Archive for ‘Criminal Law’

11/26/2019

Impeachment Under Federalist 65

When Alexander Hamilton discussed impeachment in Federalist #65, he wrote regarding a trial in the Senate: “The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” He further stated: “…they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

The Constitution provides in Art II, Sec. 4: “The President…shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

While treason and bribery are relatively easy to understand, what did the Founders mean by the words: “other high crimes and misdemeanors”? What “other” “high crimes”? What “other” “misdemeanors”?

In addition to Trump’s attempted bribery of the Ukraine President, he committed “other” crimes and “misdemeanors,” such as repeated sexual assaults, prostitution, slanderous defamation, habitual lying and a loss of the public trust as to perjury, attempted malicious prosecutions of political opponents, co-conspiring with supporters to engage in battery, disorderly conduct, witness intimidation, obstruction of justice, obstruction of Congress, contempt of court, and willful violations of lawful subpoenas issued by federal and state prosecutors and the Congress.

Trump committed at least fourth degree “sexual assault” against a multitude of women. The evidence that he paid at least one high-priced call-girl over $150,000 shows a willingness to engage in “prostitution” and a lack of the sort of “virtue” the Founders thought Presidents should possess.

Trump routinely abused his position of trust by tweeting out a torrid of “defamatory statements.” He made so many false comments about people it’s impossible to recite them all in one article. Persons previously unknown to the public, like the Ambassador to the Ukraine, have been singled out and subjected to false, vile and slanderous comments.

Trump’s tendency to lie about demonstrably true facts goes well beyond normal political rhetoric. It evinces a loss of the public trust as to the crime of “perjury,” since the President clearly doesn’t understand the basic difference between what is true and what is false.

Trump abused his position of trust by using his powers to wrongfully encourage the “malicious prosecution” of his political opponents. Apparently unaware of how power is transferred in a republic, he recklessly threatened to lock-up his 2016 rival Hilary Clinton.

Trump at rallies publicly encouraged his hard-core supporters to engage in unprovoked physical acts of “battery” against media employees and those who merely disagreed with him. He then co-conspired with his thugs by telling them he would pay their legal fees.

Trump engaged in “disorderly conduct” on many occasions, as he tried to provoke public disturbances.

Trump silenced some would-be accusers and attempted to mute others, as he used his twitter account to engage in “witness intimidation,” a federal crime. While brave people appeared before the House to speak the truth as to his corrupt practices, he tried to silence them.

Trump is guilty of “obstruction of justice,” the “obstruction of Congress,” and of “contempt of court,” not only with respect to his tax returns, but also as to his unlawful orders to subordinates that they disobey subpoenas and their higher oath to the Constitution. He blatantly abused his power and violated his oath of office, which is to uphold our Constitutional form of government and the rule of law.

Hamilton believed the President would only be a man of “virtue.” When he wrote Federalist #68 he explained that the electors who would attend the Electoral College would not choose a President of “low intrigue.” He thought “…the Office of President will seldom fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” He added: “There will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters preeminent for ability and virtue.”

The probability that the Republican-controlled Senate will not convict or remove Trump from office is no excuse for not voting in favor of Articles of Impeachment in the House as to the offenses outlined above with respect to a man who has absolutely no virtue.

11/25/2019

Impeachment & Federalist Papers

When Alexander Hamilton wrote Federalist #68 in an effort to convince New Yorkers to ratify the Constitution, he explained that the electors who would attend the Electoral College would not be choosing a President of “low intrigue.” He thought “…the Office of President will seldom fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” He added: “There will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters preeminent for ability and virtue.”

The Founders believed that only a qualified man of “virtue” would be entrusted to hold the Presidency.

Hamilton discussed impeachment in Federalist #65. Regarding a trial in the Senate, he wrote: “The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” He further stated: “…they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

The Framers provided in Art II, Sec. 4 of the Constitution: “The President…shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” While treason and bribery are relatively easy to understand, what did the Founders mean by the words: “other high crimes and misdemeanors”? What “other” “high crimes”? What “other” “misdemeanors”?

