by John Taylor

Netflix delivers a must-see documentary with Making a Murderer. Is it biased? Does it leave out evidence? Yes and yes, but comprehensive and neutral are not what make a great and compelling documentary. Making a Murderer highlights material flaws regarding how many police, prosecutors, and others in authority operate within our judicial system. It begs the question, is the system tilted too far in one direction?

avery17On July 29, 1985, Penny Beernsten was jogging on the beach along Lake Michigan. A stranger grabbed her, dragged her to a nearby wooded area, and sexually assaulted her. When she described her assailant to a Manitowoc County [Wisconsin] Sheriff Deputy, he thought the description sounded like Steven Avery, a local man with a criminal record.

A police sketch artist drew a composite sketch of the perpetrator, but he likely drew the sketch from Steven Avery’s previous mug shot rather than from the victim’s description. Penny Beernsten was shown the sketch and then provided a photo array of possible perpetrators. She picked out Steven Avery and again identified Avery as her assailant during a live line-up. Beernsten’s identification was confident and emphatic.

There was no physical evidence tying Steven Avery to the crime scene or the sexual assault. Regardless, the police arrested Avery based on the victim’s eyewitness identification. At trial, Avery presented over 10 alibi witnesses, including a store clerk who stated Avery was at his store shortly after the attack occurred. For Avery to have been the perpetrator, he had to walk a mile to the nearest parking lot, drive home, load his family into their car [his family was also present at the store], and drive 45 minutes to the store in just over an hour’s time. However, the prosecution successfully refuted the alibi witnesses and demonstrated that Avery could have covered that distance in the allotted time. Based almost exclusively on eyewitness testimony, the jury found Steven Avery guilty of rape, and he was sentenced to 32 years in prison.

avery10In 2003, DNA testing of 13 hairs that were recovered from Penny Beernsten’s assault linked the rape to Gregory Allen, thus exonerating Steven Avery. Avery was released from prison in September of 2003. During the time Avery was in prison, the actual perpetrator, Gregory Allen, raped another woman.

After serving 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Steven Avery initiated a civil lawsuit against Manitowoc County and several individuals. During the initial investigation, the police had another suspect in mind, but they chose not to show Beernsten his picture. The police avery5worried it might confuse her. The alternative suspect was Gregory Allen, who was known to law enforcement because he had committed another sexual assault on the same strip of beach where the Penny Beernsten attack occurred.

Sergeant Andrew Colborn of the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office received a phone call in 1995 from a police officer in another county. During the call, the officer told Colborn that Gregory Allen confessed to Penny Beernsten’s rape. Sergeant Colborn told Lieutenant James Lenk, also of Manitowoc County, of the call, but no one acted on this information. There was no documentation of the call until September 12, 2003; the day after Steven Avery was released. On that day, Lenk instructed Colborn to write a report on the 1995 phone call. This information was not discovered until Avery’s civil lawsuit.

avery9As initial depositions were taken for Avery’s $36 million wrongful-conviction, civil lawsuit against various Manitowoc County and several sheriff’s deputies, he became the prime suspect in a homicide. Teresa Halbach, a photographer for Auto Trader Magazine, went missing on October 31, 2005. Her last confirmed destination was the sprawling, 40 acre Avery Auto Salvage yard where she met Steven Avery to take a photograph of a vehicle for sale. After they were unable to locate her for several days, Teresa’s family reported her missing. On November 5, 2005, search volunteers found Teresa’s vehicle [Toyota Rav-4] hidden behind debris among thousands of cars in the salvage yard on the Avery property.

With Steven Avery’s pending $36 million civil lawsuit against Manitowoc County and several of its officers, there was a very clear and obvious conflict of interest. As a result, once Halbach’s Rav-4 was found on Avery’s property, Manitowoc County District Attorney, Mark Rohrer, requested that the investigation be turned over to the authorities in neighboring Calumet County. The Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office was not to be involved in Teresa Halbach’s missing person investigation or any derivative thereof.

avery16Based on the discovery of the Rav-4, the police obtained search warrants for the property and various buildings and houses located nearby. On November 6, 2005, Teresa Halbach’s remains were found in a fire pit on the Avery property. The police also found two weapons linked to Steven Avery; and as a result, arrested him on November 9, 2005 for possession of a firearm by a felon.

As the search of the Avery property continued, police collected additional circumstantial evidence against Steven Avery with regard to Teresa Halbach’s murder. Police discovered Steven Avery’s blood inside the Rav-4. While searching Steven Avery’s bedroom, police also found Teresa’s Rav-4 key, later determined to have Avery’s DNA on it. During a later search, police found a bullet casing in a garage on the Avery property with Teresa Halbach’s DNA on it.

It is not clear how assurances that Manitowoc County would not be involved in the Halbach investigation were completely disregarded and ignored. Regardless, Manitowoc County Sheriff’s deputies were present on the day the Rav-4 was found and during all of the searches of the Avery property and buildings. Further, almost every critical and compelling piece of evidence against Steven Avery was found by a Manitowoc County Sheriff’s deputy. The appearance of impropriety emanated from the investigation. Why were individuals who had been deposed as part of Steven Avery’s civil lawsuit collecting evidence against him?

avery13Investigative bodies are supposed to be disinterested in the outcome or direction of a criminal investigation. Even under the best of circumstances, police officers have engaged in dishonest activities that materially affected judicial outcomes. However, Manitowoc County’s blatant disregard for how their involvement would be perceived, significantly and adversely impacted the impartiality and credibility of the evidence collected.

