Attorney Kathleen Zellner has broken her silence about results of forensic testing in the case of Making a Murderer’s Steven Avery with a series of tweets on Saturday.
Zellner sent more than a dozen messages about information in the 1,200-page petition she filed last Wednesday requesting Avery be released or granted a new trial.
“Stuart James affidavit: Steven’s blood planted in Rav-4,” one Twitter post read.
James, a blood spatter expert with 40 years of experience, tested Steven Avery’s blood found in Teresa Halbach’s car. The prosecution contended at his trial that the blood came from a cut on his finger. Avery contends that while he had suffered a gash, the state is wrong because he wasn’t in Halbach’s car and that he didn’t kill her.
Zellner, based on James findings, tells a story with a strange twist about how her client’s blood ended up in the Toyota RAV4.
According to Zellner, Teresa’s ex-boyfriend, Ryan Hillegas, killed her and was hanging around the Avery property waiting for a chance to ditch the car. But, planting the SUV wasn’t enough, she said.
Armed with knowledge that Halbach had visited Avery on Oct. 31, 2005, and his training as a nurse, Hillegas waited for Avery to leave and entered his trailer through an unlocked door to find something to place him in the vehicle.
— Making A Murderer (@MakingAMurderer) August 24, 2016
“The killer noticed fresh blood in the bathroom sink,” Zellner claims. “The killer recognized from his scientific background that if this blood was in Ms. Halbach’s RAV-4, Mr. Avery would immediately become the only suspect.”
Zellner says Hillegas, realizing he had between 15 and 28 minutes before the blood coagulated, scooped it from the sink returned to the SUV.
Police later discovered the blood-stained sink. Avery had an explanation though. He said he had been bleeding from a three-quarter-inch cut he received from a sharp piece of roofing material. The cut was shown in interviews that Avery did with local media.
During trial, defense lawyers Dean Strang and Jerome Buting tried to convince the jury that Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Lt. James Lenk and Sgt. Andrew Colborn could have taken Avery’s blood from a vial drawn in 1996 and dripped it into the RAV4 in order to frame him.
The theory made for a dramatic climax in Making a Murderer, especially because the seal on the vial’s box had been broken, suggesting it had been tampered with. The defense tested the blood from the vehicle for the anti-coagulant EDTA, which was added to the 1996 vial. The attorneys hoped the result would be their moment of truth.
Instead, the test came back negative. No EDTA.
The EDTA test was part of what Zellner called a failure on the part of trial counsel. She says had they done their jobs, Buting and Strang would have discovered the container was opened in 2002 by the Wisconsin Innocence Project, the team responsible for exonerating Avery for a 1985 rape.
Zellner said there is no evidence to suggest Lenk and Colborn planted the blood. There is also no proof either officer had knowledge of the 1996 vial when they were investigating the Halbach homicide.
But, that doesn’t clear the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department, according to Zellner. She said Colborn had plenty to do with violating Steven Avery’s rights under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The officer was duped by Ryan Hillegas into believing he was closing in on the killer, and used confirmation bias to make sure Avery was the only suspect.
Since Making a Murderer took Netflix by storm, a dark cloud has remained over the discovery of Halbach’s vehicle. When was it found? By whom was it found? Zellner says she has confirmed at least one theory.
She said Colborn was led to Halbach’s car by the killer on November 3, or November 4, 2005. That is when the officer called the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department dispatcher from his cellphone to confirm the RAV4’s license plate number.
The call created a hailstorm of questions, namely why Colborn used his personal phone and not his police radio. Manitowoc spokesmen said it was because Avery owned a police scanner. Colborn didn’t have a concrete answer, other than he was confirming plate numbers of an SUV belonging to a missing girl.
Regardless, there are peculiar things about that recorded call, Zellner says. He didn’t use his car radio because he likely made the call from his personal vehicle on November 4, his day off.
Teresa Halbach's RAV4 was found after 20 minutes of searching through 4,000 cars on the Avery Auto Salvage yard. pic.twitter.com/UCopDjWfXj
— Making A Murderer (@MakingAMurderer) August 3, 2016
Then there’s the recording itself, the second red flag for Zellner. As Colborn is speaking to the dispatcher, someone in the background can be beard making an odd statement.
“When the killer looked into Ms. Halbach’s vehicle, he called out, ‘it’s hers,’ because he recognized her personal items inside the vehicle in addition to the vehicle itself,” Zellner alleges.
That leads the attorney to a third quandary. On November 3 and 4, Colborn did not have probable cause to be on the Avery property. Ryan Hillegas, with the officer’s help, took care of that, too.
On Saturday, November 5, Hillegas organized a search party and sent volunteers to various locations to search for his missing ex-lover. However, Zellner said he gave special attention to a woman named Pam Sturm, who had permission from Steven’s brother to search the Avery’s Auto Salvage lot.
Hillegas, as seen in Making a Murderer, provided Sturm with the search party’s only camera and Calumet County Sheriff Jerry Pagel’s direct line “in case they find anything.”
And find something Sturm and her daughter did. After only 30 minutes, they located Teresa Halbach’s Toyota RAV4 among 4,000 other scrapped cars on the 40-acre property.
“It is clear that Pam was provided information pertaining to the location of Ms. Halbach’s vehicle by Mr. Hillegas,” Zellner claims.
Ken Kratz “Destroyed”
Zellner also tweeted Saturday that one of her expert witnesses, Bennett Gershman, provided an affidavit that “destroys” former Calumet County prosecutor Ken Kratz’s cases that sent Avery and Brendan Dassey to prison for life.
A professor at Pace Law School in White Plains, New York, Gershman opines that Kratz committed misconduct. Gershman said Kratz disparaged Avery’s character by explaining in graphic detail during a press conference how the state believed he and Dassey raped, tortured, killed and mutilated Teresa Halbach.
Kratz said he regrets the presser, but that Avery and Dassey are behind bars where they belong.
Kratz was a featured speaker at CrimeCon this weekend, where he accused Making a Murderer of distorting facts, and called Zellner’s latest petition “deplorable.”
Bludgeoned To Death
Despite Kratz’s theory that Teresa Halbach died from at least two gunshot wounds to the head, Zellner said the 25-year-old photographer met a different fate; she knows where Halbach was killed, and it was nowhere near Avery Auto Salvage.
“…Ms. Halbach departed the Avery property, departed the Zipperer property, and was killed after she arrived home at 3:40-3:50 p.m.,” Zellner claims.
She said new scientific testing has shown Halbach was standing behind her RAV4 with the cargo door open when she was struck with a blunt object. She said new blood spatter evidence shows the killer was also behind the car when he delivered the the first blow.
“The experiments overseen by Mr. James demonstrate that Ms. Halbach was struck on the head after she opened the rear cargo door,” Zellner continues. “She fell to the ground next to the rear bumper on the driver’s side, where she was struck repeatedly by an object similar to a mallet or hammer.”
Zellner said Halbach’s body was likely buried before being dug up and burned in an “open field” cremation. Hillegas, Zellner alleges, had an accomplice to plant some of the evidence on the Avery property.
[Featured Image by Morry Gash/AP Images]