In addition to Trump’s attempted bribery of the Ukraine President, is he also guilty of “other” “misdemeanors,” such as sexual assault, prostitution, slanderous defamation, habitual lying and perjury, attempted malicious prosecutions of political opponents, co-conspiring with supporters to engage in battery, disorderly conduct, obstruction of justice, and willful violations of subpoenas issued by prosecutors and the Congress?

Trump committed “sexual assault” against a multitude of women. The evidence that he paid at least one high-priced call-girl shows a willingness engage in “prostitution” and a lack of “virtue” of the sort the Founders believed a President should possess.

Trump routinely abused his position of trust by tweeting out a torrid of “defamatory statements.” He made so many false comments about people it’s difficult to list them all. Persons previously unknown to the public, like the Ambassador to the Ukraine, have been singled out by him and subjected to false, vile and slanderous comments.

Trump’s tendency to lie about demonstrably true facts goes well beyond normal political rhetoric. It evinces a mindset willing to commit “perjury,” since he appears not even to understand the basic difference between right and wrong.

Trump abused his position of trust by using his powers to wrongfully encourage the “malicious prosecution” of political opponents. Unaware of how a democracy works, he recklessly threatened to lock-up his 2016 rival Hilary Clinton.

Trump at rallies publicly encouraged his hard-core supporters to engage in unprovoked physical acts of “battery” against media members and those who merely disagree with him and he then co-conspired with his thugs to pay their legal fees.

Trump engaged in “disorderly conduct” on many occasions, as he tried to provoke public disturbances.

Trump is guilty of “obstruction of justice,” the “obstruction of Congress,” and of a “contempt of court.” As he ordered subordinates in the Executive Dept. to disobey House subpoenas, he blatantly abused his power and violated his oath of office, which is to uphold our Constitutional form of government.

The probability that the Republican Senate will not convict or remove Trump from office is no reason not to support Articles of Impeachment in the House of Representatives.

11/13/2019

Avery Probably Murdered Halbach

Like many Netflix viewers, upon watching the series: The Making of a Murderer, I was left with many lingering doubts about the guilt of Steven Avery with respect to the disappearance of Teresa Halbach. Recently, however, a friend asked me to read Indefensible, by Michael Griesbach, which advances a contrasting viewpoint, and after I read it, I’m now convinced that Avery in fact murdered Theresa Halbach.

As a retired lawyer, I treated Griesbach’s book somewhat like a trial transcript. As I read through it, I put myself in the position of a Court of Appeals judge and asked myself whether I would affirm or reverse Avery’s conviction. From the book, I logged every relevant fact, put them in chronological order, and proceeded to write my own opinion. The source of everything I have written in this article is from Griesbach’s book.

PRIOR BAD ACTS & CHARACTER

Griesbach correctly noted that juries are not allowed to hear unrelated or unproven prior “bad acts” committed by a defendant. However, since Avery had several in his background, they were mentioned in the book to give us a more complete picture. From them, I learned Avery’s character was not as pure as depicted in the Netflix documentary.

When he was 20 in 1981, Avery tortured a cat by throwing it into a fire after he had first poured gasoline all over it. While that act of cruelty doesn’t prove he committed a murder some 24 years later, such behavior does indicate a serious behavioral problem. Another prior bad act was raised by a 42-year-old woman named Harris, who said Avery fondled and forcibly had sex with her when she was 18 in 1982. Since that incident was not reduced to a conviction, it was of course not mentioned during the murder trial.

After Avery was released from prison in 2003 (for a crime he did not commit), he lived with Jodi Stachowski for roughly 18 months. She said they had sex sometimes as much as five times a day. She recalled that they experimented with bondage and said there were times she was tied down to the bed. Just a few weeks after their relationship began, Jodi was already calling the cops to report that he pushed her into a chair, strangled her until she lost consciousness, and threatened to shoot her. She said he also ripped the phone out of the wall to keep her from calling. Instead of pursuing criminal charges, Jodi asked the police to just give him a non-criminal disorderly conduct ticket. Jodi later said she was abused by Avery on three or four other occasions. After Jodi and her daughter locked themselves in a bathroom one time, the child was sent to live with her grandmother. Later, on the Nancy Grace show, Jodi called Avery a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. She said he thought all bitches owed him, because of the one who sent him to prison.

