Ken Kratz Needs To Get His Facts Straight About Our Encounter
I haven’t bought Ken Kratz’s new book: Avery: The Case Against Avery and What “Making A Murderer Gets Wrong although I have seen it on shelves at Barnes & Noble. But someone on twitter gave me a heads up about the section of the book where I am mentioned by name which I didn’t know about till then.
In case the text in the tweet is too small or unclear to read on your device, this is what it says:
When a man named Daniel Luke traveled all the way from Oregon in January 2016 to stake out my office, and film our confrontation for YouTube—the copos had to threaten an arrest to get him to leave. He later returned to my office parking lot to leave “some DNA” on my door handles, and film my license plate for the benefit of future vandals.
Amazing how much Ken Kratz can get wrong in just a couple of sentences. First, I didn’t stake out his office but I did pay him a visit there. Is it stalking or harassing someone to knock on the door of someone’s law practice? Isn’t a law office open to the public during normal business hours? There was no signage indicating otherwise.
So I knocked on the door of the Ken Kratz law firm hardly expecting that he’d answer. But he did, and when he did, I asked him whether he’d be be willing to answer a few questions about Making A Murderer. He said no, and immediately went back into his office, closing the door behind him. I knocked on his door a few more times, and called out to him through the mail slot hoping he might change his mind. I’d come all the way from Oregon (he did at least get that part right), so I didn’t want to give up without making a thoroughgoing effort. But he didn’t respond, so I left. Here is the video:
That would have been the end of it, but I was circling around the area in my rental trying to find a cafe to go to, so I drove past his office again maybe ten minutes after leaving, and noticed several cop cars there. And then I noticed Kratz walking toward his car with a few officers in tow. I made a U-turn to catch up with him, parked, got out of the car, and tried once more to get Ken to answer questions. The police were standing in front of him at this time, so he doesn’t say a word. Instead, he just gets in his car and drives away. The cops never ask me to leave, nor do they issue a trespass warrant. What they did do, however, is let me know that Kratz told them that he was on his way to the nearby courthouse.
My purpose there was not to harass or embarrass Kratz. My purpose was to see if he’d be willing to answer the questions that I had. Up to that time, Kratz had already begun a media offensive defending his role as prosecutor, while at the same time claiming that Making A Murderer deliberately left out important evidence which the filmmakers knew about to create a stronger impression of Steven Avery’s innocence than was warranted.
What most of my readers probably don’t know is that Ken Kratz and I actually exchanged quite a few emails before this encounter. Primarily, I expressed to Kratz in written form my concern that Ryan Hillegas had not been properly investigated, and that it was he who really looked like the real killer. Kratz never addressed any of the points I made, preferring instead to counter with a prepared laundry list of points— “excluded” evidence, he calls it—and he’s been trotting out some variation of this list ever since he’s become one of the focal points of the media interest of post-release Making A Murderer coverage.
The exchanges I had with Kratz occurred before he became a media baby, and their purpose was merely to begin an honest dialog. At the time, it was my view that he and the rest of Manitowoc were the hapless victims of the criminal mind of Ryan Hillegas. And I was always quick to make the point that, as physically repulsive as we may all find Kratz, if he was doing his job in the sincere belief in Avery’s and Dassey’s guilt, he was really the victim of the perpetrator almost as much as anyone else. Having expressed this sympathetic view to Kratz, I was one of the first people to receive a personal response with a summation of this “excluded” evidence, and I received it before he went on radio and television shows doing everything in his power to debunk Making A Murderer.
The main things that Ken Kratz now claims that Making A Murderer deliberately left out in order to mislead viewers are below, but this truncated list has been pared down considerably from the fourteen or so items it had originally contained. But the core still remains, and this is what it is:
- the hood latch DNA which he originally erroneously called “sweat DNA”
- the bullet in the garage that had Teresa’s DNA on it (supposedly)
- the fact that Teresa’s bones were entangled in tire cording in the backyard burn pit
- Avery’s use of *67 to “lure” Teresa to a property she’s already been to five times in the past.