To further muddy the waters, two men who were specifically named in Avery’s civil lawsuit, Sergeant Andrew Colborn and Lieutenant James Lenk, found key pieces of evidence. Both men had significant motivation to incriminate Steven Avery. Avery’s arrest for murder would impair his credibility in the lawsuit. However, Avery’s arrest resulted in a far better outcome: he was forced to settle the lawsuit for a fraction of what he was seeking [$400,000], in order for him to pay his legal defense.

Colborn and Lenk clearly recognized the perception issue and conflict of interest they were engaging in. So it begs the question, why were they searching Steven Avery’s house and property for evidence? Their involvement could have compromised the entire investigation and possibly allowed a killer to go free. Based on their role in preventing Avery from getting out of prison years earlier and their prominence in the civil lawsuit, their actions should be viewed skeptically, as they would benefit materially from Steven Avery’s undoing.

avery7When the police initially searched a garage on the Avery property, eleven .22 shell casings were found. After several other searches and almost six months later, an additional .22 shell casing was located in the same garage containing trace amounts of Teresa Halbach’s DNA. Due to the small amount of DNA recovered, only one sample could be tested. During the testing process, the technician contaminated the sample with her own DNA. Though according to protocol, the technician should have reported the results as “inconclusive,” she ignored standard procedures and concluded the DNA sample matched Teresa Halbach.

Finding Teresa Halbach’s DNA on a bullet casing implied that Steven Avery shot her while in the garage. However, the police did not find a single drop of blood or even a hair follicle from Halbach in the garage. Further, there was no blood anywhere in the garage, including the cracks in the concrete floor, which would have been nearly impossible (certainly improbable) for Avery to clean up.

The Rav-4 key police found in Steven Avery’s bedroom was discovered in plain view. Yet, his small bedroom had been searched six times prior and no one saw the key. The officers present claimed the key fell from behind a desk after one of them shook it.

Police found Steven Avery’s blood in the Rav-4. Suspecting the police may have planted the blood evidence, Avery’s attorneys pulled Steven Avery’s blood evidence (vial) from his 1985 rape case file. When the county clerk presented the box containing the vial, the evidence tape had been cut and replaced with plain tape. No one had signed the evidence form indicating they opened it. An unknown person had opened the box containing Avery’s vial of blood. When the attorneys viewed the vial, they noticed a pin hole in the top of the vial, which the testing agency claimed they would not have done. It was also later determined that Manitowoc County officers had access to the evidence room.

avery19Initially, Steven Avery had a partial alibi in his 16 year-old nephew, Brendan Dassey. The investigators who talked to Dassey, Tom Fassbender and Mark Wiegert, were not Manitowoc County Sheriff’s deputies. Fassbender worked as an investigator for Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation and Wiegert was a sergeant with Calumet County Sheriff’s Department. These two investigators interviewed Dassey several times. Dassy was reported to have a 70 I.Q. and his reading proficiency was well below average. [Steven Avery was also reported to have a 70 I.Q.] From viewing interviews and reading transcripts, it is quite evident that Dassey lacked basic intelligence and social skills, though he mainly came across as shy and lacking in confidence. Regardless, the investigators guided him through numerous confessions involving Teresa Halbach’s murder.

The investigators bullied and lied to Dassy. [It is acceptable for police to lie to witnesses and suspects.] Dassey’s incriminating statements appeared to be nothing more than a regurgitation of information provided by the detectives. Many of Dassey’s statements to police implicate Steven Avery in the murder of Teresa Halbach. However, at one point during the documentary Dassey is seen asking him mom what the word “inconsistent” means and then admitted his answers were guesses at what the police were trying to uncover.

The interviews of Brendan Dassey consisted of two adults in positions of authority leading a young boy with low-intelligence to their desired outcome. He was helpless to their persuasion. At one point during an interview, Dassey described how he and Steven Avery raped and stabbed Teresa Halbach on his uncle’s bed and then killed her in the garage. Yet, there is zero forensic evidence to substantiate these assertions. As one of Avery’s attorneys stated, “It simply could not have happened the way Dassey described it.” Though many of Dassey’s statements are incriminating for both him and Avery, it is hard to place much emphasis on his “confessions.” With the deliberate leading of Dassey by the investigators, his low IQ, and his ever-changing stories, there is little reliable information to be gleaned from his hours of interviews. However, the police perceived these interviews as additional proof of Avery’s guilt, though ultimately the prosecution decided not to use any of Dassey’s statements against Steven Avery.

avery14Based on his incriminating statements, the detectives arrested Dassey on March 3, 2006. At that point, he was assigned a public defender by the name of Len Kachinsky. Prior to even talking to his client, Kachinsky held a press conference where he essentially acknowledged that Dassey was guilty. Kachinsky’s next step was to allow this minor, with below average intelligence, to be interrogated again by police detectives outside of his presence. It is hard to conjure up any justification for allowing this “interview” to take place. As if Kachinsky had not violated enough of his client’s rights, he hired an investigator, Michael O’Kelly, to also interrogate Dassey.