In 2003, upon Avery’s release from prison at age 42, he also found the time to rape his 17-year-old niece on her cousin’s bunk bed. The niece didn’t have her uncle prosecuted, because he threatened her. As a consequence, that “bad act” did not result in a criminal conviction. In another incident the day before Halbach disappeared in 2005, Avery asked his nephew’s teenage ex-girlfriend Melissa to come to his trailer, so they “could have a little fun” by letting “the bed hit the wall real hard.”

Ex-con Ron Rieckhoff shared what he knew about Avery’s character on March 9, 2006. He said Avery hated all women and he said that when he was released he wanted to kill the bitch that set him up on the rape charge.

PRIOR CONVICTIONS

In addition to Avery’s sexually-related “bad acts,” he had two burglary convictions on his record. He also had two felony convictions arising out of an incident with Sandra Morris, the wife of a Manitowoc County Deputy Sheriff. The felonies were “Endangering Safety by Conduct Regardless of Life” and “Possession of a Firearm by a Felon.” Morris was Avery’s second cousin, who lived up the road with her husband Bill, a deputy sheriff. Beginning in 1984, as Morris would drive by, Avery began exposing himself to her. At least once, he stood outside and masturbated. The final incident regarding Morris arose on Jan. 3, 1985, as she drove by his house. Avery rammed his Ford Ltd into Morris’ Plymouth and ran her off the road. He then used his rifle to hold her at gun point, while he ordered her to get into his vehicle. Because she had a baby with her, he finally let her go, and he was soon arrested. He confessed to endangering safety and possession of a firearm by a felon and he was sentenced to six years for each count, as a habitual offender. Since the sentences were to run concurrently, he got a six-year prison term.

Before Avery went off to prison on the Morris conviction, another crime occurred in Manitowoc County as Penny Beerntsen was sexually assault on the Lake Michigan beach on July 28, 1985. While jogging, she was grabbed, dragged into the woods, and beaten. She was left for dead after an attempted rape. Deputy Judy Dvorak, a friend of Sandra Morris, interviewed the victim at the hospital and jumped to the conclusion that it must have been Avery. Sheriff Tom Kocourek also leapt to the same conclusion. Although Penny;s description of the assailant didn’t match Avery, he was brought into custody, where the deputies had Penny ID him. At that point, there was no turning back.

Although Avery was not exactly a good guy, they had arrested the wrong man as to Penny. The real perpetrator was Gregory Allen. Allen had previously been charged with lunging at a woman along the same Lake Michigan beach in 1983. He was then prosecuted by Manitowoc County Dist. Atty. Dennis Vogel. When Penny was attacked on the same Lake Michigan beach in 1985, just two years later, many in the District Attorney’s Office correctly assumed Allen did it. Even though Vogel knew of Allen’s record, as he had placed a copy of Allen’s 1983 complaint in the 1985 file, he nonetheless followed the Sheriff’s lead and prosecuted Avery instead. Vogel would later say he thought Allen was in Door County at the time and that he would have an alibi. After Avery was convicted of the sexual assault in 1985, Judge Hazelwood sentenced him to a very long prison term. Avery would first serve the six years for the Morris conviction and then he would begin serving time for Penny’s assault.

After Avery completed his six year imprisonment for Morris in 1991, he remained in prison to commence his lengthy incarceration for Penny. About a year later, in 1992, Officer Jim Colborn began working as a corrections officer at the Manitowoc County Jail. Three years after that, in 1995, Penny’s real assailant, Greg Allen, committed another sexual assault in Green Bay and he received a 60-year sentence. Once he was behind bars, he confessed to the assault on Penny in Manitowoc back in 1985. A Green Bay detective then called Colborn at the Manitowoc Jail in 1995 and told him that Allen confessed to the crime Avery had been convicted of 10 years earlier. Colborn said he passed the information on to higher-ups, but nothing was done to free Avery. The next year Colborn took a job as a Manitowoc County Deputy Sheriff. Meanwhile, Avery continued serving that long prison term for a crime he did not commit.

