When Making A Murderer premiered in 2015, it helped kick off the true crime trend in pop culture. The Internet has become involved in the case, and almost everyone has an opinion on what really happened.
While most people are convinced Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey were framed, others questioned the documentary’s motive. The Netflix Original series brought attention to a case, a bunch of new information has been discovered. But will it be enough to free both gentlemen?
Who Is Steven Avery?
Avery was wrongfully convicted in 1985 of sexual assault and attempted murder. After 18 years of a 20-year jail sentence, he was exonerated thanks to DNA testing, leading to his release in 2003. He would go on to file a lawsuit against Manitowoc County, and its former sheriff, for $36 million.
In 2005, he was arrested for the murder of photographer Teresa Halbach and charged with the murder. She was last seen taking photos of a car for sale for Auto-Trade Magazine. After a two-year battle, Avery was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2007.
His Lawyer Spoke Out After The Court Denied His Latest Request
In December 2018, Avery’s lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, announced a new development in the Avery case. It was revealed that Zellner had asked Dr. Richard Selden, one of the world’s most respected DNA experts, for help.
He agreed to test the bones in the Manitowoc County Gravel Pit, should the court allow it. However, the request was denied by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. But, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for Avery. Zellner said to Newsweek, “The appellate court wants to resolve the issues on Avery’s current appeal before the new issue re: bone testing is addressed.”
Where Did The Bone Fragments Come From?
Since 2016, Zellner had been trying to get bone fragments. Her request for testing was approved, denied, and is now pending examination by the Court of Appeals. According to state law, evidence is kept until the defendant leaves prison..
Zellner said during an interview, “It isn’t just the pelvic bone, there are about 10 bones that were recovered from the quarry. By giving them to the Halbach family, they just confirmed they believe those bones are human. It’s a very sneaky way to get evidence destroyed.”
Steven Avery Has Won The Latest Motion In His Appeal
Avery’s attorney, Kathleen Zellner, shared the news on Twitter. This comes after the post-conviction lawyer revealed her latest theory around the case. It was based on the bone fragments found in the Manitowoc County Gravel Pit.
Recently, Zellner made moves to have testing done on this piece of evidence, only to see if they were all human, and belonging to the victim Teresa Halbach. She believes that the Attorney General’s Office has been trying to deceive Avery by hiding this forensic evidence.
Avery Being Granted A Motion Means One Thing
Zellner says that the bones were not tested for DNA, and returned to Halbach’s family. That’s a violation of state law.
If the bones belong to Teresa Halbach, Zellner argues that it goes against the prosecution’s argument that she was killed at Avery’s car salvage yard in Wisconsin where her remains were originally discovered a week after she went missing. The lawyer said, “This evidence has the potential to undo the whole case, so it is a big win.”
What Happens Now?
With evidence concerning bones now able to be submitted, there’s the possibility of a second trial. At a new trial, new evidence could be presented and Zellner’s team could name new potential suspects as potential killers of the deceased photographer; as seen in Part 2 of the Netflix series.
One major piece of evidence could come from forensic testing. A bullet was found in Avery’s garage that contained blood splatter. “Flakes” were also found in Halbach’s Toyota.
Has Bobby Dassey Been Arrested?
Part 2 featured revelations about Bobby, which was explosive. The new episodes introduced new evidence in Avery’s case. Any new persons of interest named must follow the stipulations in a 1984 case heard in the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin.
An attorney must show a motive, opportunity, and evidence that connects that particular subject to the crime. Having taken over the case in 2016, Zellner made it clear she would be following the evidence, as well as the science, which led her right to Bobby.
Avery’s Trial Saw Him Called As A Key Witness
Viewers were first introduced to Bobby in Part 1. As a key witness to the trial, he testified for the prosecution. He asserted that he had witnessed Halbach arriving on the Avery property, where he saw her taking photographs.
Additionally, he then claimed he had witnessed her “walking over” to Avery’s trailer and that he didn’t see her leave the property. Now, Zellner has claimed that he lied on the stand. The lawyer has an affidavit from another witness who undermines the version of events Dassey told at the trial.
The Witness Was Bobby’s Brother
Bryan Dassey claims that Bobby told him that he had seen Teresa leave Avery’s salvage yard after finishing her photography job. Bryan has said this constantly since 2005, which is the time when Teresa went missing. However, neither the prosecution nor the defense called him to testify at the trial.
While this evidence justifies suspicion of Bobby, it was about to get much more interesting. Zellner revealed in one episode that her team had access to evidence from the hard drive of Bobby’s computer.
It’s Not New Information
After they reinterviewed him, Zellner’s investigators said that Bobby became “unbelievably rattled” when they mentioned evidence obtain from the computer in his bedroom. It’s not exactly new information, but the police had a search warrant and they seized the computer in 2006.
