It’s All Coming Together Now
While trying to find out as much as possible about the battery cables, I suddenly realized today that I’ve been looking with tunnel vision at only the Avery case, forgetting that the trial of Brendan Dassey reveals just as much if not more. In fact, it is only during the trial of Brendan Dassey that it is unmistakably asserted that the battery cables to the RAV were found to be disconnected upon first opening the hood after the the vehicle had arrived at the State of Wisconsin Crime Lab in Madison on 11/06/2005 (even though the photographs of the vehicle documenting the disconnected cables were not taken until two days later). During the Avery trial, no statement was ever made, nor any evidence ever put forward to address the crucial matter of whether Teresa’s RAV4 arrived at the crime lab in Madison, WI with the battery cables already disconnected, but it was strongly and deliberately implied by certain feats of legerdemain on the part of the prosecution.
In the Dassey trial, it is stated as certain fact that the battery cables were already disconnected by the time it had arrived in Madison for processing on November 6th, 2005.
So, below, I quote directly from the transcripts of Brendan Dassey’s trial. Norm Gahn is the prosecutor, and he is questioning Nick Stahlke, a blood expert in the employee of the Wisconsin Crime Lab. Gahn begins with a few questions about the odometer reading, but the examination quickly delves into establishing whether the RAV4 arrived at the crime lab with the battery cables already disconnected.
Remember that this is a crucial question because Steven Avery’s DNA had been found on the hood latch. Thomas Fassbender, the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigations agent who interviewed Brendan Dassey on multiple occasions with Mark Wiegert asked Brendan this question: “What did he do under the hood, if that’s what he did?”, and Mark Wiegert, during the same interrogation also asks Brendan, “Did he tell you that he unhooked the battery on her jeep?”
Conveniently, it was Fassbender and Wiegert who ordered that the hood latch and the battery cables be swabbed for DNA on 04/03/2006 before their interview with Brendan on 05/20/2006.
The hood latch DNA and the disconnected battery cables go together for the state. If the state can prove that the RAV4 was discovered at Avery Salvage with the battery cables already disconnected, then finding Steven Avery’s DNA on the hood latch would make perfect sense.
Despite the court testimony that you are about to read given by Nick Stahlke during Brendan Dassey’s trial, the crucial fact of the battery cables being disconnected when the RAV4 arrived at Avery Salvage on 11/06/2005 was never established. In fact, because Wisconsin’s Department of Criminal Investigations has an established, written protocol specifying that the battery cables of a vehicle impounded for the purposes of evidence collection be disconnected, there is every reason to believe that it was someone who worked at the crime lab in Madison who disconnected the battery cables to the RAV4.
Nick Stahlke testifies that when he inspected the RAV4 on November 8th, 2005 the hood of the vehicle had not yet been opened. The crime lab in Madison has NEVER provided any information whatsoever to indicate that the battery cables to Teresa’s RAV4 were already disconnected when the RAV4 was brought in for processing. The only two things that we do know for sure is that Groffy testified that the driver’s side door to the RAV4 was unlocked when he arrived in the late morning to take pictures, and we also know, of course about the the protocol that the State of Wisconsin has about disconnecting the batteries of vehicles impounded for evidence collection.
Gahn: Uh, I want to ask you, did the time come when you were asked to check the odometer on this vehicle?
Stahlke: Yes, there was.
Gahn: And — and, urn, what happened when you attempted to check the odometer?
Stahlke: I believe it was the second day. It would have been the 8th of November, then, that, uh, we got a call requesting that we check the odometer reading on this vehicle. Uh, when, uh, we attempted to, uh It’s a digital dashboard. So when we went to open or turn the key, there was — there was no electronics, uh, to this particular dashboard. So we couldn’t get the reading.
Gahn: So what did you do?
Stahlke: We, uh, opened up the — the hood of the, uh — to the engine compartment, and, uh, to checks — I was thinking that the battery was probably dead.
Gahn: And what did you find when you opened up the hood and looked under the hood?
Stahlke: Well, it’s — like indicated in this particular, uh, photograph, Exhibit 167, the battery cables were disconnected.
Gahn: And that’s how you found the vehicle on — when you saw it on November 7 of 2005 in your, urn, bay at the Crime Lab?
Stahlke: Yes. And I believe that actually it was November 8, 20 the second day that we were doing examinations that — on that vehicle. Uh, it hadn’t been checked prior to this, so this is the way it would have come into the laboratory.
For two days the vehicle sat in the crime lab, and no one touched it? No one popped the hood to look at the engine compartment? Why was the driver side door unlocked then when Groffy arrived mid-morning or later on the 6th? Was Stahlke on hand when the vehicle arrived at 1 am?
Moreover, if the established protocol was to disconnect the battery cables, the operative assumption, in the absence of any other information would be to assume that the protocol had been followed, not that it had not been.
Ruling that out, there are two other possibilities: Nick Stahlke was present when the RAV4 arrived in Madison on 11/6/2005 and kept watch over it the entire time until it was photographed on either 11/7/2005 or the day after, or because he was aware of a directive that had been issued by someone ordering to break with protocol. If the latter, then he would have said in court what that reason was.