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Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Case of Steven Avery

It seems as if the whole country is jumping aboard the Avery train.  We are gnawing the meat from the bones of what appears to be one of the greatest wrongful conviction stories of our time. 

If you haven't binged-watched "Making a Murderer”, on Netflix, you are missing out on one hell of a ride.

Steven Avery - image source: romper.com
Part One: The Rape

On July 29, 1985, at approximately 3:50 p.m., Penny Ann Beernsten who was with her family on the Lake, decided to take a run along the shore of Lake Michigan.  She was apprehended by an unknown assailant who forced her into the woods and sexually assaulted her. 

1995:  The Wisconsin Innocence Project, a non­-profit organisation which devotes itself to exonerating wrongly convicted individuals, takes on Steven’s case. They request to have the DNA evidence from the crime scene tested using new scientific advancements.

1996: The new tests reveal that the DNA found under Penny’s fingernails does not match Steven’s but because it couldn’t exactly eliminate him, he is denied a new trial.  

1997:  The same evidence is presented to the judge, but the decision was upheld.

After being imprisoned 18 years for sexual assault he did not commit, Steven Avery was exonerated after new (advanced technology) DNA evidence was finally released, in 2003.  Avery maintained his innocence during his entire incarceration.

Penny Beernsten
In her own words, Penny Beernsten wrote, "Then, in 2001, Steve’s attorney contacted The Wisconsin Innocence Project, who agreed to help with his case. A year later there was a motion to release additional biological materials for DNA testing. Two hairs were tested: one was identified as mine, and the other belonged to someone else – but that someone was not Steve Avery. In the CODIS database they got a direct hit with a man named Gregory Allen, who in 1995 had brutally raped a woman in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and was subsequently serving a 60-year sentence. Gregory Allen looks very much like Steve Avery." Image source: theforgivenessproject

Netflix photo showing Steven Avery just a day or two before his arrest for sexual assault with his wife and 5 children.  Here the twin boys are only a day or two old. / Netflix photo.
To add salt to the wound during this trial, Avery presented 16 alibi witnesses:  A clerk of a store in Green Bay, "who recalled Avery, accompanied by his wife and five children, buying paint from the store. A checkout tape put the purchase at 5:13 p.m. Beernsten put the attack at 3:50 p.m. and estimated it lasted 15 minutes, which meant that Avery would have had to leave the scene of the attack, walk a mile to the nearest parking area, drive home, load his family into the car, and drive 45 miles in just over an hour." -Source: the innocence project

Steven Avery holds a relative's baby after being released in 2003.
"The false conviction of Steven Avery that involved the Manitowoc Police Department could have theoretically been overturned in 1995 instead of 2003, due to the confession by the actual offender (Gregory Allen) which was passed on to officer Coburn in 1995. Despite Coburn admitting in court that this was the only time he had ever been called and informed that they had the wrong man in jail, he dismissed the suggestion and never reported it until the day after Steven Avery had been released in September 2003."
Source:  exposingtruth.com

A few years passed and a murder takes place in Manitowic County. Avery is now accused of murdering a photographer by the name of Teresa Halbach.  

Teresa Halbach - Image source: People Magazine
"Making a Murderer” examines Steven Avery, from Manitowic County in Wisconsin, who was charged and convicted of the rape and murder Teresa Halbach.  Avery is currently serving a life sentence for this crime.

The most pertinent and persistent questions (and concerns) that I have - and I sincerely hope that everyone considers - as it pertains to Steven Avery's current charges and probable innocence, are as follows:

Where's the blood?

If a murder had taken place in this bedroom - and the allegations were very specific - that the victim's throat was slit while tied to the bed - there would be some amount of blood. But, there was no blood. 
In fact, there was absolutely no DNA evidence was found from the victim in the entire home of Steven Avery. But, here again, it was stated that she didn't die in the bedroom, that she was only injured, and then taken in to Steven's garage where she was allegedly shot in the head.

(Above) This is a picture that was taken of Steven Avery's garage.  This is where Teresa Halbach was supposedly brought to "finish the job" so to speak.  In forensics, you would have naturally find human blood splatter and/or brain matter, all over the contents of this garage.  As I watched the filming of this, it was very apparent that the contents of the cluttered garage had not been disturbed, as they were covered with oily dust as you would suspect to find in any garage.  There was no DNA or blood from the victim found any where in that building.  Incidentally, the stains on the floor were from old deer kills.   (See below for more about the garage and the bullet that was later found).

Investigators went so far as to take a jack hammer to the floor of the garage hoping to find human blood, but nothing was found.

More about Blood....

A blood sample from Steven Avery’s wrongful conviction investigation was illegally opened, and per standard procedure, it had not been signed out sometime before locating Teresa Halbach’s Toyota RAV4 on November 5th. The fact is, the evidence seal was compromised, and noone gave their name, nor their accountability on signing it out. 

Legal procedure is that Steven Avery's blood should have been kept in a completely sealed, tamper resistant Styrofoam case - which should be the case with ALL evidence - not just Steven Avery - but anyone in a similar circumstance.  But in Steven's case, the seal of what should have been his protected evidence (a vial of blood) had been not only sliced open, but resealed with Scotch tape.

During Avery's trial, Lynn Zigmunt, a Clerk of the (Manitowic) County, testified that she had a log that all parties were to sign when anyone went into the evidence room, but "some people were making exceptions for people... We've tightened up on that."  WHAT???

