Episode six of “Making A Murderer” gives us a refresher on the press conference circus where Ken Kratz lays out just how Teresa Halbach was killed. We now know Brendan Dassey’s account is not quite as clear cut as the prosecutors make it appear in their presser.
Kratz is asked by the local press about any DNA evidence that connects Dassey to the crime scene. He doesn’t comment, just stating nebulously that there is plenty of evidence.
As bad as Kratz and the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department seems, I have to keep reminding myself that Steven Avery could have killed this innocent young lady. Though I don’t have any personal doubts that he was set up with certain pieces of evidence, I don’t want to ignore that possibility.
This documentary while extraordinarily interesting is one-sided in favor of the accused, Steven Avery. The question I find myself asking is “Am I OK with the police planting evidence if Avery did kill Halbach.” That’s a tough one that we’ll come back to later in the series.
We see that Brendan is not going to testify, but it’s made clear by the defense team that the jury already knows about his story from the circus-like presser from Kratz. The prosecution keeps the jury from seeing a kid who would change his story on the stand at each turn while still having the jury know what Dassey stated in the past.
Stang and Buting keep pounding away at the Manitowoc County police department’s credibility. A bullet is found in Steven’s garage after five initial searches that yielded no bullets. Of course, our old pal Lieutenant Lenk was on site when the bullet fragment was found. Shell casings were also found in the garage.
– Lenk keeps showing up when evidence is found after previous searches result in nothing concrete.
– The casings raise a question about why the hell is Steven Avery shooting a gun in his garage? You don’t sight a rifle inside a garage or hunt rabbits there like Buting suggested as the reason for shells on the property.
This episode has a few experts for us. A couple on bones and a couple of chemical experts.
Sherry Culhane is called to testify about the testing she did on the bullet fragment in the garage. The technique used to test for DNA on the bullet in this instance left only enough for one test. One chance to get the scientific truth….and what happens? The sample is contaminated by the tester, Ms. Culhane!
Culhane’s own DNA somehow ends up in the sample.
The prosecution insists to the media that even though this mistake was made, there could have been no mistake about Teresa Halbach’s DNA being on the bullet. That’s a big leap in logic obviously.
I hated science in school, so I’m not an expert. I do know that science involves strict guidelines and protocols for testing. Guesswork and theories are what comes before testing, not afterward. But Culhane makes a judgment call on the test results even though her guidelines on the specific test tell her to show the results as inconclusive. She had followed those rules on every test of that kind in her career, yet decided to let this one slide.
She might as well have done no test at all and just assumed the bullet killed Halbach since she played fast and loose with the rules. She did get approval to allow the results by her bosses apparently. That makes it worse not better since more and more people appear to be fine with letting shady evidence through the cracks in this case.
Her findings match up to a request by the prosecution’s investigators that ask Culhane to “try to put her (Halbach) in his garage or house,” that was noted in Culhane’s phone log. Any idiot can see the cooperation of the authorities with a conviction as the goal, not the truth.
Ken Kratz continued to deny the lack of physical evidence to the press even though Halbach’s DNA is found nowhere in the garage except on the bullet. Brendan Dassey’s DNA is not found anywhere on site from what we are told.
As we’re about to see testimony from bone fragment experts for the prosecution, Dean Strang comments outside of court on how he would be super worried if bones were ever found outside his home. That fact alone makes it hard to swallow that Avery had nothing to do with this murder.
Strang did destroy the prosecution’s bone expert by making her admit that the bone fragments could have been moved onto Avery’s property since she could not tell if the bones’ condition was a result of that transportation or the moving of the bones by law enforcement to testing facilities.
On the surface, it looks bad for Teresa Halbach’s bloody hair to be in the Rav4. However it makes no sense that Steven Avery would kill her in his garage then haul her off site, burn her body, then bring the burnt remains back to his backyard fire pit.
Even with an IQ of 70, he would not go to all that trouble.
One big standout in this documentary is just how bad human memory can be. This trial is 15 months or so after the murder of Ms. Halbach. We have almost every witness sharing details that don’t quite match up with their original statements.
Not just the regular Joes. We’re talking cops as well. Timelines are cloudy at best from Bobby Dassey and his stepdad Scott Tadych. They were on site the day Halbach was last seen at Steven’s trailer and the time frames they report don’t match up with the bus driver who was dropping off kids that same day.
I would trust the bus driver over most any witness since she isn’t connected to the case at all and unless she is a substitute driver she would drive the same route five days a week. Thus arriving at the Avery property at the same time within a couple minutes each day. This lady would know her schedule.
Episode six closes with Dean Strang reminding the audience that “No sane lawyer wants to use cops framing a suspect as a defense.”
In the remaining four episodes I imagine we’re going to see just how hard it is to convince the jury that they should not trust what the authority figures are telling them.