To see the full list, you have to see the provided documentation (1), (2). In these web documents, I carefully go through each claim Kratz makes, and I offer counter questions that neither Kratz, nor anyone else has ever addressed. This is a big part of why I felt compelled to go see him in person. I wish it didn’t have to fall on my shoulders, but media people just never did their job, and a skilled liar/manipulator like Kratz just ran circles around all of them whenever he was in front of a television camera or radio microphone.
By now, no one has been more out in front of the media than Kratz, and he’s almost single-handedly been able to get people to see things from his warped and self-interested perspective (thinly masquerading as dispassionate objectivity). The media seems to not be aware that Kratz might have his own motives for presenting his counter claims in a certain light. But he is treated like as though he is a lone, almost heroic crusader against storing telling which has been sloppy with the facts.
Worsening matters, everyone with a large media profile in this case that could have served as a media counterbalance to Kratz went missing. Jerry Buting and Dean String went on a global lecture tour, and gave few interviews. And when they did, they were generally circumspect in the criticisms of Kratz, and the claims he was making.
Filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi gave a few interviews but never showed much appetite for directly engaging Ken Kratz. Kathleen Zellner has taken to Twitter to send out cryptic tweets every now and then, but she has not taken on the role, for now, as Kratz’s opposition within the realm of public opinion.
I’m not faulting any of them for this, because I don’t think even they realized or realize to this day who they were dealing with. And to be honest, it should have been the job of reporters to research much more carefully the claims Kratz has been making. Even to this day no one has done that. Well, no one but me, and some of the people who are active on Reddit.
For those who were outraged by the depiction of American criminal justice shown to us in Making A Murderer, these feelings were seldom validated in any way by the American media. I can’t say why this is exactly, but one working theory I have is that it is an embarrassment to them. This is our justice system? Instead of acknowledging their wholesale dereliction of one of the most important issues facing the vast underclass of poor Americans, it was far more convenient to borrow from Ken Kratz and throw shade on the integrity of the filmmakers.
Take the Kathryn Schultz article in the January 26, 2016 edition of the New Yorker. For those who are unfamiliar, the New Yorker is widely viewed as a liberal publication, the very kind that you would ordinarily think would be sympathetic to independent lesbian filmmakers presenting pathbreaking work on the abysmal state of criminal justice in the United States. In other words, the New Yorker is basically the exact opposite of what Fox News and Nancy Grace are. This is the most telling paragraph:
Yet “Making a Murderer” never provokes the type of intellectual and psychological oscillation so characteristic of Koenig and Snyder’s “Serial.” Instead, 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. The filmmakers minimize or leave out many aspects of Avery’s less than savory past, including multiple alleged incidents of physical and sexual violence. They also omit important evidence against him, including the fact that Brendan Dassey confessed to helping Avery move Halbach’s S.U.V. into his junk yard, where Avery lifted the hood and removed the battery cable. Investigators subsequently found DNA from Avery’s perspiration on the hood latch—evidence that would be nearly impossible to plant.
You see? Kathryn Schultz is a brilliant woman who wrote Being Wrong, one of the best books I’ve ever read. And I’m far from alone in this view. Many people who are renowned for their brains have said the same thing about the book. Even former President BIll Clinton weighted in with a glowing encomium. But Kratz was able to get to her through the media because it was only Ken Kratz who ever claimed that the DNA was from “sweat”, a claim that has been thoroughly debunked, and it was only he who would have claimed that the hood latch did contain “sweat” DNA because it is Ken Kratz’s habit to make up things like this.
When I saw how the media was handling the aftermath of the showing of Making A Murderer, I was incensed. “How could the main villain in this saga be the one given the biggest media megaphone?”, I constantly wondered It just seemed to me to be more than a little Kafkaesque. And not only that, but the media who interviewed Kratz all seemed to be in a fugue state, completely incapable of asking any question that challenged a single dubious notion that Ken Kratz had taken great care to define, memorize, and promulgate.
