FIGHTING FOR THEIR LIVES
I had honestly believed that by Episode 10, I would be fighting off a strong belief in either Steven Avery's guilt or innocence, forcing myself to wait until I saw evidence that confirmed or contradicted my conclusions. This turns out not to be the case. Frankly, I have no better idea at this point whether Steven Avery is guilty of the murder of Teresa Halbach than I did after Episode 1.
Yes, the filmmakers presented substantial evidence which went to both Avery’s innocence as well as his guilt. However, like an unfinished musical composition, the chord they struck was never resolved. Much circumstantial evidence was presented early on that Steven Avery was culpable in the murderer of Teresa Halbach. As the documentary progressed, I expected the episodes to incrementally and convincingly make a case for Avery’s innocence. If they tried, they failed—at least as far as I am concerned. I am not saying that I believe Steven Avery is guilty (or innocent). The point I am making is that I found insufficient evidence in and of itself to make a determination either way.
Many concerning issues and actions were brought up, but not resolved. One prominent example is the curious call for registration information on Teresa Halbach’s vehicle by Sgt. Colburn—days before the RAV4 was found. I fully expected this enigma to be addressed further in the documentary. It was not. I have no idea whether this will ultimately be pertinent, but it is frustrating to be left hanging.
Another astounding broken thread is the reference to an obsessive caller (and potential stalker) of Teresa Halbach. How can you leave that hanging?
Maybe it is my ingrained desire for substantial, unassailable evidence that caused me to become so frustrated with the long, panoramic, artsy, views of the junkyard over the (non-evidentiary) monologue of one or more of the Avery clan lamenting an injustice. I do not intend to minimize their frustration or their grief. However, I believe that they might have been better served if the filmmakers had actually used some of that time to present concrete evidence. As a result, at the end of the day, too many questions in the Steven Avery case are left unanswered.
In the filmmakers’ defense, maybe that was their plan all along; to pose questions and let others answer them. If that was their goal, then the very fact that I wrote this article and you are reading it is proof that they succeeded.
To be clear, I am certain about some things, because they are self-evident and do not require scientific confirmation. I believe that the evidence provided in the documentary is conclusive proof (at least in my professional opinion) that the prosecution of Steven Avery was conducted by an unscrupulous prosecutor more concerned about a conviction than he was the truth.
The episodes also provided sufficient evidence to prove to me, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Brendan Dassey’s ‘confession’ was absolute, police-fed, fantasy. My strong belief is that Brendan Dassey had nothing to do with the disappearance or murder of Teresa Halbach in any way, though I still want to confirm that with the evidence I have not yet seen.
I believe that from a professional and moral standpoint, Len Kachinsky stabbed Brendan Dassey in the back, and with the help of Michael O’Kelly, bears significant responsibility for the loss of a decade (and counting) of the life of Brendan Dassey.
I believe that the investigation conducted by Manitowoc and Calumet County Sheriff’s investigators, as well as Special Agent Fassbender from the Wisconsin Department of Justice was pathetic. It was the result of either gross incompetence or intentional (criminal) evidence planting—or both. I am not yet ready to say where I come down on that aspect.
The rulings and courtroom conduct of Judges Patrick Willis and Jerome Fox were appalling. I personally believe that both judges were strongly biased in favor of the prosecution. How could Judge Fox remove a defense attorney for allowing an unrepresented interrogation of a client, then allow the results of that interrogation to be admitted as evidence?
The following are just some of the items about which I have a very preliminary opinion, which I believe might well be influenced by more substantial evidence.
- I have serious questions as to the behavior of certain officers during this investigation, among them Lt. Lenk and Sgt. Colburn.
- The fact that people who reasonable investigators around the country would consider prime suspects (ex-boyfriend, male roommate, obsessive caller), were apparently ignored during the investigation is stupefying.
At this juncture I must point out, as I suspected might happen, that I found that I have a tangential involvement with somebody involved in one of these cases. I am the chief investigative officer of an organization known as Judges for Justice, a group of former law enforcement, attorneys and judges as well as former elected officials, who are looking into several cases of alleged wrongful convictions. One of the cases in which I have been significantly involved is the pro bono defense of Christopher Tapp of Idaho Falls, Idaho. Christopher Tapp was convicted of murder approximately 18 years ago in a case strikingly similar to that of Brendan Dassey. In both situations, a person of, at best, low-average intelligence was fed information the police wished to use as testimony against a different suspect. In both cases, that information was used to convict a person who believed their only hope was to cooperate with the police.
Another person involved in the Tapp case is Steve Drizin. Drizin, of course, turns out to be Brendan Dassey’s post-conviction attorney; a fact of which I was not aware. I have never personally met Steve Drizin, and my efforts on the Tapp case were independent of his. We have been on the same E-mail string several times, but I have no recollection of ever even E-mailing him personally. That said, I believe that his conclusions in the Tapp case are spot-on. Mr. Drizin might recognize my name, but that would be the extent of our association.
- Michael O’Kelly and Len Kachinsky were wildly biased against Brendan Dassey before they saw the first piece of evidence.
- O’Kelly should never be allowed to testify in a courtroom again.
- Len Kachinsky is an embarrassment to the legal profession.
- Wiegert may not even have the ‘horsepower’ it would take to successfully plant evidence.
- I thought Kratz was enjoying the descriptions of an alleged sexual crime a little too much.
- If you think about it, there’s now more demonstrative, proven evidence of sexual deviance by Ken Kratz than there is of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey – combined. (A date to an autopsy? No wonder he looked a little sweaty describing the fictitious version of the murder of Halbach.)
- If Kratz’ ability to keep his disgusting behavior (sexting the victim of domestic abuse???) a secret for a year with the help of the Wisconsin DOJ isn’t proof of a corrupt system, what is?
- Why didn’t Governor Foley prosecute Kratz?
- Kratz complains that his reputation would take a hit just because of an accusation? Really? Sucks, huh?
- Kratz laments that he’s forgotten. As long as I’m alive, he won’t be.
In the Christopher Tapp case in which I’m involved, most, including myself have long given up on the State of Idaho providing justice. It’s simply a matter of biding time until the last state appeal is (inevitably) denied. Once that happens, the case can be removed to the federal appeals system, which seems to have less trouble recognizing injustice.
In the Avery and Dassey cases, the same dynamic holds true. Once the cases are clear of Wisconsin, real chances for justice come into play.
Ultimately, I am left with a couple of thoughts;
First; the best (but hopefully not the only) way to conclusively prove the innocence of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, is to conclusively prove the guilt of the actual killer.
Second; if it turns out that Steven Avery was not the killer of Teresa Halbach, and the actual killer murders again, then Ken Kratz, Len Kachinsky, Michael O'Kelly and a number of law enforcement investigators will have blood on their hands.
Please accept my sincere thanks for reading these articles and bearing with my schedule issues during the latter episodes.
At this time, I'm ready to receive input at this site which you might believe to be pertinent. I do want to point out that given the volume of material in the case file, (see photo), I will not likely be reading every word on every single page. Please remain patient as I am coming down to deadline on a book project as well as writing now for CNN.com. (See below)