During the interrogation, O’Kelly directed Dassey to confess to killing Teresa Halbach; ordered him to draw pictures of the killing, and then called Kachinsky to boast about the confession. As if his professional judgment (and that of Kachinsky’s) could not diminish any further, O’Kelly video-taped the entire interview session. It has never been made clear why Dassey’s own investigator strong-armed him into a taped murder confession.

avery1Due to the conflicts of interest between Steven Avery and Manitowoc County, Ken Kratz, a special prosecutor, was brought in from Calumet County. After one of Brendan Dassey’s confessions, Kratz held a press conference detailing how Teresa Halbach was tortured, sexually assaulted and raped by Dassey and Avery. Kratz’ statements seemed to rob both Avery and Dassey of the presumption of innocence and potentially corrupted the pool of jurors. Kratz’s statements were inflammatory and prejudicial. Further, none of the information he provided to the public was presented during Steven Avery’s trial.

Steven Avery’s trial was moved to neighboring Calumet County. However, other than the prosecutor who was from Calumet County, everyone else came from Manitowoc County. The presiding judge, Patrick Willis, was a Manitowoc County Circuit Court Judge and the jurors were Manitowoc County residents. On March 18, 2007, Steven Avery was found guilty of murder and illegally possessing a firearm, but not guilty of mutilating a corpse.

After Avery’s conviction, Ken Kratz set his sights on Brendan Dassey. Aside from Dassey’s own words, and depending on which of his statements were believed, there was no forensic evidence linking Brendan Dassey to Teresa Halbach’s murder. This is not to say he is innocent; however, if you remove the forced confessions, there is no evidence pointing towards his guilt. Regardless, Brendan Dassey was found guilty of first-degree murder, mutilation of a corpse, and sexual assault on April 25, 2007.

Recent investigations by various news outlets have uncovered information about the Avery jury. Allegedly, one of the jurors was the father of a Manitowoc County Sheriff’s deputy and another was married to a Manitowoc County clerk. One juror claimed that jurors feared reprisal by the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department if they returned a not guilty verdict. Most troubling about the jury, when one juror was asked why he voted guilty, he cited evidence that was excluded from the trial, but was present in Kratz’s televised press conference.

avery15Manitowoc public officials ignored the obvious appearance of impropriety when they pursued Steven Avery as a murder suspect. When Teresa Halbach’s Rav-4 was found, Lieutenant Lenk of Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department arrived at the Avery property before there was even a sign-in sheet for the crime scene. He had access to the vehicle, which was later found to contain Steven Avery’s blood. Lieutenant Lenk found the Rav-4 key in Steven Avery’s bedroom. Further, Lenk was in the garage when the police found the bullet casing with Halbach’s DNA on it, after numerous other searches failed to uncover the casing.

Lieutenant Lenk had the means, motive, and opportunity to plant evidence incriminating Steven Avery. However, there is no clear or direct evidence indicating he or anyone else from the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department tampered with evidence. Yet, due to their conscious decision to be directly involved in Steven Avery’s investigation, they left themselves justifiably open to the accusation. The cloud of suspicion grows with the coincidental facts that almost all of the compelling forensic evidence collected on the Avery property was discovered by Lieutenant Lenk.

Though there is considerable evidence against Steven Avery, much of the evidence ties to the 40 acre property itself, rather than specifically to Steven Avery. The location where Teresa’s car and remains were found and her DNA on a bullet casing in a garage do not point directly to Steven Avery, but rather someone living or working on the property. Numerous other family members lived on the property and several had reputations and histories that should have warranted closer law enforcement scrutiny. Regardless of the fact that the initial evidence pointed toward a location rather than a specific person, Manitowoc County exhibited tunnel vision with regard to Steven Avery.

avery8By providing compelling evidence that Manitowoc County deputies likely planted evidence, Steven Avery’s attorneys may well have sealed his guilt. Jurors may have realized exactly how far the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department was willing to go in order to administer retribution. They had already helped put Steven Avery in prison for 18 years for a crime he did not commit. With the support of The Innocence Project, considerable favorable media coverage, and two of the best lawyers in Wisconsin, Steven Avery was still facing murder charges. When Manitowoc County’s Sheriff was asked about the accusations of planting evidence, he responded that, “it would have been easier to kill Steven Avery.” Jurors had to be thinking about what would happen to them if they made Manitowoc County look bad again.

Though Steven Avery’s innocence is far from certain, through actions and poor decision-making by individuals in the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department, there is clearly reasonable doubt. It is reasonable to think Manitowoc County may have done something unprincipled. It is reasonable to believe Manitowoc County may have sought vengeance against Steven Avery, even if only to ensure his guilt.

avery4Brendan Dassey was not a victim of Manitowoc County, but of over-aggressive police tactics. Dassey is not a credible witness, not even against himself. Without corroborating evidence, there is significant doubt regarding his guilt. However, just because there is doubt does not mean he is innocent. It just does not meet the legal standard. The detectives who interviewed him twisted and turned his mind so much that he probably does not know or remember what he actually did on the night Teresa Halbach went missing.