Who was going to ask Kratz the tough questions? If no one else was willing to do it, I may as well make an attempt, I thought. So that’s exactly what I did by traveling out to his law firm.
It didn’t go as planned, however. I did take video the encounter because I wanted a record of whatever exchange might take place between Kratz and I. Once captured, I hoped that it would show that Kratz was obviously unwilling to go off of his talking points for anyone outside of the official precincts of the main stream media, and that he was so afraid of answering difficult questions that he would avoid them at all cost behind a closed door, a cop screen, or, if necessary a flight on foot. I had further hoped that this would make people begin to more seriously question his credibility, but that’s not exactly what happened.
The outcome was the I was the one who came under fire for asking Kratz questions. The term “harassment” and “stalker” were mentioned a great deal, even by those who had come to despise Kratz. In America, alas, many have relegated the function of asking people questions to someone else. And when you do ask people questions, they respond in ways that make you think we are living in a place not much different than East Germany under the Stassi. The below clip is me talking to a few people outside a bar in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
Questioning Kratz was the secondary reason for my trip to Wisconsin. The primary reason was to attend a protest being held on the steps of the Manitowoc County Courthouse. That lasted only one day, and after it was over, I decided, while I was still in Wisconsin, I’d drive the five or so hours to Superior, to see if Ken might be willing to talk to anyone not affiliated with big media. Going to Superior Wisconsin was truly an afterthought.
As I’ve hopefully convinced you by now, it is really Ken Kratz, much more so than filmmaker’s Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos who is sloppy with facts. If I haven’t convinced you with the ironclad proof of video that he manages to get several things wrong inside the span of a single paragraph, there I have to conclude that you are being willfully blind.
In Kratz’s defense, I will say that I had held the view of him as a highly unreliable source of information because of an incurable form of pathological lying, but given how gross his errors have been of late, I now have to entertain whether his mental faculties are foggy for more organic, and thus readily identifiable reasons.
Why in the hell would he have have thought that I wanted to leave MY DNA on HIS car door handles? I make it very clear of the video that I shot of that it was his DNA that I was after in case it should ever be needed. I captured all of this on video as well:
To provide a little background for this vignette, there’s a parking lot adjacent to where Kratz had his law office, and I actually bought a box of sterile gauze and very carefully swabbed his door handles with it to get his DNA sample. Just for laughs, I also tried to get a swab of his hood latch, but I wasn’t able to do so because the hood latch on the particular model of car that he drive wasn’t accessible without first popping the hood.
Once I was able to obtain a sample of Kratz’s DNA, I made haste to cross the state line from Superior Wisconsin where Kratz’s firm was located, across the river to Duluth Minnesota. In short order, I was able to find one of those stores which has everything needed to ship things, got an small manilla envelope, bought and affixed postage, and mailed the parcel containing the DNA.
Lastly, Kratz claims that I took photographs of his car for the benefit of future vandals. This is simply not true. His car was parked out in front of his law firm under a number that corresponded with his office number withing the building where he had his office. I put up a post of the back of his vehicle without the plate being blacked out, but someone mentioned that I should black it out, and that’s exactly what I did. I would never advocate that someone advocate harming Kratz or his property.
My goal with Kratz is to expose him so he cannot hurt other people. I’m upset by what he’s done, but I do not harbor ill will against him. My guess about Kratz is that those who have gotten to know him realize that he has major problems. I’m willing to bet that his wives all think he’s a liar who cannot be trusted, and I would also be willing to bet that even before the sexual assault scandal that caused him to lose his position as DA became public news, his colleagues had very little respect for him. At the end of the day, Kratz is suffering from some kind of mental disorder over which he has little to no control. He suffers from a very tragic condition which has as its chief symptom the disdain of everyone who he comes in contact with.