The Case Against Steven Avery
To get anywhere in thinking about this question the first thing I do is reject almost all of the state’s evidence and arguments. If one does otherwise, there is no way to come to any other conclusion but that Avery is innocent. That is not why I do it though. I do it because that state’s narrative is incoherent so I have no other choice.
Ken Kratz, in a fog of his own narcissism and perversion spun a vivid and horrific tale that, upon close scrutiny, was not supported by a shred of evidence. No blood in neither the trailer nor garage where the murder was supposed to have taken place. Brendan Dassey’s confession is unreliable, to say the least. All of the evidence that was found was found under highly suspicious circumstances. I find it bit sobering to think that despite the fact that there are many people on both sides of Steven Avery’s guilt, none of this would have mattered and it all and would have remained permanently forgotten were it not for the Netflix documentary, Making A Murderer. Chilling.
If I believe that Steven Avery is innocent, I feel like it is incumbent upon me to consider all ways that I might be wrong, and even try to be creative in imagining how I might be wrong. For example, just because I reject the state’s narrative, this does not mean that Steven Avery did not kill Teresa Halbach. In a court of law, had I been a juror, I would have been obliged to weigh all of the inconsistencies in the state’s case, even if I thought he was the likely killer because, as I understand it, you are supposed to vote according to the evidence presented and not your own pet theories and speculations. But after the fact, I cannot protest Steven Avery’s innocence on the basis of what I think should have been the proper legal outcome of his trial. I am after truth here, and I believe that takes a discipline of mind.
To begin the inquiry into the matter of whether Steven Avery killed Teresa Halbach, I can only proceed from what I know for sure. Teresa is dead. Teresa met with Steven Avery at Avery Salvage Yard near Steven’s trailer on October 31st sometime in the afternoon. No one reported seeing Teresa after this time. Teresa’s RAV4 was found on Steven Avery’s property on November 5, 2005. Steven Avery’s and Teresa Halbach’s blood was found in the RAV4.. Steven’s DNA was found under the hood latch of Teresa’s RAV4. Steven Avery had a large cut on his right middle finger that he himself speculates was the source of blood in Teresa’s RAV4.
None of this looks good for Steven Avery. In fact, unless there is a compelling explanation for the things listed above, never mind the state’s official narrative, you really have no other choice but to admit that Avery is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Further, the fact that I reject the state’s narrative actually helps the state in a way if I am to be logically consistent. For example, in my conceptualization, if I start with a clean slate, that means the state is relieved of the burden of trying to explain why there was no blood found where they claim the murder took place, and how they claim the murder took place because I am entertaining the thought that the murder might have been carried in some completely different way that would have left no blood in the trailer or garage.
I am even obliged to take this a step further on behalf of the state: if I relieve the state of the burden of explaining the absence of blood in either the trailer or garage, they are also relieved of the burden of explaining the inconsistency in how Steven Avery attempted to cover up the crime. One of the big problems with the official state narrative is the fact that it is claimed that Avery was careful to remove blood evidence from his garage where they say he killed Teresa. If so, how is it that he then utterly failed to remove evidence from the victim’s vehicle. The state has never had a good answer for this. If I acknowledge the possibility that Steven might have killed Teresa elsewhere besides his trailer or garage, then I also have to admit that there is no longer an inconsistency, necessarily in how evidence was removed.
Having started with a mental tabula rasa as a first step in analyzing this case, the next step for me is to look at whether there might be one thing that could lead us directly to answer. Whenever there is a crime, there are certain things that can automatically rule out a suspect. If investigators find out that a promising suspect has a solid alibi when the crime was committed, he can be ruled out. If a crime happened at 6:00pm on a Friday in New York City, but it is determined that a suspect was in London at this time, we can automatically conclude, very extraordinary evidence notwithstanding, that the suspect should be cleared. If someone someone’s bloody palm print was left at the scene of the crime, we should be able to quickly rule out the man who has no arms, again, notwithstanding extraordinary circumstances.
As with the man with no arms and the person who was in London, it is easy to establish agreement between all parties because there are certain hard truths that are simply beyond dispute among reasonable people, and once everyone agrees on something, you can move up the chain of reason to rule out the next thing. So let’s begin with the one and only thing that everyone agrees on at this point: the blood that was found in Teresa Halbach’s RAV4 came from the cut on Steven Avery’s right middle finger.
This fact makes the timing and the circumstances surrounding when and how this cut occurred of paramount importance. There is a lot here to untangle, and nothing in Zellner’s June, 2017 motion did anything at all to help, and in a lot of ways further muddied the waters by making matters look even worse for her client than they already do.