AVERY’S EXONERATION & CIVIL SUIT

Asst. Dist. Atty. Griesbach received a call from Sherry Culhane of the State Crime Lab on Sep. 5, 2003, during which she informed him that DNA from the 1985 incident matched sex offender Greg Allen, and not Steve Avery. This was eight years after Manitowoc had actual knowledge of Allen’s confession. Although Avery was properly in prison for the Morris offense from 1985 through 1991, the 12 years he had served since 1991 as to Penny’s constituted a wrongful imprisonment. Upon learning of the DNA, Griesbach pulled Avery’s 1985 file and found a copy of Allen’s 1983 sexual assault complaint inside of it. DA Vogel apparently considered prosecuting Allen instead of Avery in 1985. The DNA findings prompted Avery’s release from prison on Sept. 11, 2003. Avery would sue for 12 of the 18 years he spent behind bars. His public defender however warned him to be careful in Manitowoc County, as she felt the police and prosecutors would continue keeping an eye on him. Instead of leaving town, Avery filed a 35 million dollar lawsuit against the former sheriff, former DA and the County. Avery’s civil case was still pending the day Teresa Halbach disappeared in 2005. Deputies Colborn and Lenk gave their deposition testimony in 2005, just a few days before Teresa Halbach disappeared.

AVERY’S FIRST MEETING WITH HALBACH

“Auto Trader” was a business that employed photographers to take snapshots of cars for advertisements. Avery’s Salvage Yard used the services of Auto Trader from time to time. When Allison Lang took photos at the salvage yard in Jan. 2005, Avery asked her to enter his trailer, but she decided he was too creepy and she wisely remained in her car.

Teresa Halbach took over for Lang as the photographer for Auto Trader in the spring of 2005. Before Oct, 10, 2005, Avery contacted Teresa directly to set up a photo shoot. The day before, Avery purchased leg irons, which were later found in his trailer. After Teresa took photos for Avery on the 10th, she shared with her receptionist the sexual nature of the encounter. Teresa said Avery came out of his trailer wearing only a towel. After his provocative behavior, Avery knew Halbach would not likely come back for any additional work, but Avery wanted to see her again, so he devised a diabolical plan

AVERY’S 2ND APPOINTMENT WITH HALBACH

Avery cleverly arranged a second appointment by using the name of his sister Barb Janda, who lived right next to him in the Salvage Yard. He would use her van, which wasn’t even for sale. While talking to the receptionist to schedule the appointment, Avery used a muted female voice to say he was “B Janda.” He gave Barb’s telephone number and requested “that photographer who had been out here before.” Halbach assumed she would be meeting B Janda that day. She did not know Avery would be lying in wait for her. There appears to be no doubt Avery lured Teresa to the property to at least rape her.

HALBACH’S DISAPPEARANCE

On the day she disappeared, Halbach first visited the Zipperer residence at 2:15 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2005. Shortly afterward, Avery called her cell phone using the #67 function at 2:25 p.m. and again at 2:35 p.m. Since the #67 function disguises the caller ID, Halbach didn’t take either call. But Halbach did call her receptionist at Auto Trader at 2:27 p.m.to tell them she was on her way to Avery’s Salvage. Halbach arrived at the property at 2:45 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2005. Everyone agreed she drove her RAV4 to Avery’s on Halloween.

Bobby Dassey, who was Brendan Dasseu’s older brother, told the police that he saw Halbach drive up from his window. He said he watched a girl walk towards Avery’s trailer at 2:45 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2005. This also happened to be Halloween.

Since Halbach is deceased and Avery remained silent, neither of them can be a source for what happened next. But Brendan Dassey did enter the story at that time and though his statements raise as many questions, they do fill in the picture.

