Netflix true crime original docuseries Making a Murderer made its return earlier this month for a 10-episode second season, documenting the work done by both Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey’s legal teams in a bid to see them released from jail. For many, the standout ‘star’ of the show this year is Steven’s attorney Kathleen Zellner, who has done some incredible work in uncovering evidence that could work in her client’s favour (if he is indeed ever given the chance for a retrial). Whether you believe the pair did indeed murder Teresa Halbach or not, it’s hard to argue against these pieces of evidence put under the spotlight by Zellner.
Steven’s “active source of bleeding” and the RAV4 key
Former special prosecutor Ken Kratz led the cases against both Steven and Brendan in their original trials, and one of the most convincing pieces of evidence he put before the jury was the discovery of Teresa’s key to her RAV4 in Steven’s trailer. With his claim that Steven had an “active source of bleeding” on his middle finger however, which he says left a stain on the inside of the RAV4, he left himself open for some questioning - even though it’s come many years later.
Episode 1 of Part 2 sees Kathleen engage in some experimentation with blood spatter experts, where experimental blood is dripped onto the finger of one of her clerks, who then takes a key and turns on the engine of the RAV4 she’s bought specifically for this case. Doing so a number of times with different variables, it’s clear that no blood on the middle finger would ever be able to reach the spot in which blood was left in Teresa’s RAV4. Kathleen therefore concludes that this blood was planted.
The fact that the experimental blood was also left on the silver ring of the key, the steering wheel and the gear stick also didn’t escape her glare.
Blood spatter on the RAV4’s backdoor
Blood is found in a number of places through the RAV4, with one of them being on the inside of the backdoor. Putting together a mannequin with the same weight and volume as Teresa, Kathleen and her team once again do a number of experiments to show that no matter how her body was supposedly thrown into the back of the RAV4, the blood spatter pattern on the backdoor is not one that could have been created.
The group then engage in a hypothetical scene in which they state Teresa may have actually been killed behind her RAV4 with the door open, using a hammer and experimental blood. In their sequence, they create a very similar pattern to the one that was left behind in the original case.
This one is quite simple in talking about. Ken Kratz repeatedly claimed that Steven left “sweat DNA” on the hood of Teresa’s RAV4. What we know now however, is that it’s near-impossible to test for sweat DNA. With the volume of DNA found on the hood latch, it’s actually very likely to be Steven’s saliva. Now, unless Steven enjoys licking hood latches, Kathleen again concludes that DNA has been planted.
The RAV4’s front light being smashed
One of Kathleen’s most interesting observations is that one of the front lights of Teresa’s RAV4 was smashed when the car was found.
Teresa’s ex-boyfriend at the time, Ryan Hillegas claimed that Teresa had rang her insurance company to get the light fixed. Kathleen notes that those phone calls never took place. She then ponders why Ryan would ever have brought up the light being broken, as she concludes it must have been broken during Teresa’s murder, or in the events afterwards.
She says that if Teresa was driving around in a car with a broken light, that would have been a prominent detail in the posters searching for her when she was still missing.
The brain fingerprint testing
Perhaps the biggest piece of evidence that Kathleen has put together comes from the scientific testing of brain fingerprinting. Now, the scientific community have always said this sort of test is a controversial one, and it of course cannot be 100% accurate - nothing like this ever is.
Larry Farwell created the polygraph-like technique, which aims to reveal concealed information from a person's brain using electrodes. The test tracks responses to certain facts, words or images in order to determine whether they're stored in the brain. Steven passes the test with flying colours, with his brain not reacting to a single piece of evidence or detail that he still doesn't know about Teresa's death.
The dog tracks
Prosecutors claimed that when Teresa arrived on the Avery property, she and the RAV4 never left. Strange it is then when you see the police dog tracks that went entirely around the quarry next door to the property. We’re not sure why this wasn’t brought up by Steven’s defence team during his original trial, but it’s a huge piece of evidence that could have seen the entire narrative built by Kratz destroyed.
Dogs even determined that there was a supposed burial site away from the Avery property, but investigators concluded that it was a mistake on the canine’s part. What we do know is that animals investigate without prejudice. We’re not convinced that that many mistakes could have been made by the group of police dogs. Neither is Kathleen.
The burning of a body
Kathleen enlists the help of body-burning experts a few episodes into the new season, who state quite simply that no corpse would have been able to be burnt to the degree in which Teresa was burnt in the bonfire Steven had on the Avery property. She does discover that it would take a few hours to burn a body in a burn barrel, but this is not a part of the narrative put forward by the prosecution during Steven’s original trial.
No bone fragments in the bullet lead
Teresa was shot through the head, but the shell given as evidence to the trial doesn’t have a single trace of bone fragments. There are wood fragments within the bullet, and splashes of what looks to be red paint, and so Kathleen engages in a series of experiments, shooting the same sort of bullet through red garage walls. One of the bullets left over from the experiment looks very similar to the one presented by the prosecution. Coincidence? Probably not.
Bobby Dassey’s testimony
When Bobby Dassey - Brendan’s brother - took to the stand in Steven’s trial, he claimed that he never saw Teresa leave the Avery property. What’s strange about this, is that he has told his other brother Bryan Dassey that he did in fact see Teresa leave in the RAV4. This lines up with Steven’s claims he saw Teresa leave, but that when he came back out of his trailer following Teresa’s departure, Bobby had left the Avery property.
Cell phone tower records also prop up Kathleen’s theory that Teresa did indeed leave the Avery property after her meeting with Steven.
The Dassey family’s computer hard drive
The most shocking piece of new evidence uncovered comes in episode 8, when Kathleen reveals the Dassey family computer’s hard drive contains some damning searches. Violent and illegal porn has been searched for on the computer, with downloaded photographs of deceased young women also found on the computer. Kathleen claims that these searches and pictures were downloaded at moments when Bobby would have been the only person able to access the computer.
Ryan Hillegas having Teresa’s planner
Teresa's ex-boyfriend Ryan is brought up again in Episode 9, when Kathleen determines that he must have gotten ahold of her planner because he had access to Teresa's RAV4 either during, or following her murder. Kathleen claims that Teresa had her planner with her on October 31, backed up by calls she made and appointments she jotted down. She would never have had time to return home and pick up the planner according to the timeframe given. All signs point back to Hillegas concealing information.
Making a Murderer seasons 1-2 are available now on Netflix.
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