The real injustice falls upon Teresa Halbach’s family and friends. They must cling to the belief that the persons responsible for Teresa’s murder were held accountable, but they too must have doubts, due to the highly questionable decisions and actions by the authorities in this case. Judgments regarding Avery and Dassey’s guilt or innocence are far from a certainty, but the means which law enforcement utilized to achieve their convictions can and should be judged negatively and suggest a disturbing degree of impropriety that cannot be justified.
Works Cited:

Abad-Santos, Alex, and Lopez, German, “Netflix’s ‘Making a Murderer:’ the case of Steven Avery, explained,” Vox, http://www.vox.com/2016/1/8/10734268/netflix-making-a-murderer-avery, January 23, 2016.

Beernsten, Penny, The Forgiveness Project, http://theforgivenessproject.com/stories/penny-beernsten-usa/, March 29, 2010.

Cleasby, Sam, “The 12 WTF moments in ‘Making a Murderer,’” Metro, http://metro.co.uk/2016/01/05/the-12-most-wtf-moments-in-making-a-murderer-5600879/, January 5, 2016.

Grubbs, Jefferson, “This ‘Making a Murderer’ Timeline Shows Steven Avery’s Long History With Law Enforcement,” Bustle, http://www.bustle.com/articles/133321-this-making-a-murderer-timeline-shows-steven-averys-long-history-with-law-enforcement-infographic, January 21, 2016.

Kertscher, Tom, “’Making a Murder’ compelling, but is it a game-changer for Steven Avery?” Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/making-a-murderer-compelling-but-is-it-a-game-changer-in-steven-avery-case-b99647809z1-364794271.html, January 10, 2016.

Nededog, Jethro, “’Making a Murderer’ Prosecutor Admits 2 Crucial Mistakes in the Case Against Steven Avery,” Business Insider, http://www.businessinsider.com/making-a-murderer-prosecutor-mistakes-2016-1, January 5, 2016.

Thomas, Michael, “Looking at the ‘Evidence’ in the Steven Avery case,” Exposing the Truth, http://www.exposingtruth.com/looking-at-the-evidence-in-the-steven-avery-case/, December 29, 2015.

Thompson, Christie, “Penny Beerntsen, the Rape Victim in ‘Making a Murderer,’ Speaks Out,” The Marshall Project, https://www.themarshallproject.org/2016/01/05/penny-beernsten-the-rape-victim-in-making-a-murderer-speaks-out#.7ENv3kVHF, January 5, 2016.

Innocence Project, Steven Avery, http://www.innocenceproject.org/cases-false-imprisonment/steven-avery.

Making a Murderer, Netflix, December 18, 2015, https://www.netflix.com/title/80000770.

Reddit Inc., https://www.reddit.com/r/MakingaMurderer/comments/41rre7/steven_avery_jury_trial_transcripts_are_now/accessed January 2016.

WSAW Staff, “Steven Avery case: What did the court documents say?” WSAW, http://www.wsaw.com/content/news/Steven-Avery-case-What-did-the-court-document-say-364171451.html, January 5, 2016.

 

Click below to view John W. Taylor’s previous intriguing posts:

The Deep Sleeper – Darlie Routier’s Plight for Innocence

Drew Peterson – A Legend in His Own Mind

Not How It Was Supposed To Go: Joanna Madonna and the Murder of Jose Perez

johntJohn W. Taylor writes in the true crime genre at www.truecrimewriting.com. He has written short pieces and articles on the death of Marilyn Monroe, JFK, and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others.  John wrote and published Umbrella of Suspicion: Investigating the Death of JonBénet Ramsey and Isolated Incident: Investigating the Death of Nancy Cooper in 2012 and 2014, respectively. 

John’s interest in the darker side of human nature has compelled him to conduct numerous research and writing projects on various unsolved crimes.  He currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

 

59 Responses to “Making a Murderer” Sparks Public Outrage (as well it should)

  1. Max Myers says:

    Excellent piece, Mr. Taylor. I, too, watched the series and was left with no doubt that Avery was framed, and that Dassey was railroaded by the coppers and yes, the judge.

    I had to laugh when the Rav4 was conveniently “found”at the back of the premises, not far from a crusher. Surely Avery, had he committed the crime, would he simply have not crushed the vehicle and sold it off for scrap, to end up in China, as many junk cars do? And as for the burn pit, there’s a furnace on site, so why not simply use it to destroy the body. No logical answer, of course, unless you’re out the frame someone.

    The blood? Oh, the blood, or, should I more accurately say, the complete lack of it? Yeah, I should. Oy gevalt.

  2. Jo-Anne says:

    Sounds interesting

  3. Marge says:

    Be very careful folks. Dangerous psychopaths have long played on the sympathies of gullible do gooders like you. There have always been bleeding hearts crying about the “injustice” suffered by a perpetrator and these perps have played you fools for everything you’re worth.
    Check out the case Roger Keith Coleman who had a lot of fools convinced he was an innocent man about to be fried for the rape and murder of his sister in law. Give it to him, it was an incredible performance. Oh sure the guy at one time tried to rape a woman at gunpoint and had engaged in deviate sexual behavior before raping and murdering his sister in law, but who’s perfect?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Keith_Coleman

    • Max Myers says:

      And there’s many a right wing nutjob who has obviously flown out of the cuckoos nest.