BRENDEN DASSEY’S MURDER CONFESSION

Brenden Dassey was just a 16 at the time. Avery was his uncle. They lived next door to each other in the Salvage Yard. In Jan. 2006, about two months after the homicide, 14-year-old Kayla, one of Brenden’s cousins, approached her school counselor, because she was concerned about some things Brenden was saying. She said Brenden was very depressed. She noted Brenden lost 40 pounds and that he would just sit there, stare into space, and then cry. Kayla, who was afraid of her uncle Steve, relayed some of the things Brenden said about Halloween night. He told her he saw Halbach pinned down in Avery’s trailer. He said they burned some things that Halloween and that he saw body parts in the fire. The counselor went to the police with the information.

Dassey actually gave the police four statements. His first was in Nov, 2005. Two more were on Feb. 27, 2006. He then gave a 4-hour videotaped confession on March 1, 2006. He was questioned by detectives Wiegert and Fassbender. Dassey was a reluctant witness whose story changed often. The detectives asked this intellectually slow 16-year-old a number of leading questions. Legal issues arose as to whether the interview was truly “voluntary.” Judge Fox ruled the confession was in fact voluntarily given.

Dassey said that as he approached his uncle’s trailer on Oct. 31, 2005, he heard a woman screaming “help me.” As he reached Steve’s trailer, Avery opened the door, partially dressed, and invited him inside. Brenden saw Teresa tied naked to the bed in cuffs and leg irons. She started begging him to help. Avery admitted he had sex with Halbach and invited Dassey to join him. (probably as a means of insuring he would remain silent) Brenden foolishly got on top of her and also raped her. As a 16-year-old, he told the detectives he wanted to know how it felt. Avery then talked about killing Halbach. Dassey said Avery stabbed her in the stomach (this is doubtful since no blood or other evidence of such an assault was found on the mattress or in the bedroom) Avery gave Dassey the knife and told him to cut her throat (Avery would again be creating another murder defendant to keep him quiet) Brenden said he cut her throat, but she did not die (this is also unlikely since there was no blood on the mattress or in the bedroom–why didn’t she die if her throat was cut) Brenden said Avery made him cut her throat. Dassey said Avery then strangled her. (this makes no sense if her throat was already cut) Dassey said Avery punched her. (this could be true, but perhaps earlier when she was being taken into the trailer) The boy said they then removed the shackles and tied her. (why tie her after she is dead?) They then took her to the garage where Avery shot her in the head ten times with a rifle, (shooting her 10xs is overkill and it makes no sense)

(What probably happened is Avery captured Halbach usng a knife. When she struggled to get away, he cut himself and he punched her. He took her inside the trailer, stripped her naked, and shackled her to the bed. After he raped her, Brenden arrived, and he raped her too. This was before he realized his uncle would have to kill her to keep her from talking) They didn’t spill any blood in the bedroom. They tied her up alive and took her into the garage. This is probably where they first stabbed her in the stomach and tried to cut her threat, but then realized they didn’t have the nerve to murder a struggling person that way, so Avery switched to a rifle and he shot her twice in the head.)

AFTER THE MURDER

After the murder, the defendants needed to do several things: 1) destroy the body; 2) hide the car (or destroy it); 3) clean the blood from the car (if they didn’t destroy it); 4) gather the shell casings and bullet fragments; 5) clean the blood from the garage floor; 6) clean the weapon (or destroy it): 7) remove all fingerprints, hair samples and DNA from the bedroom; 8) wash their cloths and shower up; 9) create cell phone alibis; and 10) act like they never met the victim that day. Avery and Dassey would have from Oct 31 to Nov 5 to do these things, before the police would arrive with a search warrant. Allan Avery, Steve’s dad, said after the warrant, they were kicked out of their houses for eight days.

BURNING THE BODY IN THE FIRE

Dassey said they burned her body by throwing it onto a fire pit 20 yards from Avery’s bedroom. Halbach’s charred remains were found in the fire pit behind his garage. DNA showed bone fragments in fire pit belonged to Halbach. They found almost every bone below her neck there. They found a tibia, some pieces of skull, and teeth fragments. They also found metal rivets that matched the blue jeans she was wearing.

To spread the blame, Avery made sure some body parts were destroyed in burn barrel #2, 100 feet behind Dassey’s trailer. Four types of bone fragments were found in that burn barrel. A skull section found there showed she was shot twice in the head. From those remains, they were able to ID a human female, not older than 35.

