The Smoking Gun: Evidence of Planting, Lying, Deception and Misdirection By Wiegert and Fassbender

There is very little doubt in my mind at this point that Mark Wiegert and Thomas Fassbender deliberately misled Brendan Dassey into offering self-incriminating statements that they both knew were false.  I think it can be proven, and in the following paragraphs, I will attempt to do just that.

I spent a good portion of yesterday documenting the Wisconsin Crime Lab protocol which provides the procedures for logging a vehicle in for evidence collection.  It is clear that this protocol includes direction to disconnect a vehicle’s battery cables.

My present aim is to disambiguate exactly when the photographs of the hood latch and battery cables were taken, and whether it was ever asserted, or whether it can now be safely assumed for some reason that the battery cables in Teresa Halbach’s RAV4 were already disconnected while it was still at Avery Salvage yard.

I went through the trial transcripts where testimony was given by Ronald Groffy on day 10 of Steven Avery’s trial.  Groffy performed official duties at the Wisconsin State Crime Lab in Madison, Wisconsin on November 6th, 2006 under his title as image analyst.  On this occasion, this effectively meant he was the photographer for the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, and was in court to testify about state exhibits State exhibits 289-305.  All of these exhibits are of photographs of Teresa Halbach’s 1999 Toyota RAV4 taken the morning of November 6th, 2005.  These photographs, with the exception of one (it would appear), were of areas in the RAV4 were deposits of blood were found.  One such photograph, exhibit 304 is of Teresa’s battery cable, and this photograph shows that the battery has been disconnected.

Given the testimony that was given in court by Mr. Groffy, there is every reason to think that the battery cables shown in state exhibit 304 were already disconnected.  The significance of this can not be overstated.

First, no one for the state ever asserted that the RAV4 was found with its battery cables disconnected.  But, as a measure of misdirection, it was strongly implied by showing jury members exhibit 304.  And it should also be made clear that it is not completely certain that the photograph showing the disconnected battery was even taken on November 6th, 2005.

The reason this is not clear that the photograph in exhibit 304 was taken by Groffy is because Deputy Jeremy Hawkins is recorded in the CASO report (pp  886) as taking pictures of the hood latch AND the battery cables on 4/03/2006 at the storage shed on Ann and Frontier street, storage unit 7 in Calumet County.

As documented in the post preceding this one, Mr. Hawkins had to reconnect the battery cables the next time he went back to the storage shed, unit #7 on 11/20/2006.  CASO 1001. The purpose for the visit this time was to determine whether the key found near Steven Avery’s bookshelf would start Teresa’s RAV4.  It is documented, once again, that the battery cables were disconnected by Hawkins after he was done starting the vehicle and  before closing the storage shed.  This documentation once again affirms that Mr. Hawkins was aware of, and complying with established Wisconsin State Crime Lab protocol.

One thing is clear, however.  None of Groffy’s exhibits pertained to the photograph of the hood latch, which is officially listed as state exhibit 192.  The misdirection of the battery cable exhibit was then followed up with testimony from expert witness Culhane’s who was in court to weigh in about the DNA evidence found on the hood latch of Steven Avery’s RAV4.  Neither before, during, or after her testimony is exhibit 192 shown to the jury.

The likely reason it wasn’t shown is because the state wanted to avoid questions being raised on cross.  By showing jury members the picture of the disconnected battery cable, it would have naturally been assumed that the hood latch DNA evidence was collected when the photograph was taken, and that time would have been immediately after the RAV4 arrived at the crime lab in Madison on 11/06/2005.

The photograph of the disconnected battery cables was always meant to suggest that Steven Avery had opened the hood to Teresa’s vehicle, and one would naturally infer, once it was proven that Steven’s DNA was found on the hood latch, that the reason it was there is because he had opened the hood to Teresa’s RAV4.

But this was never more than a suggestion, or, if you will, a VERY clever and devious misdirection on the part of the prosecution.  And the inversion of this logic bodes very ill for the prosecution’s case: if Steven Avery did not disconnect the battery cables to the RAV4, then why would his DNA have been found on the hood latch?

There is one problem, however.  Guang Zhang testified on trial day #4 that the no one at Avery Salvage yard was able to get into the RAV4 on account of all the doors being locked.  If all the doors of the RAV4 were locked and the hood closed shut when Groffy arrived in Madison on the morning of 11/06/2005 to take photographs, then it could be ascertained that whatever photographs he might have taken of the battery would have represented the exact pristine state it had been in when it left Avery Salvage the evening before.  Groffy, once at the crime lab might have witnessed someone figuring out a way to open the driver’s side door, and then might have witnessed someone popping the hood open.

But that is not what happens!  Groffy testifies that the driver’s side door was already opened when he arrived.

Buting: Okay. And did you, with your gloved hands, try the driver’s door handle?

Groffy: Yes, I did.

Buting: It was locked or unlocked?

Groffy: The driver’s door was unlocked when I got there.

Buting: But with respect to the RAV4 pictures, do you know,  were all of those taken on November 6th, or were  some of them also taken on the 8th? And if so,  do you know which ones were on the 6th and which ones were on the 8th? That’s my question.

Buting: Okay. Could you just tell us which ones, if any, were taken on the 6th?

Groffy: That would be State’s Exhibit 289, 290, 292, and 293, of the ones that I have.

Buting: All right. Just a couple more things. There’s three new exhibits that I have given you; would  you take a look at those. Oh, by the way, just  so we’re clear, all of the other photographs that we didn’t discuss as having been taken on  November 6; were those taken on November 8th?

Groffy: They would have been taken on November 7th and 8th.

The photograph of the battery was exhibit 304 which means that it would have been taken on either the 7th or 8th.  This would after two full days of processing the vehicle.  There is no way that the photograph of the battery cables depicts the way the vehicle as it first arrived from Avery Salvage.

Furthermore, when Fassbender and Wiegert ordered swabs and pictures on 4/03/2006, the order was for both the battery cables AND the hood latch.  This is absolute proof that they were both trying to establish a connection between these two items.  If they both knew that the battery cables would have been disconnected, why would they have suddenly suspected that there would be DNA on the hood latch?  Bear in mind too, that the by the time these swabs and photographs were taken, the RAV4 had been remanded to the evidence shed located in Calumet County.  And guess who would have had been able to get into this storage shed?  People like Kratz, Wiegert, and Fassbender, perhaps?

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  • AND Wendy Baldwin. She was always more than willing to “add some evidence” to the Rav4. *Cough* Band aid.