      • Marge says:

        Actually Max Myers its the bleeding heart liberals you need to worry about.

        http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/11/12/mailer-and-the-murderer/?_r=0

        • Max Myers says:

          I love how these posts bring the assumptive loonies out in their droves.

        • Max Myers says:

          The only moralistic dirtbag I see on this thread is not Avery. You and those of your ilk that claim to want justice, yet with full knowledge know that there is none, only the perception of it, make me shudder to my core. Clearly Avery was railroaded twice by the very same scumbags and now, because of a corrupt and inept criminal justice system, will most likely spend the rest of his life in jail. That you’re so blind and self righteous as to not even entertain that he might not have committed this heinous act, is truly mind boggling.

          He was about to receive millions from the state, so why would he kill and torture her? Please, so prattle on about “who knows what’s in the deranged mind.” Try to come out of the primordial darkness and entertain possibility. Free yourself of a closed mind. It’s truly enlightening.

          • Marge says:

            I agree Steven isn’t the moralistic dirtbag. A dirtbag yes, but definitely not moralistic.

            To frame your hero, the woman beating and sadistic animal abuser Steven, would require that many people are ready and willing to frame someone, find a dead body or kill someone, take the risk of facing prosecution for their involvement, and most important, keep quiet. Wouldn’t even approaching someone and asking them to get involved be risky in itself? What if that person reports you? You see Max, a secret shared by many, i.e. a conspiracy, is only safe when just one person is left alive.

            Max try to get your facts straight about the lawsuit.
            http://www.postcrescent.com/story/news/local/steven-avery/2016/01/07/avery-settles-36m-civil-lawsuit/78437030/
            Also, the insurers would pay the money, not the sheriff’s dept. They really had nothing to gain by framing Steven.
            Why would he kill and mutilate this woman? Because he’s a psycho. You don’t look for rational reasons why these people do things. There are none.
            As I said Max, you are the classic example of why a little knowledge is dangerous. Always keep in mind that every story has two sides.

    • PatrickHMoore says:

      Hi Marge,
      The point of the article is not whether Steve Avery is guilty or innocent. The point of the article is that there may well have been police and or prosecutorial misconduct involved in the murder case against Steve Avery, which, if so, makes it’s impossible to determine whether Avery is guilty or not. Thus, justice is not served and a man goes to prison for life who may or may not be guilty…

    • PatrickHMoore says:

      Hi Marge,

      The point of the article is not whether Steve Avery is guilty of murdering Teresa Halbach. The point of the article is that given what appears to have been police and/or prosecutorial misconduct in building the case, it’s impossible to determine definitively whether or not Avery actually murdered poor Teresa.

      • Marge says:

        Thank you Patrick,

        I understand your point but I also urge caution. Psychopaths like Avery play people concerned about “misconduct” to the hilt. I gave an example with Roger Keith Coleman, who even appeared on the cover of TIME, another “victim” of supposed “misconduct”.
        Of course misconduct, if indeed it did occur, cannot be tolerated. But we already have people demanding a gubernatorial pardon! A little bit of knowledge is very very dangerous.

        • Max Myers says:

          Marge, did you even watch the entire series? Yes, there can be bias in either direction, but you’d have to deaf, dumb and blind not to see who they were both railroaded, unless, of course, you’re the Pinball Wizard? And, now wait for it, I’m one of “those”types that signed the petition DEMANDING a pardon.

          • Max Myers says:

            “how”…rats…too eager…

          • Marge says:

            You signed a petition to free a psychopath after watching a TV series? You are the classic example of how a little bit of knowledge is dangerous.
            You might want to check out how Roger Keith Coleman played people like you, as well as Jack Henry Abbott.
            Lest you think Steven was just some harmless lovable fuzzball,
            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/steven-avery-making-a-murderer_us_56992180e4b0ce4964243136

            Note the source is the Huntington Post, not exactly a “right wing” publication.

            Did you hear how your hero doused a cat with gasoline and threw it on the fire? He was charged with animal cruelty.

          • PatrickHMoore says:

            I know the tragic story of Norman Mailer and Jack Henry Abbott. I work in criminal defense and work with criminals everyday. Some come clean and accept responsibility. Others do not. It’s a tricky business. My modus operandi is to rarely believe precisely what I am being told by my clients. On the other hand, law enforcement has the bad habit of — in many cases — exaggerating culpability. I basically do not trust either side.

            As far as Steve Avery is concerned, I’m very aware that he was/is far from Mr. Clean. I read “The Innocent Killer: A True Story of a Wrongful Conviction and its Astonishing Aftermath” by Michael Griesbach, a Manitowoc County D.A. when it came out about a year ago. Mr. Griesback writes rather eloquently about the miscarriage of justice the first time around (the rape case) but believes law enforcement got it right the second time (the Teresa Halback murder case). I have considerable respect for Mr. Griesbach but do not know if he’s right about Avery culpability in the murder case.