When did Steven Avery FIRST sustain this cut? Astonishingly we still do not know the answer to this question, and the motion that Kathleen Zellner filed in June does little to help us out. We only know a few things from the motion. The first is that Steven Avery “reopened” the cut on his finger on November 3rd, 2005 when he attempted to unhitch his sister’s trailer.
The second thing we know in the motion about the cut on Avery’s finger is this:
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.
Clearly Zellner includes this person’s statement in the motion to create serious doubt about the possibility that the cut on Avery’s finger was sustained during the commission of a murder on October 31st. But if that was her intent, she inadvertently creates doubt about the veracity of Steven’s statement contending that he reopened that wound on November 3rd, nearly two weeks later. The reason this is so is that wounds don’t typically reopen after so much time has passed, and if they do, they do not bleed profusely the way Avery describes. But if Zellner attempts to adduce evidence from some expert that cuts do open after two weeks and that they bleed in the manner described in the motion (quite profusely), this still doesn’t help her get out of the hole that she’d dug for herself.
Why? Because if a wound sustained two weeks prior to November 3rd could have reopened and bled, then it is even more likely that it could have reopened and bled on October 31st, 2005, the day Teresa Habach was murdered.
One also is also left wondering why she just doesn’t put down Avery’s account, start to finish, of how and when he cut his finger originally?
The only other piece of information about the cut on Avery’s finger comes from an article in Milwaukee Magazine written by Kurt Chandler. In this article, Blood Simple, Chandler writes:
In a jailhouse interview with Milwaukee Magazine, Avery skillfully explained away each piece of incriminating evidence. 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 reference to blood in the sink and the fact that his wound kept reopening are consistent with what was included in the motion. But there is something that seems inconsistent here or, at the very least needs a lot more detail.
The problem with the above scenario is that the events that would favor Avery’s innocence are out of sync. I can imagine a scenario in which Avery went with his brother Chuck to Menard’s to buy some tin roofing material and then cut his finger on said material while loading the truck. On the way back to the salvage yard, it would have bled quite a bit. Chuck, wishing to protect his truck, would have insisted that Steven keep the blood off his seat cushions, and I can imagine that he would have wrapped his bleeding finger in a towel or a bunch of napkins, perhaps, to prevent this from happening before getting back into the truck and driving away.
I can also imagine that the wound could have reopened at this point if Steven used his hand to do anything strenuous like unhitch a trailer. But I am only inferring, despite the affidavit from Mr. Johnson, that the time of the reopening of the wound and the time when the wound was originally sustained happened close together in time.
The problem here is that by the reading of Zellner’s motion, one is drawn to the conclusion that Avery’s hand was already bleeding before the trip to Menard’s and that it reopened when he returned home when he unhitched his sister’s trailer.
This is just a guess though. If Steven had gone to Menard’s at some point prior, then the inconsistencies in his story fall away. But the more time there is between when the wound was originally sustained and the time that it reopened and began to bleed profusely, the more dubious this sounds because wounds generally don’t bleed profusely very much longer after the original bleeding stops.
Either way this looks bad for Zellner because you either have an embarrassing omission that can easily be exploited, or you have a contradiction which makes it look like her client is lying. I’m not necessarily suggesting either, but what I am suggesting is that to leave the matter hanging was really sloppy work.
Or maybe Zellner was forced into a corner from which there was no escape? One of the main themes contained within the motion was that Ryan Hillegas was a much more probable killer. When Zellner finally realized that the vial of blood that Avery’s original attorney’s wasn’t the source of blood in the RAV4, she had no choice but to listen to Avery who had said all along that the blood had come from his finger.
This set up a situation in which Zellner needed to explain how Ryan could have obtained Avery’s blood, and how he could have planted that blood in Teresa’s RAV4. I will give Zellner some credit by rejecting harebrained scenarios that were bandied about for months and months on Reddit. At least she had the wisdom to know that it was not going to go over to pin the planting of the blood evidence on Coburn or Lenk or something even crazier.
the scenario she did describe was still pretty crazy, and might have obtained, somewhat were it not for one fatal flaw: the person she finally fingered as the planter of the blood evidence in the RAV4, Ryan Hillegas, had a rock solid alibi for the time he was supposed to be sneaking around the Avery property when Chuck and Steven were off to Menard’s. Hillegas simply could not have been the one who planted the blood the way Zellner describes in her motion, and if she or her staff had done just a little bit of work she would never have embarrassed herself, again, with a wildly implausible scenario such as the one she described in her motion.
