Steven Avery is the convicted murderer at the center of Making a Murderer, a 10-part documentary released Dec. 18 on Nextflix. Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, are in prison — convicted of the same crime, convicted in different trials, convicted by different scenarios. (And yes, that is legal.)
The story is unnerving on many levels, not the least of which is the perceived corruption within the Manitowoc (Wis.) County Sheriff’s Department (Exhibit A is Lt. James Lenk and Exhibit B is Sgt. Andrew Colborn.) And then there’s Len Kachinsky, the first defense attorney for Dassey; the prosecutor, Ken Kratz, a special kind of burn-in-hell excuse for a man; and Michael O’Kelly, a defense investigator under Kachinsky, who stands shoulder to shoulder with Kratz in terms of soullessness.
Yes, the series does focus on the Avery angle more so than the prosecution or the Halbach family. Yes, the prosecution was given the opportunity to participate when the filmmakers — Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardo — were documenting this case. Yes, the prosecution declined. Yes, the Halbach family was given the opportunity to participate when the filmmakers were documenting this case. Yes, the Halbach family declined.
“We did not have a horse in this race,” Ricciardi said. “It was no consequence to us if Steven Avery was found guilty or not guilty.”
No, Kratz and the Keystone Kops do not get to rewrite history simply because a worldwide spotlight has been shined onto their rat’s nest of incompetency. Kratz has spoken to every news outlet and blogger that’s come calling since Making a Murderer became binge-worthy must-see TV. And, quite simply, he’s #butthurt that anyone with a pulse has kicked to the curb his murder theory and the evidence used to convict two men despite unquestionable reasonable doubt.
And now the media is whole-clothing Kratz’s contentions that pertinent evidence from the trial was not included in Making a Murderer. Among the alleged omissions:
- The animal cruelty story was worse than described
Avery doused a cat in oil or gas, depending on who’s telling the story, and tossed it in a fire. This happened more than two decades before the murder. And it’s relevant … how? No, it does not prove a propensity for violence. If so, a lot of rednecks I grew up with should be sweating profusely.
- Avery was violent to other women
This is in reference to Avery forcing a cousin to stop her vehicle and having a rifle in his hands when he was outside the car. … It is covered in the documentary, and really — since Avery’s cousin was married to a Manitowoc County law enforcement official — if there was more meat on this bone it would be a much bigger deal. But it’s not.
- Avery once met Halbach wearing only a towel
Yep, a bit weird. But … did he make any sexual advances? Did he say anything sexually suggestive to Halbach? Apparently not. Did she report it to the police? No. Halbach mentioned it to a co-worker, they laughed. Halbach said, “Ew.” … And still, she went back to the salvage yard when there was work to be done.
- Avery requested Halbach as his photographer
This is “evidence” to prove he murdered her? C’mon, what’s his motive for killing her? We’re replacing more windows on the house; I called the same salesman we used two years ago. I hope he doesn’t go missing …
- Avery called Halbach three times on the day she went missing
This has been shot down time and time again: Halbach knew where she was going to shoot the photos. This was not Halbach’s first rodeo; she’d been to the Avery salvage yard before. So what if he called using *67, it’s not like she would cancel the shoot if “Steven Avery” called.
- Avery had recently ordered leg irons and handcuffs
Again, these were for use in his personal life — and there is no evidence Halbach was put in leg irons or handcuffs. If anything, maybe Kratz continues to mention this because he has bondage fantasies?
- Avery’s sweat was found in Halbach’s car
No, not exactly — his DNA was found on the hood latch of Halbach’s car. (Again, Strang never wavers on this point; it was not “sweat,” it was DNA.) Never mind the DNA was discovered months after the car had been checked by the Wisconsin state authorities and returned to the county. … And yet, still no fingerprints on the hood, the latch.
- Avery allegedly molested Dassey
“So, Ken, umm, mentioning Steven Avery and ‘leg irons and handcuffs’ is just not enough; let’s go totally off the inbreeded charts!” So preface it with “allegedly” and all is OK? What a crock of crap. … But the defense could not put forth a third-party scenario to cast a light on others who also had the opportunity to murder Halbach?
- The bullet matched Avery’s rifle
No, it matched a rifle that was in Avery’s trailer; it belonged to the landlord. And if you arrested everyone in Manitowoc County with access to a .22, the LEOs would still be processing the crime scene. … And yet, she was “shot in the garage” — but not a drop of her blood was not found in the garage. (This magic bullet takes a back seat only to Arlen Specter’s theory in the JFK assassination.)
I’ll give you a couple things that strike me as odd:
• The burn barrel, the quarry, and the burn pit. Some have speculated that the body was burned at the quarry in the barrel, then the bones were scattered at the quarry and pit (and some remained in the barrel, which was moved behind Dassey’s house). … Y’all ever tried to pick up a burn barrel after a fire burned inside? It’s a bit warm — for a long while. Not plausible. And if the body was burned at the quarry, why would the perpetrator bring bones into his back yard?
(That’s discounting that fire in a barrel, quarry, or pit will not reach high enough temperatures to cremate a body. But why let facts get in the way of a salacious murder mystery?)
• TV news reports show video of the initial search of Avery’s trailer, a LEO is slowly moving a flashlight throughout Avery’s bedroom. Check out the video and riddle me this: Where is the bookcase? You know, the bookcase that Sgt. Colburn jostled and, maybe, dislodged the key, which fell into plain sight. … Even weirder: In video shot during a later search, a bookcase is nestled between the slippers and desk.
As for Dassey, his confessions and retractions — miscarriage of justice does not begin to describe what happened to that kid. From his first court-appointed lawyer, to the defense investigator, to the prosecution, to the judge, this is the epitome of an epic failure in humanity.
The Halbach family lost a daughter. That is a tragedy. Two men are behind bars, convicted of a crime — two crimes, using the prosecutor’s logic — and the verdict was rooted in painfully tainted evidence. There is no peace for anyone in the wake of the release of MaM. Hopefully, justice will be had — for the Halbach family and for the Avery family. Not to mention the LEOs …
In the end, “substantial evidence” means more than a mere scintilla; it means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Then again, judging by the evidence that was allowed into these two cases, finding a jury with “a reasonable mind” was the true crime.
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