          • Marge says:

            Hello Patrick,

            Then I would hope that by remembering the tragic tales of Coleman and Abbott that we wouldn’t be condemned to repeating them… but I’m not so sure. That is what I find very troubling.
            People watch some “documentary” and have a knee jerk reaction. Exactly the emotions and ignorance that people like Coleman and Abbott prey upon.

            I am not as certain about the nephew. I understand he was mentally challenged and very fearful of Avery, as well as controlled by him. I would like his case looked into further.

          • PatrickHMoore says:

            It’s probably not very likely that Avery will be exonerated on appeal. It certainly will be interesting, though, if his case is re-heard considering all the coverage.

            What about the literally dozens of individuals who were on Death Row or who were serving life for crimes they did not commit who have been exonerated through new DNA evidence based on the Innocence Project’s dedicated work. Wrongful convictions need to be overturned.

          • Max Myers says:

            Excellent point, Mr. Moore.

          • Marge says:

            Hello Patrick,

            I do not want to see any innocent man or woman sit in prison and I want any wrongfully convicted person exonerated.
            My concern is with people who get a limited amount of information, then run with it… even asking the governor for a pardon!
            DNA evidence freed Avery from his first conviction. It was used in his second trial to convict him of murder, as well as other evidence.

            Keep in mind too Patrick that a “conspiracy” such as this would involve the cooperation of several people plus their willingness to violate the law and possibly face serious consequences. Isn’t there a saying that when 3 people share a secret its only safe when two of them are dead?

          • PatrickHMoore says:

            Police and prosecutorial misconduct occur all the time. It appears there was some kind of conspiracy, albeit informal, to convict Mr. Avery the first time around. You should read “The Innocent Killer” to get the whole story which DA Griesbach tells quite well.

          • Marge says:

            Patrick,
            I have no doubt misconduct occurs and it can never be tolerated or accepted. There “may” have been some “informal conspiracy” to convict the first time? Conspiracies such as this can hardly be informal, whatever that means. Again several people must be willing to violate their oaths of office, break the law, risk prosecution themselves, and be trusted to remain silent.

          • PatrickHMoore says:

            But Marge, police and prosecutorial misconduct is tolerated and accepted. Not only that, it often results in promotions. A good example is that white guy in Texas, Michael Morton, who was wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife, got exonerated and the prosecutor, who had been promoted to a judgeship, was stripped of his position and served 5 days in jail. The wrongfully convicted dude served 25 years. This is the America we live in.

            Here’s the link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Morton_%28criminal_justice%29

          • Marge says:

            Patrick,
            I am the sister of a former police officer and I have heard plenty about police misconduct. I don’t live in a fantasy world concerning human nature and how underhanded law enforcement and the courts can be.
            I am well aware innocent people sit in prison. Because of that I am so glad to see the era of DNA testing. In the early 20th century my grandfather put a bullet in his head when falsely accused of raping and impregnating his stepdaughter, who hated him for putting her baby’s father in prison. There was no blood or DNA testing at the time, and what was his word against that of an “innocent” schoolgirl? Only when she recanted her story before she died years later did his only surviving child have the peace of mind knowing his father was not a child rapist. His other 4 children went to their graves thinking he was. Some people pay a terrible price because of a lie.

          • PatrickHMoore says:

            You should write a complete post about this. This is a story that needs to be to be told.

          • Marge says:

            I stand corrected, it is “The Huffington Post”, not Huntington.

          • ryan says:

            No one denied Avery’s past. The cat was brought up. He was drunk and his equally drunk friends were egging him on. Also, there have been cases when officers have knowingly framed innocents. These guys had motives. They would have been slaughtered in a lawsuit, and when that happened men would loose their jobs and the county would be decimated by loosing 36 mil. People have committed mass murder for less

            Brandan’s confession was coerced

        • Max Myers says:

          Marge, you keep quoting these other cases, but they have absolutely no relevance to the Avery case, other than to fuel your own agenda.

          YOu need to stop ranting and consider that that many, many learned people have, despite Avery’s vile history, become convinced that he’s innocent. That had did something so despicable to an animal is not relevant to this case, other than to show he has, or, had, a penchant for cruelty.

          Now, I don’t have many knee jerk reactions, other than I sometimes do the “knees up mother Brown.” You should try it, it might relieve some of that moral indignation coursing through your soul, or whatever you believe it’s called.

          • Marge says:

            Max,

            They have every relevance as they are examples of what happens when people only have a little information. Also how easily people can be manipulated by psychopaths.
            Hardly ranting Max, just presenting you with some unpleasant facts, mainly about yourself. You have a little information and you run with it. Check out serial killers Max and you will often find a history of despicable cruelty to animals. “Learned” people were also convinced of Coleman’s innocence and Abbott’s inner goodness.
            I don’t apologize for my moral indignation over a dirtbag like Avery, his despicable crimes, and people being bamboozled by him.

