As we know, there were several red herrings dragged into the JonBenet Ramsey case to draw attention away from the many signs of Ramsey involvement. In the Steven Avery case, as publicized in the so-called documentary, "Making A Murderer," several red herrings are tossed out to support the claim that investigators were "out to get" Avery and planted evidence. Here are some examples, from the film and elsewhere, with my comments:
1. No sign of the victim's blood or DNA in Avery's bedroom, where the assault allegedly took place.
Assuming investigators were intent on framing Avery, then why wouldn't they have planted Teresa Halbach's DNA on the bed and elsewhere in the room? They were in possession of her remains, so plenty of DNA would have been available.
Absence of such evidence is understandable once we realize that Avery would most likely have planned the assault in advance. He could have spread several sheets on the bed, to absorb blood and DNA or even spread a tarp on the floor under the bed. According to Brendan Dassey, the victim was shot and stabbed in the stomach after being carried outside the bedroom to the garage and then to her own vehicle. While Dassey supposedly "slit her throat" while she was lying on the bed, that would not necessarily have produced a lot of blood. If an artery had been severed, she would have bled out and died in a very short time, but according to Dassey she was still alive when carried out of the bedroom, suggesting the throat slitting was superficial. Nowhere does Dassey refer to large amounts of blood anywhere in the bedroom or on his or Steven's clothing. Whatever blood was spilled there was most likely absorbed by the sheets, which were subsequently burned.2. The victim's car key with Avery's DNA was found only after seven or so days. Why wasn't it found during the initial search? Why wasn't Teresa's DNA on it as well?
Once again: if the intention was to plant this evidence, why wait seven days to plant it, why not plant it as soon as possible? According to the report I read, it was found only after a bookcase had been moved, suggesting that it could have been hidden there all along. From what I've been reading, it's only possible to retrieve touch DNA from the last person to touch an object. The fresh layer of DNA destroys whatever DNA might have been underneath. It's also possible that the DNA on the key could have gotten there via inadvertent transfer from a glove that had previously touched some of Avery's clothing. Transfer of this sort is very common and more likely than the deliberate planting of evidence.3. The 22 caliber slug with Teresa's blood on it was found 10 days after the initial search, suggesting it was planted.
Once again: why wait ten days to plant evidence? Why not plant it as soon as possible? More important, where would that planted blood have come from? The remains had been thoroughly burned, almost to ashes.4. Avery's DNA found under the hood of Teresa's vehicle could have been transferred from elsewhere via an investigator's glove.
This was my thought as well, initially. However, from what I've read, the car was immediately sealed after it was found, and shipped to a state forensic lab. One would assume that trained forensic technicians would have been careful enough to avoid indirect transfer. But that possibility can't completely be ruled out, admittedly.5. From a media report: "Dean Strang stated they had a forensic anthropologist at trial who testified that an open fire wouldn’t have generated enough heat to burn a body in the way that those bones were destroyed, but it didn’t make the documentary."
Sorry, but that's awfully hard to take seriously. According to Dassey, an accelerant was used for one thing. For another, the anthropologist had no way of knowing how many times the body was burned, or for how long the fire was kept going, or what might have been done to the remains afterward, such as pulverize them with a sledge hammer for example.6. There were discrepancies in some of Brendan Dassey's descriptions, such as the outfit Teresa was wearing at the time.
Well, there were discrepancies in the description the rape victim provided in the earlier case, in which Avery was wrongly convicted. Eye witness testimony isn't always 100% reliable, obviously.7. From the same media report: "Dean Strang mentioned that there were little drops of deer blood all over Avery’s garage, essentially debunking the theory that they could have cleaned all the blood evidence out of the garage, since had they cleaned it that thoroughly, there wouldn’t have been any deer blood."
According to Dassey, some of the victim's blood spattered on the floor of the garage, and this area was thoroughly cleaned later, with a combination of chemicals. It's absurd to assume that the entire garage floor would have been cleaned, only the area where the victim's blood landed, which may not have been that large. Thus most of the floor would not have been cleaned, leaving plenty of room for the drops of deer blood to remain.8. The victim's DNA was not found on the leg irons or handcuffs found on the premises.
Whoa! Leg irons and handcuffs found on the premises? Sounds like someone got bound hand and foot. As for the absence of DNA, Avery would very likely have read up on the science of DNA, since it was DNA evidence that freed him on the earlier charge. He could easily have covered his victim's wrists and ankles with cloth cuffs as insulation from her bonds.9. A vial of Avery's blood was found in an evidence storage area with a hole in the stopper, suggesting some had been extracted with a hypodermic needle. Avery's lawyers interpreted this as evidence that the blood found in the victim's vehicle had been planted.
From an article published recently in OnMilwaukee (http://onmilwaukee.com/movies/articles/makingamudererbloodvial.html), the nurse who first drew the blood claimed that this was routinely the way it was inserted into the vial -- via a hypodermic syringe. Other experts have attested to this being a common practice.
"According to Dennis Ernst, director of the Center for Phlebotomy Education, in Coydon, Ind., there are two ways to use such vials. The first method involves the nurse drawing blood with a syringe and then sticking the syringe into the rubber stopper top of the vial to put the blood in the tube." The claim that there is something suspicious about that hole is thereby debunked. And as we already know from the "documentary," no trace of the preservative from the vial was found in the blood samples taken from the victim's car.I've already gone over Brendan Dassey's testimony, which has also been cited as evidence of a police conspiracy to nail Avery. (See my previous post.) While the detectives who questioned him could have done a better job and should have refrained from asking leading questions or volunteering information, there is more than enough in those interviews to convince any open-minded person of Avery's involvement in this horrific crime. On the one hand it's claimed that Dassey was too feeble minded to understand what he was being asked to describe, and on the other hand it's assumed he was intelligent enough to remember a long, detailed scenario dictated by the authorities. The notion that Dassey's testimony should be discounted simply because he agreed to speak without a lawyer present or that he was being manipulated by the authorities is just one more, bigger, fatter, juicier red herring. Of course we know very well that confessions can be coerced and can sometime be false. But this is far more than simply a confession, it's a detailed eye-witness description of what Dassey claims he actually experienced that day, and there is no way to extract Steven Avery from that account. Even if 90% of it can be questioned, the remainder contains more than enough detail to convict both of this crime. If Dassey's lawyer had been looking out for his client rather then obeying the will of Avery's legal team, he would have convinced him to co-operate with the prosecution in return for a light sentence. After all, he was just a kid and had some mental disability that enabled Avery to manipulate and intimidate him. Instead he's in for life, another of Avery's victims.
I find it disturbing in the extreme that so many otherwise intelligent people could so easily be taken in by red herrings of this sort, to the point that they are now insisting on Avery's innocence. I can't recall a case where the evidence is so patently obvious to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear.
[Added at 10:45 PM: I'd like to add that I do find it reasonable for someone to have legitimate doubts regarding certain evidence, and legitimate suspicions regarding how it was collected and what it might mean. My problem is not with those who have doubts and suspicions, but those who have made up their minds that evidence had to have been planted and the police investigating the case must therefore be corrupt. That's what I find disturbing, the all too easy willingness of so many to accept red herrings at face value and draw hard and fast conclusions on the basis of such questionable evidence.]
[Added 1-19: For a sensible take on the documentary, and the case as a whole, I strongly recommend the following interview with Nancy Grace, who covered the case from the beginning. ]