So where does that leave us? That leaves us with another implausible scenario, frankly. My theory is that for Steven Avery to be innocent, he had to have cut his finger on the morning of November 5th as he was leaving to go up to Crivitz to install the tin roofing over the chicken coup. In Blood Simple, Kurt Chandler wrote,
Avery was at the cabin in Crivitz helping to install a tin roof and butchering chickens on the day Halbach’s car was found.
We know that it was Chuck who drove up this tin roofing on his flatbed because on the 5th or 6th of November, 2005, it was impounded by the Crivitz Sheriff’s Department.
If you put the above statement together with the statement of Avery’s from Blood Simple that I quoted a few paragraphs up:
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.”
This is the best fit there is, albeit not perfect if you follow my argument. Zellner, quoting Mr. Johnson, wants to put the cut on Steven’s finger weeks before October 31st. But here, if Kurt Chandler’s reporting is accurate, Steven claims to have cut his finger while loading tin roofing material, presumably for the chicken coup in Crivitz which we know he went to install on the November 5th. Was the roofing material purchased weeks ahead of time? To me, it seems far more likely that the roofing material was purchased on November 3rd when it is documented on store security that Chuck and Steven were at Menard’s. In fact, the motion indicates that there is video evidence of the two being in the store. I wonder if we see in that video any evidence that tin roofing material was being purchased? That would be very interesting.
Looking at this without cynicism, I might think that Steven Avery was a little muddled as anyone would be after the passage of twelve or so years about the exact sequence of events. My guess is that Chuck and Steven got the tin roofing material from Menard’s on November 3rd, and then brought it back to the salvage yard to unload from Chuck’s flatbed tow truck.
Speaking of which, if Chuck was using it at that time for that purpose, and I’m sure he was, the first thing he would have wanted to do when he got back home from Menard’s on November 3rd was unload the tin roofing material somewhere at Avery Salvage Yard with the intent to reload it on the 5th for the trip to Crivitz. This would have been necessary to do so the truck could still be used in the interim for its intended purpose.
The cynical view is that once Zellner decided that Hillegas had to have been on the Avery property on November 3rd, 2005, at the precise window of time that Steven and Chuck had left for Menard’s, she somehow persuaded Avery to go along with the sequence and description of the events found within the motion even though this could not have been what actually happened.
So, if Ryan Hillegas didn’t plant the blood in the RAV4, who did? The only other possible person it could have been besides Ryan Hillegas is Ken Kratz, and the only place he could have done it was either as the trailer was being hauled out to Madison by Nick Mirsberger after it had been loaded onto a trailer at Avery Salvage Yard, or at the Madison crime lab itself. I would stake just about everything on this being true, and if it is not, then it means that Steven Avery killed Teresa Halbach, and not Ryan Hillegas as I had earlier supposed.
This theory might seem to be as outlandish as Zellner’s or anyone else’s for that matter, and I too would be inclined to reject it myself were it not for the fact that there is irrefutable proof of one thing that I know for sure: the picture of the key found on the floor of Steven Avery’s bedroom does not match the picture of the official evidence key. Knowing that someone planted evidence changes everything.
Zellner’s theory has at least two people planting evidence: Hillegas and also Lenk. My theory requires only one person: Kratz. It is already heavily against the odds to have one person in official capacity to plant evidence. For there to be two, the odds are almost incalculable.
One may wonder, after reading this far, why I still cling to Avery’s innocence. After all, just because evidence was planted, that doesn’t mean Avery didn’t do it. In fact, one might say that if you look at the totality of the circumstances, it seems likely that Avery DID do it despite the fact that there might have been a little official corruption somewhere along the way.
Frankly, since Zellner’s motion I have become much more sympathetic to this argument, but until I know the whereabouts of Ken Kratz at around midnight on November 6th, 2016, I still have to reject it for the following reasons, and the remainder of the things which I know to be true:
- The blood of Steven Avery’s found around the ignition switch of Teresa’s RAV4 does not look like it was transferred by someone’s bloody finger. Rather, it has very obviously been applied
- I do not believe the killer would have left the victim’s vehicle on his own property.
- Steven Avery didn’t have visible, fresh fingernail scratches on his hands. Ryan Hillegas did.
- Statistically, a woman is far, far more likely to be killed by a scorned lover than a total stranger. It is established fact that Ryan Hillegas was just such a scorned lover.