There was a hole in the top of the vial, which the Defense suggested that it was an indication of tampering.  However, this was explained away, as all blood vials have this hole, as this is how blood is initially introduced into the vial.  But what is to say that it wasn't later extracted through the same hole (to be used to plant evidence)?  Most importantly why would Steven Avery's legally protected evidence be compromised, and who tampered with it?  And, why?

When I first saw the blood evidence near the key hole of the ignition of Teresa Hallbach's RAV 4, as well as on the passenger side of the car's seat, my first reaction was that someone had used a Q-Tip to place blood in the vehicle. It doesn't take a rocket-scientist to clearly see that a Q-Tip was the measure by which the blood smears were produced.

Daub... and smear.  Clearly made by a Q-Tip.
Blood smear found in victim's vehicle - can you see the Q-Tip marks?
Cut on Steven Avery's hand, that was observed during his arrest.
Teresa Hallbach's RAV 4 found on Avery's property
"Teresa’s RAV4 was found on the Avery property on November 5th, which was two days after Coburn had called into central to read in Teresa’s license plate and ask if it was a “99 Toyota,” which was information not supplied by the police in their description of the RAV4." Source:  exposingtruth.com

The Bullet

(Above) If this is the bullet that killed Teresa Hallbach, why was her DNA (blood and brain matter) only found on the bullet and not the floor surrounding where it's impact would be? 

Judge Willis
In fact, the bullet was discovered 6 MONTHS (In March) after the initial investigation and then prosecution was able to find Teresa Hallbach's DNA on the bullet. There was no other evidence - anywhere - except ON the bullet.  

Prosecutor, Ken Kratz
"A single bullet was found on the floor in Steven’s garage which was found in a single test to have Teresa’s DNA. How a bullet theoretically went through Teresa to land on the floor, without her otherwise leaving a single drop of blood or hair follicle, is a scenario the prosecution avoided trying to explain. No other DNA from Teresa was found in the garage whatsoever, despite the police claiming this was the murder site. This bullet was found approximately 6 months after the initial searches (in March)."  - Source: exposingtruth.com

"William Newhouse, a gun expert with the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, said he couldn't conclusively link a bullet found in a crack in Avery's garage to a .22-caliber rifle seized from his bedroom. (He could only confirm that it was definitely a bullet from a .22 caliber rifle). There was no DNA on the gun, no blood blow back that you’d get from shooting someone at that close range and no blood mist / spatter around the garage that would also be present had someone been shot in the garage.
Quote source:  reddit.com/r/MakingaMurderer/comments/40dquo/prodefense_information_that_was_left_out_of_mam/

The Key 

It was during the seventh search that police discovered the key to Teresa Hallbach's RAV 4 on the floor of his bedroom.   More importantly, due to the civil law suit filed by Steven Avery against the County, Manitowic police were supposed to have zero involvement in the search or any procedures pertaining to this case, however, they were again and again on the property during the entire investigation.  

Suspiciously, the key just happened to be found by Lieutenant James Lenk, who is(?) a member of the Manitowic Police Department.

The key "found" in Avery's bedroom
Interestingly enough, there was absolutely NO DNA from Teresa Hallbach found on the key chain, but lots of Steven's DNA.  Why would these scientific results only show Steven's DNA?  This is a key that Teresa used every day so wouldn't you naturally assume that her DNA should appear?  The suspicion is that the key was cleaned very well, and replaced with Steven's DNA. Easily done.  After all, the police had access to all of his personal property.

The Bones

Image source: imgur.com
Bone fragments were found in the fire pit of Steven Avery's property, as well as in a barrel on that same property. 

The home of Steven Avery
The bone fragments found were consistent with transference.  What does this mean?  In plain English, the body was likely burned at another location, (found to be some 10 miles away in a quarry area) and the bones were then placed in a barrel (or perhaps burned in them) and then brought to Steven Avery's property to dump them into the fire pit.

Image source: reddit.com
exposingtruth.com explains: "The bone evidence means that we can only explain all of the evidence and assume Steven is the killer if we assume he burned the body in two separate locations and, after burning the body once in the off-site pit, he packed all of the bones back together and burned them in his bonfire at around 8:45PM. This series of events is inconsistent with the Brendan Dassey timeline used by investigators, which have Brendan describing seeing Teresa’s “toes” in the fire when he came over around 9PM. This would thus require Steven to burn just the pelvis of what Brendan described as an “uncut” human body across town, and then transport the remainder of the body to his property for the rest of the burning. If the body was burned entirely in Steven’s burn pit, this does not explain the pelvic bones or the fact that burned bones were also found in a barrel on the property."

Avery's original attorneys:  Dean Strang and Jerome Buting - photo: Netflix
Avery has now hired a new attorney, who is making waves for his innocence on Twitter and around the news, and Internet.  Kathleen Zellner is her name and is vowing to free Steven Avery.  I, for one, sure hope so.  You go, Kathleen.

Avery's new attorney: Kathleen Zellner / Image source: techinsider

Who Really Dunnit? Here are some theories and additional information (food for thought):

This 12 page document  implicates a motive to murder Teresa Hallbach.

Or Read this Theory.

Can't get enough of this case?  Try this

Timeline of the story can be found here

Detective from Scotland Yard chimes in