The Horror Honeys: Honey Switch Month: Getting Away With MAKING A MURDERER

Honey Switch Month: Getting Away With MAKING A MURDERER

A Honey Switch Month Horror TV Honey Recap by Jennica

Making a Murderer: Season 1

Here at The Horror Honeys, most of our reporting is centered around fictional tales of terror, the things that only exist in our wildest nightmares. Sure, many of the films and television shows released into the horror community are "based on true events" but they still stray far enough away from being actual play-by-play accounts that we are able to achieve the escapism often sought after when watching mindless entertainment. But this week, like many avid Netflix users, I set aside the vampires, zombies, and Lady Gaga for ten hours of frustration, heartache, and corruption; the real life horror show that is our law enforcement and court system.


New to Netflix, the documentary series Making a Murderer tells the true story of Manitowoc County resident Steven Avery, owner of Avery's Auto Salvage as well as a loving husband and father of four. Coming from an unpopular family, being poorly educated, and spending his spare time in and out of handcuffs for burglary and once for mistreatment of an animal made Steven a prime target-- I mean suspect-- for the sexual assault of Penny Beerntsen in 1985, a crime for which he served eighteen years of his life. While Steven's family and the Wisconsin Innocence Project stood by him, his wife ddid not and she took their children witth her. But when itt was discovered that a couple files were conveniently misplaced and a new DNA test excluded him, Steven was finally a free man in 2003... or so he thought.


Steven Avery - incarcerated 1985 - 2003

On November 3, 2005-- just days after the Avery Bill passed legislation and Steven received a $400,000 payout in a lawsuit for wrongful imprisonment-- twenty-five year-old Teresa Halbach is reported missing. Halbach, who photographs cars for Steven, was last seen on his property, once again making him a prime suspect for a serious crime. And now that Steven has already made an example of the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Department, the men in uniform are determined to avenge their reputations. As Steven's defense attorney explains later, law enforcement officers are often trained to illicit confessions rather than seek the truth.

This time around, evidence such as human remains are discovered-- or planted-- and statements are made-- or forcefully concocted-- that not only land Steven Avery in the behind bars but also his teenage nephew Brendan Dassey. There is a solid line between being convicted of a crime and actually being guilty. Do Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey have blood on their hands or are they both victims of a corrupt system? Let's take a look at the facts...

Brendan Dassey and Steven Avery on trial (2007).

Facts Against Steven Avery

  • Teresa Halbach's Toyota RAV4 SUV is found on Steven Avery's property near his trailer by two members of the search party during the initial investigation.
  • Tooth and bone fragments are found on the property that appear to be burned.
  • The key to the Toyota RAV4 is discovered on the floor of Steven Avery's bedroom inside his trailer.
  • Bullet fragments are found in the garage of Steven Avery's property.
  • Steven Avery's sixteen year-old nephew Brendan Dassey is questioned by investigators Mark Wiegert and Tom Fassbender on video and he confesses to participating in the sexual assault and murder of Teresa Halbach alongside his uncle.
  • Brendan tells the investigators that he heard screams as he entered his uncle's trailer, finding Teresa bound to the bed. Next, Brendan tells the investigators that Steven handed him a knife and he slit her throat before Steven shot her in the head.
  • Traces of Steven Avery's blood are found inside the Toyota RAV4 and on the key found in the bedroom.

In a lot this size, investigators knew exactly where to look.

Discrepancies


  • There were rumors that the Toyota RAV4 might have been placed on Steven Avery's property by a police officer. If Steven murdered Teresa Halbach, why would he leave her vehicle parked near his trailer?
  • The bullet fragments were not discovered until about five months into the investigation. Why were the bullets not found during the initial investigation?
  • Forensic anthropologist Dr. Scott Fairgrieve advised that it is likely that the body was burned at a different location from where the remains were found, suggesting that the remains might have been burned away from the Avery property.
  • The District Attorney requested that police officers not be alone on any property during the investigation. However, officers James Lenk and Andrew Colborn-- who were both deposed during Steven Avery's lawsuit-- volunteered to conduct the search of the Avery property and were left unattended when Lenk found the car key with traces of Steven Avery's blood.
  • From the video footage of Brendan Dassey's interview, it appears that his statement incriminating he and his uncle is coerced.
  • Investigators tell Brendan that they have received consent from his mother to go forward with his interview without her presence. Brendan's mother claims that police would not allow her to accompany her son.
  • Investigators hint to Brendan at the specific details of Teresa's murder (i.e. "What else happened to her head? Who shot her in the head?")
  • Brendan later tells his mother that "They [the police officers] got to my head."
  • If Brendan and Steven did murder Teresa Halbach in Steven's bedroom the way that Brendan said they did, the room would have been covered in blood. However, the there were no traces of Teresa's blood or any of her DNA in the bedroom. 
  • The only DNA found on the key is Steven's, not Brendan's or Teresa's. Thus, it could have been cleaned and then Steven's DNA planted on it.
  • The seal on an evidence box containing Steven's blood from his previous case was broken and a tiny hole was found in the vial of blood, suggesting that someone had tampered with evidence.
  • A chemical called ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is added to blood in crime labs to ensure preservation. When the FBI tested the blood in the vial against samples of the blood from Avery's property, the blood samples did not show traces of EDTA. However, only three samples were tested and just because the test did not detect EDTA does not mean EDTA was not present.

Testing usually means re-testing. Y'know... for science.

Facts Against Brendan Dassey

  • Brendan's aforementioned statement given to investigators Wiegert and Fassbender.
  • Brendan later provides a written statement along with illustrations of the sexual assault and homicide that are presented in court during his trial.
  • Kayla Avery, Brendan's cousin, gives a statement to police officers that Brendan told her that he saw Teresa inside Steven's trailer and that he later saw remains on the property.


Discrepancies

  • When he tried to withdraw his original statement about what happened to Teresa Halbach, Brendan was told by investigators that he needed to include Teresa's murder in his written statement or he could not be helped.
  • Kayla Avery confessed on the stand at Brendan's trial that she lied to officers about Brendan telling her that he saw Teresa and that he saw the remains when police asked her specifically about the remains during her interview.

When all else fails, scare the kids. 

Once all is said and done and verdicts have been reached, the futures of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey become grim. Steven Avery is found guilty on two counts: first degree intentional homicide and felon possession of a firearm. The first count alone is enough for Steven to earn a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of early release. Brendan Dassey is found guilty on three counts: first degree intentional homicide as party to a crime, mutilating a corpse as party to a crime, and second degree sexual assault as party to a crime. Similar to his uncle, Brendan Dassey is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of early release until 2048.

Steven Avery has now spent twenty-eight of his fifty-three years incarcerated. Between the two imprisonments, Steven has lost his wife, a girlfriend, and the chance to be a father to his four children who are now grown. After two appeals, he has lost the option of a new trial without the introduction of new evidence and he has lost access to a court appointed lawyer, leaving him to defend himself should he ever return to the courtroom. Despite moments of depression and feelings of hopelessness, Steven continues to study in the Boscobel Correctional Institute's library in hopes of one day clearing his name.

Brendan, now twenty-six years old, has since written a letter in prison expressing his pain of never having a chance at finding love, getting married, starting a family. After ten years of his sentence so far, he continues to insist that he is innocent.

Post-trial, the prosecutor on Steven Avery's case Ken Kratz states to the press, "We are obviously happy with the results." But "happy" seems to be a word used in poor taste, as he smiles at the sea of cameras outside the courtroom. Whether or not Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are in fact guilty, a human being was murdered. It seems that in the end, three lives were lost.

Was justice really served?

Do you believe Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are guilty? Were they given a fair trial?