Teresa’s dead body had been in her SUV, but nowhere else in the yard.
Brutus alerted in the trailer’s bathroom, but this is where they found drops of blood not related to Teresa, and the dog was trained to detect them. According to the trainer, it did not alert anywhere else in the trailer, and there was no reaction to the burn area either, but she said that it was because Avery’s dog, Bear, was in the way.
At trial, they explained the lack of findings at the fire pit by the dog squad and the officers by blaming Bear. The prosecution stated ” There’s the burn area that we’re talking about. That’s the burn area that contained the obvious human remains. You will see and you will hear from the officers who were at the scene, that this burn area, from the first night, was guarded, was guarded by Mr. Avery’s German Shepherd. I believe his name was Bear.” As if the dog was part of the plot to guard the remains and kept the dogs from sniffing anything.
Their theory of guilt by proximity was not very logical. Who would leave a body beside their home and plan to have their dog stop any kind of investigation? Instead, it is Brutus that was trained to tell the story, and he did by alerting at the SUV.
The pair of handcuffs found at Brendan’s house was not tainted either. Had they not seen Fifty Shades of Grey? The garage and the bedroom were dusty, messy and undisturbed. If shackles had been attached on the wooden headboard, there would have been marks from the struggle and the dust would have at least been disturbed. And the whole thing would probably have collapsed.
If you have a look at the headboard, it makes no sense that Teresa could have been ‘chained’ to the bed the way described by the cops. They could have been worn, but not tied to the bed. The mattress had no stains whatsoever after a woman was cut and tortured? Only in Manitowoc.
Kratz asked a lady he liked to wear the high heels of his choice for a lovely date at the site of an autopsy, and he thinks that pink fuzzy pairs of handcuffs mean murder? David Copperfield could not have killed a woman without leaving traces in the messy Avery trailer. They found Avery’s DNA all over the garage and his trailer. How could he erase Teresa’s and Brendan’s DNA, but keep only his? The man was a slob.
Steven’s phone calls to Jodi
They also conveniently dismissed the fact that Steven and his girlfriend, Jodi Stachowski, had chatted twice for 15 minutes on that day; at around 5:30 and 9:00 p.m.. If Teresa was being tortured and murdered, it could not have happened. Jodi would have heard the screams and Steven would not have been calm and matter of fact as heard on the conversations that were taped by the prison.
By the way, the Jodi who stayed behind to live in Steven’s trailer after he was arrested, and that we hear asking him to kiss her photo on the wall while he waits for her because she is in jail for DUI, is now all over HLN saying he is guilty and she never loved him.
We already know that Avery was never Prince Charming, but a boorish guy who could write horrible letters to his former wife from prison when he felt abandoned, or to Jodi when he thought that she took advantage of him financially before moving on. His entire adult life has been about loss and pent up anger so give me a break.
I personally expected the media to dredge that fish out of troubled water much sooner, and my only question is what took you so long?
Nancy Grace always resorts to character assassination. Does she think that inviting Avery’s former incarcerated girlfriend to badmouth him on camera will change the facts of the case or make the notion of reasonable doubt evaporate into thin air? Probably, because this is all she knows.
What took the legal cake is that at Steven’s trial, the state said the murder happened in the bedroom, but changed the location to the garage for Brendan’s trial. And they both were found guilty.
It sounds like Oklahoma where 3 men were all tried for shooting the one and only bullet that killed a victim, and it was allowed.
We need a revamping of the justice system, especially in such cases.
According to a juror who was dismissed because of an emergency, there were a few jurors ready to bully the others into a conviction and he felt intimidated. He regrets not being there to vote not guilty because he does not believe that the state proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Since the documentary came out, another juror contacted the filmmakers to tell them he/she felt threatened and figured that if they could frame Avery, they could do it to one of them or to a member of their family. The juror explained how they basically came down with a decision by bargaining for the charges. They would eliminate the mutilation of the corpse in exchange for a guilty vote. As if it made any sense or was remotely acceptable. They probably hoped that it would be noticed on appeal. It was not.
It is a small town mentality and it is not easy to go against the grain.
Verdicts and appeals
Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey were both crushed by the legal system and found guilty. They have exhausted their appeals and their sentences were upheld. I can understand what happened at the local level, but I am flabbergasted that the appellate court ignored the irregularities and inconsistencies of their wrongful convictions.
New legal representation
Kathleen Zellner is now assuming the full and complete representation of Steven Avery. She has won 16 exoneration in the past and is known for her commitment and dedication towards the clients she defends vigorously.
She recently said that ‘Whoever deleted Teresa Halbach’s cell phone calls is either the murderer or part of the cover up. Either way, the killer is free.” It is about time someone says it out loud.
Not that Steven’s attorneys Jerry Buting and Dean Strang were not as excellent as they were dignified, but they had to move on, and it is time for new eyes with a fresh view to take over the case.
It is going to be an uphill battle, but eventually, new tests could prove with scientific certainty that there was EDTA in the blood planted in the car or new witnesses could decide to speak up. There were so many loose ends in the investigation, that it is realistically possible to turn the case on its head.
Brendan also has new legal aid and reversing Steven’s verdict will automatically free him by osmosis.
Steven lost 18 years of his life and his wife and 5 children. He now has lost so much more. Brendan did not even have a chance to finish high school before he was snatched from his family with no hope for a bright future.
I do not believe that the entire police department or County conspired against them. It only takes a few bad apples with a lot to lose to get the ball rolling and it becomes easy for the ones convinced of his guilt to follow.
The authorities treated the Averys like disposable white trash. You only have to watch the video of the search of his trailer and listen to their comments to know how morally superior they felt.
I do not care if some members of that family have criminal records or if they married people within their close circles, nothing justifies slanting the scale of justice in your favor.
I wish someone would have told Steven in no uncertain terms to never come back to the area after his release. It is never a good idea to return to a community where law enforcement has it in for you.
But like most people released from prison, he had no money and nowhere else to go, and he was naive enough to think he could go home and get restitution. He did it at his own peril.
Steven and Brendan both had an intellectual disability and not unlike former President Bush, had problems grasping some concepts easily understood by most, like the ole ‘Fool me once, shame on … shame on you. Fool me… You can’t get fooled again!'”
When trusted criminals decide whose family tree they should cut down and think nothing of fabricating evidence to reach their goal, our society is in deep trouble. They were fooled once, twice…to no fault of their own, and they can’t get fooled again!
We will keep a yellow ribbon round the ole Avery tree because they deserve to come home, and they are still innocent until proven guilty.
1st UPDATE: A Federal Judge threw out Brendan Dassey’s conviction and ordered him released, unless within 90 days of the date of his decision, the state of Wisconsin initiates proceedings to re-try him. Click here to read the decision.
2nd UPDATE: Dassey’s release was blocked by appeals court. Click here to read about the order.
Click here to read the trial transcripts
Song written by Brendan’s older half-brother, Brad Dassey, who lost his job and so much more because of his family name