Tom Fassbender, the lead investigator on the case, handed it over to detective Mike Velie for forensic examination. Results of testing was shared in Part 2 of the documentary. It detailed disturbing and violent adult entertainment imagery within the search history.
That Incriminating Information Was Not Turned Over To Avery’s Defense Team
Since it never reached the team, it appears it went somewhere else. Prosecutor Ken Kratz hid it, mislabeling the drive as Brendan’s. The entire time he kept the CD with the findings.
The report could have served to help the defense in Avery’s trial. That could have offered a way for them to discredit the prosecution’s big witness while also providing a Denny suspect. In light of this evidence, many have questioned if Bobby was arrested or imprisoned for the contents of the computer.
Has Brendan Been Released?
It’s no secret that Brendan and his uncle Steven have been appealing the convictions since 2011. There might have been a moment of confusion over whether or not Brendan was actually released- despite the rejection of his appeal in June 2018. A US federal court ordered that he should be released from prison.
That led to Manitowoc County prosecutors appealing the federal court’s decision, which was granted then heard on September 26, 2017. The U.S. Supreme Court has so far refused to take his case.
Let’s rewind to August 2016. A year and a half after Part 1 was released, a federal magistrate, William Duffin, granted Dassey’s petition for writ of habeas corpus, which allows an individual to claim that their detention or imprisonment is unlawful.
Dassey’s confession was indeed deemed as involuntary by Duffin, with Wisconsin given three months to decide whether to retry or release him. The State of Wisconsin appealed the ruling, claiming the confession was “coerced by investigators and that no one reasonable court could have concluded otherwise, is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law.” In episode five, this moment plays out from the point of view of those involved.
While Zellner Visits The Avery Property, Steven’s Brother Takes A Personal Phone Call
While she’s visited to investigate one aspect of Dassey’s case, Chuck Avery, who assisted her, took a personal phone call. When he returned he hand Zellner his phone, “I just found out something. This is Carla, my daughter. Brendan’s getting released…” Kathleen then took the phone.
Carla explained over the phone to Zellner that Judge Duff’s decision had just come out online and that she believed Brendan was going to be released. But would their optimism backfire?
Brendan Wasn’t Actually Released
Before Dassey could be released, emergency documents were filed by prosecutors. Additionally, he was ordered to stay in prison pending the outcome of an appeal. Then, the case was put before the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circut. Standing in front of the court, they presented their arguments.
The State would push back once more and in December 2016, the judges of the Seventh Circut voted in favor of upholding Dassey’s conviction. They found that his confession was properly attained by the police.
Prosecutors Actually Attempted To Stop The Documentary From Being Made
The State’s camp wasn’t pleased by the contents behind the series. After part one was released, the prosecution attempted to file a subpoena to freeze the rest of Moira Demos’ and Laura Ricciardi’s project.
Additionally, former Calumet County District Attorney, Ken Kratz, alleged in the subpoena the women were acting as an investigative arm of the defense. Riccardi explained to The Independent, “We brought the motion to quash the subpoena, refuting Mr. Kratz’s accusations as baseless.”
According To Kratz, The Evidence Was Left Out
After Part 1 hit the streaming service, Kratz gave a series of interviews claiming that it was biased. He claimed there was misinformation throughout the program and stated that certain facts of the case were left out.
He mentioned the now-infamous “sweat DNA” found on the car’s hood, and the idea that Avery had dialed Halbach from a withheld number prior to the murder. In an interview with USA Today Network, he doesn’t think the series was balanced. “The audience is never told that attorney Zellner’s ‘new evidence’ was little more than junk science.”
The Past Allegations Behind Avery
Another criticism towards the series is past allegations against Avery. Kratz asked the documentarians to remind the audience about some awful acts Avery had committed against cats. That was merely touched on at the very beginning of the documentary.
However, Kratz has argued that Avery told a different story of the events, and said he had been “young and stupid” for his actions. Avery was open about his criminal record, including two burglaries, but Kratz did bring attention to sexual assault allegations, which Avery was never prosecuted for.
There Were Fingerprints On The RAV4
One thing the prosecutors and the defense agree on is that Avery’s blood was found in Halbach’s Toyota. However, they disagree on how it came to be there. During the initial trial it was argued the blood was proof of Avery’s guilt and linked him to the crime.
Nevertheless, the defense has maintained that this evidence was simply planted. Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, Avery’s original defense team, theorized that a vial of blood kept in storage had been taken and used to tamper evidence.
What Wasn’t Presented In The Documentary
The documentary never mentions that the car has since been checked for fingerprints. But, how did they get there? Kathleen Zellner believes that the blood stains in the car are probably the biggest piece of evidence against Avery.