In Dassey’s Feb, 27 statement, he said he saw Halbach’s body parts in the bonfire, most notably her toes. (he was apparently haunted by that image) As he gazed into the fire, he also saw hands, a belly and a forehead, all images that apparently troubled him deeply. As to all of this, his uncle told him to keep his mouth shut as Avery threatened to stab him if he said anything.

There were many witnesses to the large bonfire on Halloween. Barb Janda, Brenden’s mom, came home at around 5 p.m. and noticed a fire about three feet high. Fabian saw smoke coming from a burn barrel. Blaine Dassey saw a huge bonfire after he returned from trick or treating.

Dassey said a few days later, Avery broke up the bones and buried some of them a few feet from the fire. Some of the other remains were moved to a quarry pit on a steep hill known as Randandts. The police found a third burn site in the nearby quarry.

HIDING THE VEHICLE

Dassey said Avery drove the RAV4 to the edge of the salvage yard and hid it from view. After the plates were removed, why didn’t Avery immediately take steps between Oct 31 and Nov 5 to drain the fluids, remove the VIN number, and destroy the vehicle in his car crusher, located on the premises? Was he so stupid that he thought he could sell it?

Deputy Colborn made a controversial call on Nov. 3, when he asked dispatch to run license plate SWH582. This was two days before the vehicle was actually found. The dialog was: “Can you run Sam William Henry five eight two?” Dispatch replied: “Shows that she’s a missing person and it lists to Teresa Halbach.” The conversation makes it sound like Colborn was reading off the license plate. It did not sound like he was asking dispatch to verify a license number he already had, so he could begin searching for it.

At any rate, Pam Sturm and her daughter found the RAV4 at the edge of the junkyard near the woods on Nov. 5, 2005. If anyone but Avery or Dassey had driven it to that location, it would have been difficult to go sight unseen past all the Avery trailers.

CLEANING THE BLOOD FROM THE VEHICLE

Six spots of blood were found in the car. They were near the ignition switch, on the dash, on the CD case, and in the rear passenger area. The state argued they matched Avery’s DNA. Dassey’s comment that Avery stabbed Teresa while she was in the RAV4 doesn’t make much sense. If he stabbed her in the stomach or cut her throat inside the car, there would have more blood inside the vehicle than they could possibly have cleaned. It’s more likely the blood found on the hood and in the car came from Avery’s cut finger.

Also, why did Dassey say they placed Teresa’s body in the RAV4? That doesn’t make a any sense either. If she was murdered in the garage, and burned in the pit right behind Avery’s trailer, why would they need to put her in the car after she was bloodied?

The Netflix documentary suggested the blood in car was planted from a vial that had been filled when Avery was booked in 1985. They pointed out the Sheriff’s Dept. had access to clerk’s office, where the vial was stored. The fact that the evidence tape on the 1985 file was broken was insignificant, since the Wis. Innocence Project had done that to do some additional DNA testing. The documentary pointed out that the hole on rubber stopper at top of the vial appeared to be punctured by a syringe, but again that was not shocking since that’s how blood is put in these vials in the first place. They stick a syringe through the top to insert the blood. Also dried blood between the stopper and vial is not unusual. Not even Avery’s attorneys argued these points at trial.

Judge Willis allowed the defense to make a blood planting argument regarding the bloodvial. EDTA is like an anticoagulant added to blood vials so they don’t degrade. While blood in a vial should contain EDTA, blood found in the car, allegedly from Avery’s finger, should not. The state’s FBI expert said he did not find any EDTA on the blood samples in the car. The defense expert said the fact that EDTA was not detected doesn’t mean it wasn’t present, because when you swab the stain, you dilute it, and the detection level isn’t low enough to read it.