    • ryan says:

      Well in fairness the victim’s neighbor WAS a serial rapist that the police never looked at so I can understand why some would have thought he was innocent. A lot of times the men were innocent

  4. Rick Stack says:

    Very well done piece, John. It’s obvious to me that Steven Avery and his nephew were railroaded by corrupt, small-county law enforcement personnel. At the very least, they each deserve to have a new trial, at which the evidence gathered by the conflicted Manitowoc County Sheriff’s personnel should either be excluded or subject to a jury instruction that such evidence should be viewed with extreme caution, given the identity of the personnel who found the evidence and the strange circumstances under which the evidence in the earlier case against Avery was compromised.

  5. Natalie says:

    I did watch this documentary in it’s entirety and was picking my jaw up from the floor by the end of it. Most especially when it came to Dassey….gobsmacked!!!! Kachinsky and O’Kelly should be jailed. I very nearly broke down in tears when Dassey was talking to his mom and asked what ‘inconsistent’ means and she didn’t know what it meant either. I don’t believe for one red-hot second this young kid was involved in any way, shape or form with Theresa’s murder. Dassey had not a clue one the seriousness of the trouble/danger he was in! This kid asked one of his interrogators if he could be back in school to hand in a project that was due and now he’s in prison for life?? Guilt or innocence aside, the unscrupulous manner in which this case was handled and so succinctly summed up by Mr. Taylor, definitely calls into question the actions of the so-called officials involved. The fact the entirety of this case hasn’t been called into question by a higher court shakes me to my very core.

    • PatrickHMoore says:

      I appreciate your measured response, Natalie, and the fact you recognize that the issue here, notwithstanding the relative guilt or innocence of the accused, is “the unscrupulous manner in which the case was handled.

      • Marge says:

        Patrick, I think the other issue here is that there are two sides to this story. People are seeing one side and having a knee jerk reaction.
        I mentioned the situation with my grandfather to stress the point that I am well aware that false accusations can wrongly condemn innocent people. But my account also points out what happens when people don’t know the full story. They hear one side and, case closed.

        Again, I urge caution on everyone’s part concerning Avery.

    • Rick says:

      Natalie – I started watching this documentary about 2 weeks ago and am on the fourth episode. As a lawyer who has tried criminal cases in federal court, I’m absolutely astounded by some of the terrible lawyering which occurred in that case, especially by the first attorney hired by Dassey’s family.

      The most striking example of that attorney’s malpractice was when he had his private “investigator” visit Dassey in prison and pressured him for a few hours to write and rewrite a confession till it was consistent with what he’d told police investigators so that Dassey could testify against his uncle (Steven Avery). On the following day, Dassey’s attorney allowed his client to be interviewed by the sheriff WITHOUT THE PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR OR the ATTORNEY BEING PRESENT, during which Dassey recanted his written confession after telling the sheriff that wasn’t what happened on the night in question.

  6. Marge says:

    I have always had my reservations concerning Dassey, who I understand was mentally challenged. This is someone who could be easily intimidated and manipulated by Avery. Avery had the capacity to terrify and manipulate adults like his former girlfriend, who still lives in fear if him. He could easily do the same to someone like Dassey.

  7. Diana says:

    I have no doubt at all that Mr. Avery was set up not once, but twice. The sheriffs deputies who found the so-called evidence after other investigators search the same area and found absolutely nothing. That evidence should’ve been thrown out in court. The people from the sheriffs office should never have been involved in anyway in the investigation because it was a conflict of interest considering there was a lawsuit pending naming the two officers specifically. Why didn’t the other police agencies kick the deputies off the investigation? It makes you wonder if the police departments in that area had a good old boys club where they would cover each other no matter what. Also, his nephew was most certainly coerced into testifying against hus uncle. If I was a juror I would never have convicted Me. Avery based on the evidence becaus not only was it circumstantial, but it was shoddy police work to boot.

    • PatrickHMoore says:

      Everything you say rings true, Diana. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      Patrick

    • Marge says:

      Diana, you have to keep in mind this would involve a conspiracy. You need people willing to violate their oaths of office, technicians would have to agree to falsify reports, and all these people would have to be willing to face dire consequences for doing so. Then you would have to hope that everyone will keep silent. Oh yes, and hope they don’t report you for approaching them in the first place.

      I have pointed out time and again there are two sides to this story. This thread definitely verifies the old adage that a little bit of knowledge is very dangerous.

      • jackie freitas says:

        It would be fairly easy, especially in a town like that,to pull off the story and “evidence” the cops came up with. When you consider the blatant ridiculousness of this kind of evidence: key appears after 5 to 7 searches AND it’s just a single key without all her other keys, not one speck of blood or DNA from either suspect or VICTIM, in the room the cops claim the suspects raped and stabbed her numerous times AND slit her throat. NOT ONE SPECK. As far as the “rape” how would they be able to prove that when her body was literally burned into little pieces?? And the fire?? No way a bonfire would burn up body like that. Absolutely no fu*kin way. These are just a few of the glaring inconsistencies in this case. Those things alone are HUGELY important. If he actually did it why would they have to make up all that phony evidence? That’s why the cops,that weren’t supposed to be anywhere near that property, were there the entire search and THEY just happened to be the one’s that found the evidence. Do you seriously not see how all that corruptness can’t be a coincidence?? I don’t know if Avery killed that broad or not. I DO know the cops were unprofessional to the point of corruptness and unlawfulness. There’s no doubt about that. So….WHY?? Why did they have to do all that?? For an absolute certain, they should get a retrial. I cannot see ANYBODY disagreeing with that. Personally, I think her ex-boyfriend or maybe one of Avery’s pervert, convicted sex offender brothers killed her. But even if Avery did do it, I still want him to be released. Just because…

