Forensic experts think that key evidence was compromised
Just a day after the LawNewz report dropped, four forensic experts condemned the scientific methods used in the Avery case in an article for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. They believed the prosecution unfairly influenced DNA analyst Sherry Culhane and FBI chemist Marc LeBeau to deliver results supporting a guilty verdict, thereby compromising their analysis. They also took issue with LeBeau's wording in his testimony.
As you may recall, LeBeau was brought in to settle one of the more contentious aspects of the case: whether Avery's blood recovered from the crime scene was fresh or planted from a vial. If it came from the vial police collected during Avery's trial for rape in 1985, it would contain traces of EDTA, a chemical preservative. LeBeau could not detect EDTA in three of the six samples and thus concluded "within a reasonable degree of scientific certainty" that it was entirely absent… even though he never tested the remaining three blood stains.
"There is a saying among scientists that absence of evidence isn't necessarily evidence of absence, and that appears to be the case here," the scientists wrote. "It was problematic for Mr. LeBeau to draw conclusions with any scientific certainty about all six of the stains after testing only three of them."
Avery's new lawyer found a better suspect
Newsweek published a lengthy profile of Zellner on March 29th, which shared some of the attorney's progress on the case. Zellner once again promised state-of-the-art testing, along with cell phone records that prove Halbach left the Avery property alive. "It's absolutely shocking to see cellphone records that were part of the discovery that were turned over to the defense… document her route leaving the property," she told Newsweek. "[Halbach] goes back the same way she came, she's 12 miles from the property on the last ping."
But the biggest news from the article was that Zellner had accomplished something Manitowoc investigators could not: identifying a new prime suspect. Zellner said she and her team had uncovered a number of leads, all of them men who knew Halbach. Apparently one looks guiltier than the rest: "We have a couple. I'd say there's one, leading the pack by a lot. But I don't want to scare him off, I don't want him to run." Although she wouldn't elaborate, she did refer elsewhere in the story to a man arrested on sex abuse charges who made two phone calls to Halbach. Zellner plans to file the appeal on August 29.
A neighbor gave a shady eyewitness account of Halbach's car
Freelance photojournalist Jeff Klassen scored a major scoop when he tracked down Avery's neighbor Wilmer Siebert. In an article posted to his blog, Klassen shared Siebert's doubts about the police investigation into Halbach's death. Siebert claims he saw a car that may have been Halbach's Toyota RAV4 just "days" before the search party found it on the Avery Auto Salvage yard. By his account, it was driving down a back road that leads to the quarry behind the salvage yard. A white Jeep trailed it. About a half hour later, only the Jeep returned. Siebert said he thought it was unusual because both cars were speeding, and he rarely saw RAV4s around the area.
Siebert was also suspicious of how quickly Halbach's car was discovered in the salvage yard. "I don't know how [the search party] could find that car that quick because I needed a gas tank for a truck [once] and they gave me the row [that it was in] and what kind of truck it was and I didn't find that truck in that short of a time," he told Klassen. Siebert, who is friends with the Averys, said he was never questioned during the investigation and didn't think to speak out until he saw Making a Murderer.
Avery's prison warden resents his Making a Murderer fame
USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin got its hands on nearly 2,000 emails from prison officials at Avery's facility in late June and published the best findings. Among them? The officials wanted to transfer Avery to an out-of-state facility after Making a Murderer got mega-popular, but Avery declined the offer. The warden hated the show, and pretty much everyone worked together to deny any media requests to interview Avery. The emails also revealed that Avery and Dassey received many wire transfers from new supporters, who offer encouraging cards along with their $10-$50 donations.
Avery slammed his old lawyers
Tumblr may love Strang and Buting, but their former client sure doesn't. In a scathing letter released exclusively to InTouch in July, Avery blamed his guilty verdict on the defense team. "Dean and Jerry didn't do no investigation on this case, if I did they would not be in prison," he wrote. "They would have the Suspect if they did there [sic] job!" Avery also called them "Bad Attorneys" and suggested they should lose their licenses for ethical violations.
That's a pretty harsh review, but Buting didn't fault Avery for the outburst: