New testing is set to go ahead on evidence used to convict Steven Avery in the murder case made famous by Making a Murderer, the Netflix documentary series that turned every man and their dog into detectives
Steven Avery spent 18 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of rape by the same police department, before new evidence deemed him innocent, resulting in his 2003 release. Avery filed a $36 million lawsuit against Manitowoc County a year later. He is currently serving a life sentence for the 2005 murder of Halbach. Avery’s DNA— blood and sweat— were found in the victim’s car, which was recovered on Avery’s property.
Accusations Of Tampering
Making a Murderer has gained equal amounts of hype and controversy after suggesting that the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department framed Steven Avery by planting evidence. The most iconic scene from the series shows an evidence box from from Avery’s first trial that appeared to have been tampered with. The date-stamped tape sealing the box had been cut, and the vial of blood within showed an unusual puncture hole, suggesting that blood had been recently removed from the vial. Avery’s lawyers alleged that police had planted his blood in Halbach’s car in order to implicate him in the murder.
Testing The Blood
During the trial, the FBI tested the blood found in the car to see if it contained EDTA, a preservative used to store blood samples. They used a new method of testing, and ruled that there was no EDTA present in the blood stains. They were criticised for using a new and potentially unreliable testing method of their own invention, and also only tested half the bloodstains.
New Testing Method
While the series premiered on Netflix last year, the trial itself concluded almost 10 years ago. Methods of testing DNA have since evolved significantly since Avery was convicted. Swedish scientist Kirsty Spalding contacted Kathleen Zellner, Avery’s lawyer, with a new and more effective carbon dating method. Rather than just detecting the presence of EDTA, it can accurately date the blood. This new test will verify if the blood stains in Theresa Halbach’s car came from Avery ten years ago, or if it was placed there from a vial of Avery’s blood from 1985.
Nothing happens quickly in the legal world, and Zellner has been waiting since August to have the motion approved. The results of the test itself will be ready in around three months— that means that we may find out in February if Avery’s DNA was planted at the scene of the crime or not.
Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey will be released from prison now that his conviction has been overturned. Zellner has been Tweeting Avery’s case for months, and is confident that the test will give the results they’re looking for to help exonerate Avery as well:
Everyone’s A Detective
This show has more theories than #Westworld, and those on both sides of the fence are still posting their own speculations online. One supporter of Avery’s innocence experimented with a little DIY detective work to demonstrate the likeliness of the blood being planted:
While the puncture hole in the top of the vial was a key piece of evidence for Avery’s lawyers, it has been noted that this is not necessarily out of the ordinary, as this method is often used to both place and withdraw blood. Avery’s lawyers argued that this was not the standard procedure in the laboratory where Avery’s blood was examined.
Zellner has just stated that the testing order has been “slowed down” due to Dassey’s pending release, but that’s just fine with her. She also hinted at potential new witnesses to come forward in the event of a new trial: