Avery’s Finger Bled How Much After 10+ Days?

Steven Avery Showing a cut on his right middle finger

One of the linchpins of Steven Avery’s defense, led by attorneys Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, during his trial for the murder of Teresa Halbach was a vial of blood kept in evidence at the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department.  Contents from this vial, it was strongly suggested were used to plant blood in Teresa Halbach’s 1999 Toyota RAV4.  

However,  Zellner’s very recent motion filed on June 7th, 2017 dispelled the notion that the blood found in Teresa’s RAV4 came from this vial.  Instead, she sites the source of Steven Avery’s blood found in Teresa’s vehicle as coming from a cut on his right middle finger.  

According to the theory propounded in Kathleen Zellner’s motion, Steven Avery reopened a wound on his hand on November 3, 2005 while unhitching a trailer.  Immediately thereafter, he went into his trailer where he deposited blood from this wound onto his bathroom sink.  Immediately after hastily applying tape to this wound, he left with his brother Chuck to go to Menards, a local home improvement store.  Within minutes of his departure, Ryan Hillegas surreptitiously  entered Steven Avery’s trailer, obtained the blood left in the sink, and then redeposited this blood in various places in Teresa Halbach’s RAV4, presumably located on the far corner of Avery Salvage yard where it would eventually be found on the morning of November 5th, 2005.

Leaving aside, for the moment, how fortuitous the reopening of this wound was for Ryan Hillegas, Zellner’s motion raises VERY serious questions about the plausibility of this scenario.

As I’ve mentioned before, blood begins to coagulate immediately upon leaving the body, reaching a completely gelatinous state as soon as 15 minutes.  Zellner, in citing an affidavit submitted by a Dr. Blum, includes a reference to this in her motion:

“The killer recognized that the blood had to be planted quickly, within 15-28 minutes and before it coagulated. (Affidavit of Dr. Blum, P-C Group Exhibit 47, ii 12).”

One of the takeaways here is that all of the theories positing that the blood belonging to Steven Avery found in Teresa Halbach’s RAV4 could have been reconstituted with water or some other liquid would seem to be wrong.  Thus, Ryan had only a very small window of opportunity.

But according to the affidavit, the blood in the sink was from an earlier wound that had been reopened.  So when, and how was that earlier wound sustained?  Paragraph 117 of the motion provides a clue:

Mr. Johnson, a family friend of the Avery’s and owner of Mr. Avery’s trailer, remembers observing the cut on Mr. Avery’s finger at least one week prior to October 31. 2005. (Affidavit of Roland A. Johnson (“Affidavit of Rollie Johnson”), attached and incorporated herein as P-C Exhibit 7).

I must admit that this seems odd.  If Rollie Johnson saw a cut on Steven Avery’s finger a week prior to October 31, 2005, and therefore ten days before November 3rd, nevermind how many days it was since the cut was sustained (something we still do not know)  I find it unlikely that it would have reopened, and if it had, even more unlikely that it would have bled as much as the motion suggests that it did.  

There is a source of information about how the cut was initially sustained, and it can be found in Kurt Chandler’s article, Blood Simple (Milwaukee Magazine May 1, 2006):

The blood in his bathroom came from a work accident, he claimed, when he loaded a flatbed truck with tin roofing and cut his finger. “Then every time I broke it open, it bled like a stuffed pig.”

The statement that the blood in the bathroom sink came from a work accident when Steven Avery loaded a flatbed truck with tin roofing would appear to contradict the claim in Zellner’s motion that the blood came from a wound that was reopened when Avery was unhitching a trailer.  Nevertheless, Kurt Chandler is clearly paraphrasing part of Avery’s statement, and even so, it is not necessarily contradictory.  

There is an imprecision that we all use, to one degree or another, in describing events and incidents.  It could just as easily be that Steven is first describing that he cut his finger loading tin roofing materials onto his brother’s flatbed.  Then, we it reopened later and bled like a stuffed pig, he went into the bathroom where he deposited the blood.

A little further along in the same article, we read:

Avery was at the cabin in Crivitz helping to install a tin roof and butchering chickens on the day Halbach’s car was found…

This is interesting because if the original wound happened before October 24th, and the trip to Crivitz was on the 5th of November, that would seem to be a long time to be hauling around tin roofing material on a truck whose main purpose was to tow broken down vehicles.  Is it possible that Steven Avery made a trip out to the Crivitz property with tin roofing material sometime between October 24th and November 5th?

Finally, as concerning Kurt Chandler’s Blood Simple, there is even more about the right hand:

Avery returned to Manitowoc County in a friend’s car three days later, [November 8th] a thick bandage conspicuously wrapped around his right hand.

I’ve tried to reach Kurt Chandler to find out where and how he got this information, but so far without success.  By Chandler’s description one gets the impression that the bandage in question went all the way around the entire hand as opposed to an individual finger.  Did Steven Avery sustain any other injuries to his right hand that no one has yet uncovered?  I’ve yet to hear about any.

But maybe it is so that Mr. Chandler isn’t being as precise as he might have been.  Maybe he or the person supplying him with information really mean finger instead of hand.  If this is so, it would seem to actually affirm Steven’s claim that the wound to his right middle finger had a tendency to reopen unexpectedly, and it is here where, for once, we can leave the soggy ground of speculation to plant our feet firmly on the bedrock of fact: Steven Avery was not wearing a bandage on his finger during at least part of the time he was in Crivitz between November 5th and 8th. We know this because news crews recorded footage of Steven Avery’s finger and it did not have a bandage.

 

 

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