GATHERING SHELL CASINGS & FRAGMENTS

As to the number of times Halbach was shot, Dassey’s confession was unreliable, because at one point he said Avery fired 5 to 10 times and at another he said she was shot just twice. There is a big difference between two and ten. Dassey’s admission that she was shot “outside” or more precisely “in the garage” with a .22 caliber weapon was more credible. Avery certainly would not have wanted to leave a bloody mess on his mattress or in the bedroom. It also makes sense that no shell casings were found on the floor in the garage during the initial inspection by four officers on Nov. 6, 2005. Avery certainly would have picked up any loose visible shell casings. If Halbach was shot 10xs, there is the possibility that some didn’t exit her body. A .22 caliber bullet does not have the energy to exit a skull bone. If it passes through soft tissue, it may carry DNA.

Once Dassey confessed, four months after the killing, the police returned to the garage with specifics. This is when they found the bullet fragments. One was lodged inside a crack in the concrete and another was underneath an air compressor. They determined the air compressor bullet was fired from Avery’s gun and that it had Teresa’s DNA on it.

CLEANING THE GARAGE FLOOR

Dassey said he and Avery used Halbach’s clothing to wipe up the blood in the garage and then burned them. They used bleach to try to wipe clean any traces of blood.

On the day of the murder, Avery’s girlfriend Jodi was in jail. All calls to and from the jail are recorded. Avery telephoned Jodi at 8:57 p.m. on Oct 31, 2005. During that conversation, he said he and Dassey had done some cleaning that day. Brenden’s mother Barb gave a statement in which she said her son said he and Avery cleaned the garage.

After the police arrived on Nov. 8, 2005, they did some luminal testing in the garage, but reached no conclusions. This was before they knew the shooting occurred there. After Dassey’s March 2006 confession, in which he said she was shot in the garage, the judge issued a new warrant to search it. During that inspection, they noted a bluish white glow in some areas, which matched the body location sketched by Dassey. The luminal test done that evening showed a glow consistent with Dassey’s diagram.

CLEANING THE WEAPON

What about the murder weapon? If Avery used his rifle to kill Halbach, why didn’t he throw it into a lake or bury it? Was he that stupid? During the initial search, upon finding that Avery had a Marlin rifle in his trailer, he was arrested on Nov. 9, 2005 for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

As to the murder, Sherry Culhane of the crime lab didn’t find any of Avery’s DNA on rifle trigger. Nor did she find any blood on rifle barrel. Had Avery simply done an excellent job of cleaning?

CLEANING THE BEDROOM

Avery clearly cleaned and rearranged his bedroom. His girlfriend Jodi was shown a depiction of how the bedroom was laid out when the police searched it. She said it was not previously laid out that way. She said Avery moved the bedroom furniture around. Jodi would have put the bed in the same place Dassey had it on his sketch.

But not a single drop of Teresa’s blood, or strand of her hair, was found in the bedroom when the police conducted their searches. Again, this points to the probability that Halbach was not stabbed in the stomach there or cut along the throat in the bedroom, and that Dassey’s statement in that regard was unreliable.

KEY IN THE BEDROOM

Why would Avery hide the key to RAV4 in his bedroom? This would have been the absolute dumbest and most incriminating location of all. Was Avery that stupid? During the initial police searches of the bedroom, they found no key anywhere, and certainly not out on the floor in plain sight. How could it possibly have been missed?

The key was found there on Nov. 8, 2005 while Manitowoc County Deputies Colborn and Lenk were in the bedroom. Since Manitowoc County was being sued by Avery, and the criminal case was being handled by another County due to a conflict of interest, why were the Manitowoc officers there? It was Manitowoc County Deputy Lenk who pointed to the floor and exclaimed: “There’s a key here.”

The deputies explained that the key wasn’t seen earlier, because it apparently was tucked into the back of a bookcase. Officer Kucharski explained “We believe it either fell out of the cabinet, or from some place hidden inside the cabinet, or underneath the cabinet, or in back of the cabinet.”  How could it fall from “inside” the cabinet? How could it fall “out of” the cabinet? But the testing of the key showed bloodstains on it that matched Avery’s DNA. If the key was planted, wouldn’t the police officer’s DNA be on it?

SHOWERING UP

Earl Avery and his brother-in-law Robert Fabian arrived on Oct. 31, 2005 between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. They noticed Avery had just showered. That was an unusual time for him to have showered up. It is however consistent with cleaning up everything including his own body. Avery apparently missed a shirt during his clean-up, as the state found some hair on one shirt that was consistent with the hair of the victim.

