Being Wronged By Kathryn Schultz Part II
continued from part I
Ms Schultz starts her January 2016 New Yorker piece, Dead Certainty, with a brief history lesson:
Argosy began in 1882 as a magazine for children and ceased publication ninety-six years later as soft-core porn for men, but for ten years in between it was the home of a true-crime column by Erle Stanley Gardner,
The tone doesn’t change much as you read further into the piece. Erle Stanley Gardner, she goes on to describe, wrote a true-crime column, The Court of Last Resort, within the pages of The Argosy for ten years and:
..took on seemingly guilty clients and proved their innocence.
The column was successful enough that in the late 1950s, Ms Schultz informs, NBC turned the stories into Perry Mason, a television series that ran for almost ten years. Since then there have been a slew of other shows following essentially the same template including Serial, the podcast breakout hit of last year created by Sara Koenig and Julie Snyder about Adnan Syed, a man serving a life sentence for killing his ex-girlfriend some twenty years ago.
Koenig unfavorably compares Making A Murderer to Serial because, in her view…
“Making a Murderer” never provokes the type of intellectual and psychological oscillation so characteristic of Koenig and Snyder’s “Serial.”
(Really, Kathryn? I found more the obverse to be so) Instead, she writes,
the documentary consistently leads its viewers to the conclusion that Avery was framed by the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department, and it contains striking elisions that bolster that theory.
Or maybe the documentary follows a trial in which the accused’s defense team puts forth such a theory at the behest of their client that strongly implicates the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department? And how is that the documentary gives short shrift to the prosecution’s side? Oh yes, by all of the “elisions” that Ken Kratz made up after the first few days of the initial showing and then found allies like Nancy Grace in tabloid journal and so began a media tour which continues to this day.
At least Ms Schultz had enough brains to make her own elision of Ken Kratz’s talking points by omitting the highly incriminating act of opening the front door in a towel.
The DNA under the hood latch is only one such article of evidence “excluded”, as Kratz likes to say, deliberately by the filmmakers to further a hidden agenda of some kind. Funny to think how movie makers, to say nothing of authors or news show correspondents are never accused of a similar bias when they put forth their evidence of the guilt of a particular individual. I digress.
Ms Schultz is apparently an expert in DNA and how it can and can’t get places because she assures her readers, without naming sources, that,
Investigators subsequently found DNA from Avery’s perspiration on the hood latch—evidence that would be nearly impossible to plant.
Ken Kratz likes to describe those he is prosecuting as being sweaty. Did you notice? I forget which scene, but Kratz is on record in the documentary in describing Steven Avery as a sweaty beast more than once. I suppose an effective prosecutor knows subtle ways to insinuate the visceral repulsiveness of those they prosecute, and Kratz was regarded as one of the best. But his obsession with Steven Avery’s sweat seems to have gone a little too far when Kratz all but presents himself as a DNA expert.
But Kratz isn’t a DNA expert. He’s a lawyer, and his charlatanesque disquisitions on DNA should not be listened to by anyone, and especially not by someone like Kathryn Schultz who has a lot on her shoulders writing for a publication as well regarded as the New Yorker.
Ask any DNA expert, and they will tell you that there is no such thing as “sweat” DNA, but even if there were, why should we be so surprised that Steven Avery’s DNA was found on the hood latch of Teresa Halbach’s vehicle? She’d been out to the salvage yard umpteen times (the figure I hear bandied about is fifteen!) Maybe Steven Avery, hoping to curry favor with an attractive female offered, as males with mechanical expertise of cars often do, to check something under the hood. People , like I, who know nothing about cars will ask, unbidden, questions of anyone who appears to have any knowledge whatsoever whenever a strange noise leads me to the suspicion that something has gone wrong. I’ve done it. You’ve done it, Teresa Halbach’s done it.
But if we’ve already been influenced by the wily Ken Kratz and we doubt that Teresa Halbach would ever have asked the likes of Steven Avery for such a tiny favor, we still have to account for why there were no fingerprints where the “sweat” DNA was found. And we have to account for a lot more than that including why there was no DNA on the battery cables, or inside the vehicle itself for that matter. It’s a sad day in Mudville when a man as concupiscent as Mr. Kratz is able to seduce a New York lesbian with this sort of nonsense.
The hood latch “evidence” is not an elision as Kathryn Schultz describes, but more of a favor if anything. That’s really your best shot, Ken? Kathryn? Let’s hear what Dean Strang has to say about these “elisions”. (he address the hood latch and more at about thirteen minutes in, but the entire interview is worth listening to)
And In case, dear reader, you might have lost touch with surreality, Kathryn Schultz brings the redoubtable Penny Beerensten back on stage for the dreadful sequel of poor Steven Avery’s first false eighteen-year-term imprisonment. Schultz had singled her out in her book, Being Wrong, as sort of the poster child of being wrong since she was so sure of Avery’s guilt the first go around and turned out, as we all now know (with the possible except of Kenny Petersen, the sheriff who, when asked by Dean Strang whether he was aware of Avery’s earlier innocence said, “I’m not so sure”) to be wrong.
Astonishingly, Penny refused to meet with the filmmakers of Making A Murderer because,
It was very clear from the outset that they believed Steve was innocent…I didn’t feel they were journalists seeking the truth. I felt like they had a foregone conclusion and were looking for a forum in which to express it.
How this woman should not have any lingering doubt in her mind about what seems to her to be “very clear from the outset” is beyond my ability to fathom. The testimony she presented put an innocent man away for eighteen years so you’d think that even if the filmmakers were demonstrably biased in favor of Avery, she could do him one solid by granting an interview with the only two people in town besides the Avery’s themselves, who might have doubted Ken Kratz’s narrative. However matronly Penny may appear to be in her dottage, I cannot help but wonder what callousness hides beneath the surface. Note too, that Penny can’t be bothered to explain why it was so clear form the outset that the filmmakers believed in Avery’s innocence. The most basic job of a reporter is to ask questions and to not take things at face value.
Part III coming soon