Controversy swarms the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer as many argue the series is one-sided and biased toward Steven Avery’s innocence. Web sleuths (see here) and the media dug deeper into the case and pointed out that incriminating evidence was left out of the popular 10-part series, and villainous former prosecutor Ken Kratz dismissed the doc as a work of fiction. Kratz (doing what he does best) ran his mouth to the media, stating that several pieces of evidence pointing toward Avery’s guilt were withheld from the film.
Avery’s DNA was found on the hood latch to Teresa Halbach’s car, Avery answered the door in a towel, and he used *67 to hide his identity when calling the photographer the day that she died. While the “new” evidence is interesting and has been discussed ad nauseam, it’s not conclusive to the Wisconsin man’s guilt.
Along with missing information that sides with the prosecution, the documentary also left out crucial evidence that supports Steven Avery’s defense. Before you take Ken Kratz’s word for it and decide Avery is guilty, check out the other evidence not seen in Making a Murderer.
The Sweat Evidence is Unfounded
Former Prosecutor Ken Kratz told the media that Steven Avery’s DNA was found on the hood latch of Teresa Halbach’s car, and that the DNA was from his sweat. However, Avery’s former defense attorney Dean Strang refuted the claims because the investigator who searched Halbach’s car made a huge mistake: He didn’t change his gloves after searching Steven Avery’s car. Strang argued that the evidence found in Teresa’s car could have been carried over from the gloves that were used to search Avery’s vehicle.
Strang also denied Kratz’s claims that the DNA was from Avery’s sweat, explaining that the evidence just showed Steven’s DNA was transferred. He told Megyn Kelly on the January 5 episode of The Kelly File, “The sweat theory was just Mr. Kratz’s theory…His skin, a DCI agent’s glove…could have transferred that DNA under the hood.”
Dean Strang discussed the case details even further with Kelly. He explained forensic anthropologist Dr. Scott Fairgrieve testified at trial that an open fire—like the bonfire Steven Avery supposedly burned the night Teresa Halbach was murdered—could not generate enough heat to burn a body to the extent that Halbach’s bones were found.
Defense attorney Jerry Buting explained Fairgrieve’s testimony to Rolling Stone, “…he testified consistently with what we had found in the literature, which is: To burn a body takes either extremely high heat, or a very long, sustained, moderate medium-high type of heat, and it would be very difficult to burn a body in an open pit—an open fire—particularly to the degree that these bone fragments showed.”
The Anonymous Letter
Buting and Strang wanted to show the juror an anonymous letter that was mailed to the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department, which suggested that body parts were “burned in the smelter at 3am on Friday.” A smelter is a furnace commonly used for burning metals. The Friday is presumed to be Friday, November 4, 2005, a day before Teresa’s body was discovered.
Buting stated that ignoring the letter showed how investigators ignored any evidence that didn’t fit their theory of what happened to Halbach.
The Evidence Room Didn’t Always Log Visitors
Remember when Buting discovered the evidence box containing Steven Avery’s blood from his 1985 conviction? It appeared to have been tampered with, and Avery’s defense team argued the blood was planted in Halbach’s car. The evidence room clerk, Lynn Zigmunt, testified that there was a log everyone was supposed to sign when they entered the evidence room; however, she said that some people made exceptions for certain people. So, it is possible that someone could have entered the evidence room, without signing in, to take a sample of Avery’s blood.
A Witness Saw a Green SUV On the Avery Property
Truck driver John Leurquin was on the Avery property to fill a propane tank around 3:30pm. He was on the property for about 30 minutes, the time it takes to fill the tank. While filling the tank he saw a green SUV leave the Avery property. He didn’t see who was driving. This testimony would indicate authorities failed to investigate another possible suspect or witness present during Halbach’s mysterious disappearance.
More Investigative Bias
During Avery’s 2007 murder trial, Dean Strang tried to produce testimony that would show “investigative bias” by the state. He stated that Manitowoc County Coroner Debra Kakatsch was willing to testify that she was kept away from the crime scene entirely, by Calumet County authorities—which was illegal. She also received phone calls from a Manitowoc County executive and the county’s top attorney who told her not to investigate the case.
The Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department argued that they wanted to prevent a conflict of interest in having the coroner investigate—due to Avery’s $36 million lawsuit—but, they concluded it was not a conflict of interest to have Manitowoc deputies participate in the investigation. Strang said in court, “I do think that’s a double standard….I don’t know the reasons, but that’s what juries are for.”
Judge Patrick Wilson of Manitowoc County wouldn’t allow Strang’s argument to be heard by the jury.
Deer Blood was Found in Avery’s Garage
Strang explained that crime scene investigators uncovered small droplets of deer blood all over Avery’s garage. This is an interesting find because the prosecution explained that the reason Halbach’s blood and DNA weren’t found in Avery’s garage was because he and Brendan Dassey thoroughly cleaned it. If Avery and Dassey had cleaned the garage as thoroughly as the prosecution claimed, there should not have been traces of deer blood on the cement.
An Unreliable State Expert
During Steven Avery’s trial defense lawyer Jerry Buting cross-examined DNA forensic scientist Sherry Culhane. Culhane was the prosecution’s expert witness who testified Halbach’s DNA was found on the bullet in Avery’s garage—and she also admitted that she contaminated the control sample.
During her testimony Buting showed the jury that Culhan delayed the DNA test that proved Avery’s innocence for his 1985 conviction for a year, and she testified that hair found on Avery’s shirt in the 1985 Penny Bernstein case was consistent with Penny’s. Buting also pointed out that the state’s DNA expert had an error rate highest in her group.
The Bullet Evidence Was Inconclusive
Kratz has stated ballistics proved the bullet discovered in Avery’s garage (four months into the investigation) was fired from Avery’s .22 caliber rifle; however, Buting disputes this. He told Rolling Stone that the testing done wasn’t actually called ballistics; the testing done on the bullet was “tool mark evidence, which looks for certain markings and grooves to link the bullet to a particular type of firearm, or if enough evidence is present, to one particular gun.
Buting stated, “This single bullet that was recovered from the garage had her apparent DNA on it was a flattened bullet, it was not a pristine bullet where you could see the, clear tool marks. And so, you know, Mr. Kratz wants to argue that there was proof that that bullet came from the .22 rifle that was found in Mr. Avery’s trailer, but that’s not really the case. It was similar, but they could not completely exclude any other gun.”