In our last recap, we mentioned how the former prosecutor Ken claimed that the filmmakers doctored things and left important information out of “Making A Murderer,” and now the Manitowoc County Sheriff Robert Hermann is making similar claims. He says that the film has been manipulated, which is going to be the case with any documentary as the only way to not do that is just to run all the tape back to back unedited, but then, of course, no one would watch it.
With any documentary film, the filmmakers have to create the story in the best way possible using their most objective judgment they can. It’s not easy as many times, cutting corners (like Michael Moore) is easier, but it also creates distrust with that filmmakers future projects. Most real documentary filmmakers value their reputation and will go to the ends of the earth to make sure that the film is told in the best way possible while also retaining the integrity of the story.
“Because of all the media stuff we’ve been getting, I actually did watch with it my inspector and I still stand by that statement,” Hermann said. “In several areas throughout the film, you can see where they cut the tape and manipulated things. One place real evident is one of the interviews with Steven Avery in episode 5 – if you watch one video, it jumps from 3:20 to 3:21, then to 3:17, then to 3:22 and then to 3:18.”
The sheriff’s criticisms echo previous statements made to Herald Times Reporter, prior to having watched the series. “A documentary puts things in chronological order and tells the story as it is … I’ve heard things are skewed,” he said on December 22nd, four days after Making a Murderer hit Netflix. “They’ve taken things out of context and taken them out of the order in which they occurred, which can lead people to a different opinion or conclusion.”
The series focuses on Avery, who was imprisoned on sexual assault for 18 years before new DNA evidence led to his exoneration and release. Two years later, Avery was charged with the rape and murder of Teresa Halbach and received a life sentence in 2007. Making a Murderer presents the theory that he was framed by Wisconsin law enforcement – and major petitions have surfaced aiming to free Avery, 53, via a presidential pardon.
If you’re looking to do more investigating, Reddit has got thousands of people on a forum trying to help solve the case. Claims that Anonymous have stepped in have surfaced, and we’ll see if they pan out to be true or not, but in the meantime, you can help out if so inclined. This is similar to the site WM3.org that was created as one of the best and most amazing crime archive sites for the West Memphis Three case (Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley Jr.).
Here’s all the info on that:
The recent release of Netflix’s Making a Murderer documentary — which follows the conviction of Wisconsin-born Steven Avery for murder — has led a huge number of people to discuss the case and TV show on Reddit. Many online detectives are working together in an attempt to re-examine the case.
But given previous controversial investigations, such as those around the Boston bombing, some warn that the sharing of speculation or discoveries online could cause problems. And many posts simply attempt to deal with the confusion of watching the program — through the spreading of memes or of expressions of disgust with events.
Making a Murderer’s ten episodes follow the overturning of the conviction of Steven Avery for rape. The series shows how he then went on to be arrested and sent to prison for murder, in court hearings that have been criticised by some involved in the case.
Many of the group’s posts are expressing that frustration, arguing over the evidence that was used to convict Avery. The group particularly turns its sights on those who are prominently featured in the documentary, including the police and lawyers involved in the case.
Some posts are simply different users expressing how exasperating the series is to watch.
“Anyone else wanna give Steve Avery’s mom a big hug?” asks the title of one post. “Is society hopelessly broken?” another pleads.
According to Reddit’s own traffic figures, nearly 450,000 different people viewed the page in December. That month there was almost 4 million page views.
Those figures relate only to the forum’s page itself, and not the links posted there that show up elsewhere on Reddit.
Forums like Reddit have had mixed success in previous attempts to do online detective work. After the Boston bombing, for instance, users of the site were criticised for being over-hasty in apportioning blame, and apparently pointing the finger at people who in fact were innocent, as well as hindering the official investigations.
The Making a Murderer Reddit has rules apparently written partly to stop such problems happening again.
Those include a ban on exposing the personal information of anyone that wasn’t included in the show, for instance.
“No doxing,” the rules read. “Do not share personal information not included in the podcast or other official source.”
The group also bans “witch-hunting” of any person or company involved in the case.
“Any ‘call to arms’ against any person, online user, company, etc are NOT allowed,” the rules read. “Anything hinting at this will be removed and the users banned.”
Those behind the Subreddit have also set it up so that personal information is kept off the site. That includes an automatic filtering system that keeps out new accounts or those that have a bad reputation on the site until they have been vetted by an established moderator.
The site’s page also features a disclaimer, which points out that the views expressed there aren’t those of administrators or the owners of Reddit, or of legal authorities. It also says that “suggestions concerning call to action or legal action of any kind are to be judged on a case by case basis and any dissenting opinions”, and warns against taking anything mentioned as being of a “legal nature”.
“It is to be assumed that the individual(s) who created this subreddit and those that partake in a casual manner are doing so of their own volition and are simply exercising their right to free speech, especially within the context of an ongoing narrative/investigation,” the administrators write.