        • Marge says:

          OK all you conspiracy masterminds, I have to ask. Where and how did Teresa’s body enter the picture? So far no one has offered any theory on this rather important component of this “conspiracy”.
          Did the “conspirators” just conveniently stumble across a dead body and shout “Eureka!” “A dead body”! “How nice that it just fell out of the sky for us! Now let’s go frame Avery”. Then there is the only other possibility, did they actually all conspire to murder her…or did one or two murder her and everyone kept quiet about it?
          Also, how did anyone know Teresa even knew Avery, had been to his salvage yard, was fearful of him, has spoken to him on the phone, and planned to visit the salvage yard that day?

          I hate to confuse you folks with the reality of what would actually be involved in a “conspiracy”, but if anyone can address the questions I have raised, I’m all eyes.

        • Marge says:

          No Jackie it would not be “easy”. As I pointed out, you have to find people as motivated and willing as you are to carry out this conspiracy. You have to find people willing to involve themselves in illegal activity that could put them away for a very long time. Then you have to hope they will keep quiet. Then you have to hope they won’t get caught, because if they do guess who they’re taking down with them? Then you have to hope they can pull off their end of the bargain and do it right.

          More is likely to go wrong than go right and for the $400,000 Avery was getting, which was being paid by the insurance company, it hardly seems worth all the time, trouble, and risk to “frame” him for much of anything.

          I have sympathy for his nephew, who I am convinced was manipulated and terrorized by Avery. As I understand it, Brandon was mentally challenged, and if adults could be intimidated by Avery, certainly a mentally challenged boy was an easy mark.

          • ryan says:

            Considering that the county would loose 36 mils and many officers would be disgraced they had a motive. They KNEW Alan had raped Beertsen but ignored him and allowed him to rape more. The county would have lost MILLIONS; THAT’S motive to frame people. There was motive

            They had incentive to do so. There’s a case in california where it turned out 5 attorney’s had knowingly concealed evidence.

            More likely someone else (Scott Tadych) murdered Theresa and the cops saw an opportunity to make the lawsuit go away

        • ryan says:

          I think it was Scott and Bobby. Scott tried to sell a 22 caliber (the same as the murder weapon); bobby had suspicious marks on his backs he claimed were from a puppy, both had no alibi and Both had a history of hurting women. It would explain Brandan. He wanted to protect his stepdad and brother.

  8. […] “Making a Murderer” Sparks Public Outrage (as well it should) […]

  9. Marge says:

    No Ryan the county would lose no such thing. It had been plea bargained down to the six figures and would be paid for by the county’s insurance company.
    Now you have to get all these people to agree to be complicit in a murder, which just conveniently happened, by falsifying evidence and concealing the true killer, as well as destroying a corpse and planting the remains. You have to hope all these people will play their roles without a hitch, won’t get caught, and won’t implicate you if they are. They all have to be ready and willing to face some serious prison time if caught. And for what??
    Conspiracies are a little more complicated than what is being suggested here.

    • Max Myers says:

      And here comes Marge again, galloping in with her over simplification of the case. Perhaps you should rewatch the entire series and understand that just because it’s called a conspiracy theory, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

      I do have to wonder if you’re really that blind, or a spin doctor for the county, trolling the internet for true crime websites that could perhaps sway public opinion, particularly as there’s a new documentary in the works.

      Or is that another conspiracy theory?

  10. Marge says:

    Why hello Max. How nice to be so warmly welcomed back. I know, facts and reality checks can be such nuisances, can’t they?

    Not blind at all my friend, just throwing out some facts about conspiracies. They are not quite as simplistic to throw together and people have to be willing to face some very serious consequences for their involvement in them.
    There also has to be a strong motivating factor. Can you name it?
    Can you tell me where a dead body conveniently came from?
    How did the “conspirators” know about Theresa and her fear of Avery?
    Exactly who were all the “conspirators” and what is their version of events?

    I am glad to see Dassey get another chance. He is mentally challenged and could be easily intimidated and manipulated by Avery. If he frightened adults, he could certainly frighten a mentally challenged teenager.

    • Max Myers says:

      Although I did love the Mulberry Bush rhyme when I was a kid, as an adult it now seems pointless. In that spirit, Marge, I leave you to going around and around in your tightly wrapped condemnation of an obviously innocent man.

  11. Marge says:

    Can’t address my questions Max? I didn’t think so.

    Sorry about facts and reality checks. I agree they can spoil a great “conspiracy”.

    • Max Myers says:

      HAHAHAHA Marge, you and I are always on the edge of being rotten to each other, but let’s not go down the kindergarten road, even though your intellectual pay grade might… 😉

  12. Marge says:

    Max my friend, I’m talking facts and reality checks. You’re the one talking about nursery rhymes.

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