In episode one of Part 2, the lawyer enlisted the help of Stuart James, a bloodstain pattern expert. She provided him with all of the photographs from the scene for analysis. The findings were particularly interesting because the blood next to the steering wheel, as the prosecution argued, would have come from a cut on Avery’s finger.
Stuart James Joined Dr. Larry Blum To Analyze The Blood Patterns
James was joined by the Forensic Pathologist to analyze the blood patterns in an attempt to conclude what actions might have caused them. Zellner’s experts seemed troubled by the lack of blood on the car key, which was found under suspicious circumstances on the floor of Avery’s trailer.
Interestingly enough, Dr. Blum said that it’s “inexplicable” for the blood spatter, found in eight different spots within the car, to have come from a source of active bleeding, disputing what Kratz argued in court.
The DNA On The Hood Latch
Finding his DNA on the hood latch was a hotly-consisted piece of evidence from Part 1 that seemed to play a significant part in convincing the jury of Avery’s guilt. In Part 2, forensic DNA consultant, Dr. Karl Reich, concluded that “You can’t test for sweat.”
Additionally, he explained that the only four bodily fluids that can be tested are blood, saliva, semen, and urine. During Zellner’s recreation, the DNA was left by test subjects who opened the hood latch on an identical car was minimal.
The area was briefly mentioned in Part 1, but it was featured more in Part 2. Cadaver dogs are often used to search areas in cases where a dead body is likely to be spotted. The dogs went in the opposite direction of Avery’s property as they headed into the quarry.
There, they circled the gravel pit adjacent to Avery’s property and ended up where the car was originally found. The quarry was barely mentioned in the trial.
The Damage To Teresa’s Car
The Avery’s had parked vehicles horizontally across the gap to stop access. However, Zellner explains that by analyzing the photographs from the scene and talking to witnesses, the cars had been moved.
What’s more interesting is the damage to Teresa’s car. The car light, found in the boot, is believed to have occurred when pushing the Pinto bumper-to-bumper and out of sight. Avery’s new defense team believes that the “brown smudge” that’s visible on that car light is consistent with the damaged car previously used the block the break in the Berm.
The Blood In The Sink
Steven’s been firm that there would be an opportunity for someone to take blood from his bathroom sink in order to frame him. The theory came into play in Part 2, and since 2005, Avery’s claim is that he was bleeding after he cut his finger.
He bled on the bathroom floor and in the sink. When he left his trailer with his brother Chuck, he then reported seeing tail-lights near his home. The next morning the blood was mysteriously gone.
Ryan Hillegas soon became a person of interest for the defense. The ex-boyfriend to Halbach noted that during the original investigation, he was never asked for an alibi and never gave one. In a oddly time turn of events, he moved in with Theresa right after the murder, putting Hillegas in a prime position to access evidence.
He was the one who told investigator’s that Teresa’s car had been damaged previously to her murder. Additionally, he claimed that she had filed an insurance claim but kept the cash and didn’t repair the parking light.
What’s Item FL?
Brendan Dassey’s highly-contested confession detailed Avery “shooting” Halback. That’s something he first says happened outside the trailer, but he later placed it in the garage. Eventually, investigators found a “lead bullet fragment” in the garage.
The evidence was said to be consistent enough with the bullet having passed through Teresa’s skull, causing her death. Zellner then took the exemplar bullets to Chris Palenik, a forensic microscopist. The bullet found in the garage, labeled item “FL” did not pass through the skull.
A New Eye Witness
Zellner took her next opportunity to introduced a new eye witness. She said the witness reached out to her because he had been”bothered by something for a long time.” The man was a local truck driver, and claimed he’d seen Habach’s car days before it was found.
The witness also claimed that he had told a Manitowoc officer where it was. Having watched Part 1, the witness identified that officer to be Sergeant Colburn, but no police report was ever written up.
Andrew Colburn Denies The Allegations
Netflix and the filmmakers behind the series are being sued for defamation. In December 2018, the former police sergeant filed a suit saying the documentary tried to show he framed Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey by suggesting he planted key evidence at the Avery salvage yard.
According to The Wrap, the lawsuit states “Neither plaintiff nor any other law enforcement officer planted evidence or in any other way attempted to frame Avery or Dassey for Halbach’s murder.”
Brendan’s Stepfather Cleared The Air
That same truck driver reached out to Scott Tadych about Teresa’s car, but it never went further. Zellner later found out that Teresa’s car was actually seen by Tadych’s property. Tadych testified that he had seen Bobby on the very same road as the alleged car sighting while he was hunting deer behind his trailer.
With all the new evidence out there, no one seems close to a conclusion on what really happened. Whether or not Avery is innocent or not, it’s becoming more clear that there’s a number of holes in the case against him.