What's The Evidence Against Steven Avery? The 'Making A Murderer' Story Isn't So Cut And Dry
It's hard to believe that it's only been a month or two since the Netflix docuseries Making a Murderer began streaming, just because there have already been so many twists and developments in the Steven Avery case. After the series debuted, public sympathy seemed to be firmly on his side for the first time since his legal troubles began in 1985. Petitions calling for a presidential pardon and a reexamination of Avery's case popped up all over the Internet. Since then, the plot has thickened — the filmmakers have been accused of presenting a biased narrative and Avery's former fiancé Jodi Stachowski has spoken out about his history of domestic violence towards her. Although potentially biased filmmaking and prior violence don't change the facts of the Halbach case, it's worth revisiting those facts and looking at the evidence against Steven Avery.
When responding to the allegations of bias, filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi defended themselves by saying that, "our opinion is that we included the state's most compelling evidence." This, of course, would be the controversial blood evidence and the presence of Halbach's key in Avery's trailer that we saw discussed at length in the series. If it wasn't tampered with (the Manitowoc police department has not been accused of any wrongdoing and are not under investigation), this evidence is certainly damning, because there's likely no innocent explanation for why Avery's blood would be in Halbach's vehicle.
However, since the defense's argument hinged on the claim that the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Department planted the blood and the key, which they vehemently deny, Avery's supporters maintain that this evidence doesn't point to his guilt. That's for viewers to debate, but let's take a look at all the evidence against Avery.
Halbach Was Wary Of Avery
Making a Murderer didn't indicate that Avery and Halbach had, in fact, met one another prior to her murder. In reality, she had been to his property before and had told her co-worker that he made her uncomfortable because Avery answered the door in nothing but a towel on one occasion, according to The Chippewa Herald. This information wasn't admissible at trial because the co-worker didn't know the exact date or any further details pertaining to the incident. As reported by PEOPLE, Halbach had expressed similar sentiments about Avery to a friend:
"She had a bad feeling about him," says Halbach's longtime friend, Gina Haring. "She said, 'He looks at me weird. He creeps me out.'"
Avery Requested Halbach Specifically
As reported by People, on the morning of Oct. 31, 2005, Avery called AutoTrader and requested they send "that same girl who was here last time." He used his sister's name and phone number rather than and his own, and the prosecution claims this was because he knew Halbach would be hesitant to come to the property if Avery was there.
Furthermore, he called Halbach twice that afternoon using the *67 feature. Two hours later, he called her again without hiding his number. Prosecutor Ken Kratz told PEOPLE Avery made this final call in an effort to form an alibi of sorts:
Avery first believes he can simply say she never showed up…so tries to establish the alibi call after she's already been there, hence the 4:35 call. She will never answer of course, so he doesn't need the *67 feature for that last call.
This evidence is purely circumstantial, but it does indicate that Avery had an interest in Halbach — and it was left out of the docuseries.
There Was Additional DNA Evidence In Halbach's Car
As reported by The New York Times, the jury heard evidence that DNA other than blood was found in Halbach's car. According to Kratz, Avery's sweat was found under the hood of the car — and, unlike the blood evidence, it would have been impossible to plant. Although Dean Strang acknowledged that DNA was found under the hood, he says there's no way to determine it was specifically from sweat. He also said it didn't necessarily mean that Avery touched the car, but he didn't elaborate as to how this DNA evidence could have been in Halbach's car without his client touching it.
The Bullet Came From Avery's Gun
In March 2006, investigators discovered a flattened bullet with Halbach's DNA on it in Avery's garage. The bullet came from Avery's gun, which police confiscated in November 2005, reported Mic. Although the defense claims it could have been planted, Kratz described to PEOPLE why this is far-fetched:
Ballistics said the bullet found in the garage was fired by Avery's rifle, which was in a police evidence locker since Nov. 6, 2005... If the cops planted the bullet, how did they get one fired from [Avery's] gun? This rifle, hanging over Avery's bed, is the source of the bullet found in the garage, with Teresa's DNA on it. The bullet had to be fired before Nov. 5.
The Location Of Halbach's Belongings
Halbach's cellphone and camera were discovered 20 feet from Avery's front door, as reported by Mic. This is also where some of her remains were found. Police had access to vials of Avery's blood, but the defense hasn't responded to how or why Halbach's personal belongings ended up in such close proximity to their client's home.
Avery's History Of Violence
Avery's prior crimes wouldn't have been admissible in court because they didn't directly relate to the Halbach murder. But, since we're not jurors and this case is being discussed from every angle, I'll mention them briefly. Aside from burning his pet cat alive, Avery had a history of violence towards women that was glossed over in the series. Plenty of people are skeptical of Jodi Stachowski's recent statements that Avery abused her, because she expressed nothing but support for him in the documentary. The Huffington Post obtained records from the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Department that confirm "police responded to domestic incidents involving Avery and Stachowski, as well as his former wife, Lori."
Images: Netflix (4)