CREATING DIVERSIONARY PHONE CALL

In an apparent attempt to create diversionary evidence, Avery called Halbach’s cell at 4:35 p.m. on Oct 31, 2005. Phone records however showed that no cell site was communicating with her phone at that time. The inference is that her phone was already destroyed in the fire and that Avery was simply making it appear that he was wondering where she was. The problem with that story is he had arranged for Halbach to meet “B Janda” and not himself. So the call to her phone at that time made no sense at all.

CONTRADICTIONS ABOUT SEEING HER

Avery told some people Halbach never showed up. Fabian overheard Avery say the photographer did not arrive. Avery told Chuck and Earl the photographer didn’t show. Avery called Auto Trader on Nov 3 and told them their photographer never made it to the scheduled appointment. However, in an interview with Deputy Colborn on Nov 3, Avery said he saw Halbach through his window taking pictures on Oct 31, but he denied talking to her that day. In an interview with Deputy Lenk on Nov 4, Avery contradicted himself again as he said he engaged in small talk with her and paid her for the job.

ALTERNATE SUSPECTS

Who else would have had a motive or an opportunity to kill Halbach? What about another member of the extended Avery family? Chuck Avery is Steve’s older brother. His former wife accused him of rape and of an attempt to strangle her. Chuck was on the premises when Halbach disappeared. Earl Avery is Steve’s younger brother. Earl was convicted of battery and sexual assault in 1992. He had also attacked his current wife. Earl was on the premises when Halbach disappeared.

What about Halbach’s boyfriend Ryan Hillegas? Could he have done all the things that were done on the Avery property? There was no evidence to support that theory.

What about other customers at the salvage yard? Sophie and Wolfgang Braun lived six miles from Avery’s Salvage. Wolfgang was a German national illegally in the United States. He had previously been in four mental health hospitals in Germany and Pittsburgh. Sophie charged her husband with domestic violence on Nov 6, 2005, just 18 hours after Halbach’s RAV4 was found six miles away. She told the authorities that the Nov 6 incident was not isolated. She said he once beat her so severely that he shattered her eardrum. She was terrified of her husband and afraid that he would kill her. Manitowoc County filed charges against Wolfgang.

Sophie also told Manitowoc that Wolfgang visited an auto salvage yard on Oct 31, 2005, the day Halbach disappeared. Wolfgang said a stupid female photographer wanted to take photos of their property. Sophie said he cut on his finger that day and she saw scratches on his back that night. She said her husband said he burned something. She found a gas can with blood on it. She also found a pair of women’s jeans, a pillowcase and a pair of women’s panties with red stains. As to the suggestion Wolfgang was involved with Halbach, Sophie was met with resistance by detectives who told her they already had their suspect and had no time for her nonsense. Nine days after Wolfgang was released from jail, he appeared at Sophie’s door in violation of his “no-contact” bail conditions. Sophie later said she no longer believed her husband was involved in the Halbach case.

JURY VERDICT

 A six-week trial began on Feb. 5, 2007. Jury selection took a full week. During the trial, the prosecution presented 50 witnesses and 500 exhibits. The jury deliberated for three days before reaching a verdict. The initial vote was 7 to 5 for an acquittal. They ultimately unanimously found him guilty of 1st degree intentional homicide and the mutilating of a corpse. After the Netflix series aired, 500,000 people signed pardon petitions, which were denied by President Obama, since he had no jurisdiction, and by then Wis. Gov. Scott Walker.

NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY

Netflix filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos made it appear like the police planted evidence. Griesbach argued viewers were shown only one side of the evidence. He referred to it as a propaganda piece disguised as a documentary.Griesbach argued the logistics of framing Avery would have been a nightmare. Not just one, but many pieces of evidence would have to have been planted, including body fragments, the RAV4,  the license plates, blood and DNA in the car, the ignition key in the bedroom, the bullet fragments in the garage, as well as Halbach’s phone and camera found in the burn barrel.