Is There A Dark Side To Steven Avery?
As you’re aware, I’ve been obsessed with the docu-series “Making A Murderer” and I’ve been doing a lot of research into the case and one of the best places to find some great information is on Reddit because you see arguments from both sides of the table – albeit, you hear more from the ‘pro-Steven Avery’ group than you do from the ‘anti-Steven Avery group’.
Today while browsing Reddit, I came across this post – Does anyone else think the documentary film makers manipulated their audience (us)? and it was posted around January 1st by /u/ biosketch – now, I’m not saying I agree that the film makers manipulated us, but, it seems as though they omitted a few important details in the docu-series that makes you wonder if there is a dark side to Steven Avery.
This is /u/biosketch ‘s post below:
The makers of this series distorted facts of this case an omitted others entirely. Their manipulation of the facts, I believe, goes beyond the “everyone has their own perspective” -type bias into outright deception. Here is a short list of distortions. Feel free to add more if I left anything out.
Distorted presentation of Steven’s character
- The doc presents the cat incident as a sort of weird accident that happened when some people were tossing a cat around the fire. (editHere is the Steven’s voice over during this segment ) But it was determined that Steven doused the cat, a family pet, in gasoline and tossed it in the fire to watch it die. Contrary to what they doc makers say, Steven did not initially fess up to this crime, at first saying he didn’t have anything to do with it. link1 link2
- The incident with Steven’s cousin, Sandra Morris, was presented like it was the act of a bullied misfit who lacked coping skills. But it is on record that Steven Avery ran Morris off the road in January and held a gun to hear head in an attempt to get her into his own vehicle. After Morris pointed out the infant in the backseat, he did step down (nice guy). But one wonders what would have happened to Morris if he proceeded with the abduction. Given that he had exposed himself to her in the past, we might infer that he intended to sexually assault her. Either way, this was a serious crime for which Avery received a serious prison sentence: 6 years.
- The threats to his wife while he was in prison were minimized and glossed over. The doc did not include the lovely Easter cards he sent to his kids, Quoted from story in local CBS affiliate (editoriginal link to article is broken):
Bears and raccoons grace the cover. A cute well-wish to a child from a Father. But, inside of this card reveals a different message. It reads, “Daddy will git mom when daddy gits out. I will…I hate mom.Kiss Daddy here. Love Daddy.” (editHere  is a link to the letters shown in the film. Steven’s voice is played while these are shown, saying “a lotta back and forth” and implies Lori started it. link )
- In 2004, Steven was investigated for the sexual abuse of his teenage cousin. The victim did not admit to the assault and later said it was because Steven threatened to kill her family. The pending charges were not pursued following the arrest for the murder of Teresa.
Furthermore, reported the newspaper, “The filings also include statements from a woman, now 41, who said she was raped by Avery, who told her ‘if she yelled or screamed there was going to be trouble.’ There also is an affidavit from a girl who said she was raped by Avery. ‘The victim’s mother indicated that the victim does not want to speak about the sexual assault between her and Steven Avery because Steven Avery told her if she ‘told anyone about their activities together he would kill her family,'” the filing said. According to the newspaper article, “The affidavit said Avery admitted to his fiancee that he had sexually assaulted the girl.” link
- In a conversation with his Mom, Brendan says that Steven sexually molested him and others. The transcript also shows that Brendan is quite clearly terrified of Steven. I only noticed this after reading the transcripts posted on this board. One wonders what are in the other documents, or the trial transcripts of Avery, which are not currently available so far as I know. (Edit here is a link to a comment documenting film makers’ “creative” editing of the transcript)
- Steven told fellow inmates that he planned to abduct, rape, torture and burn a woman after he got out of prison. (Edit The testimony of fellow prisoners, who claim that Steven both talked about this and showed them a diagram of a “torture chamber” were filed to the court, according to a local news source. link )
- After being released from prison, Steven Avery was not adjusting well. link He was released as a free man and thus did not have the support that a parole officer might provide. He moved back into an ice shanty for a time, presumably because he missed the confines of prison. link I feel sympathy for him, since he served 12 years more than he would have for the Morris incident, and that couldn’t have been easy. But the doc spends a lot of time portraying him as happy to be out and well adjusted when in fact he was showing signs of mental imbalance, some of which was probably related to his ordeal.
Distorted presentation of evidence
- The hole in the blood vial was not an indication of tampering. That is the way those bottles look. (edit The film makers not only portrayed this as evidence of tampering, but they tried to suppress doubts that the hole was a normal feature of the stopper by including a call from the defense lawyers to the lab who said they don’t stick needles in vials. link1 link2 )
- The gun that fired the bullet found in the floor of the garage was found in Steven’s bedroom (
with “Steve” written on a piece of tape on the muzzle loaderthis was a different gun) and taken into evidence on the first day of the search. It was later confirmed that the bullet in the floor w/ Teresa’s DNA was fired from that weapon.Ballistic tests found that bullet found in the garage floor w/ Teresa’s DNA was consistent with being fired from Steven’s .22.
- The cut on Steven’s right hand was consistent with the blood near the ignition of Teresa’s car. It is not clear how the cops could have known about this cut in the time frame that they would have needed to plant the blood in the car.
- Steven’s DNA was found under the hood latch of Teresa’s car. This DNA was not from blood, so it was presumably from sweat. They did not check for DNA under the hood until the detail of Steven disconnecting the battery was mentioned in Brendan’s confession. (edit for timing, see Confirmed in Dassey Trial Transcripts, Day 2, 25/16; they did the swabs on April 3) (edit2 The police have to push for this detail in the March 1 interview link . In the Feb 27 interview, he states that he thought Steven was going to crush the car, but does not talk about him lifting the hood link, pg 22 )
- Steven attempted to mask his identity by using *67 when calling Teresa that day. He set up the appointment under his sister’s name. A co-worker of Teresa’s said that Steven once answered the door in only a towel and that he made her uncomfortable. (Edit The towel incident was not allowed as testimony. Coworker’s claim can be sourced to a local reporter. link )
- In his confession, Brendan said that he helped Steven bleach the garage floor. The pants he was wearing that day had bleach stains.
As a speculative final note, I would like to address the question of why. Why would the film makers present the facts of this case in such a distorted manner, both in terms of Steven’s criminal history and also the evidence in the murder case? Here is my theory: The series is called “Making a Murderer.” This might lead you to suspect that it would be an exploration of how Steven Avery’s character was shaped over the course of his wrongful imprisonment. Get treated like an animal, and eventually you will act the part… that sort of thing. And indeed, that is what the series was going to be about: not an attempt to prove that Steven Avery was innocent, but rather an exploration of the reasons for why he might commit such a horrible crime.
And then came Serial, which was unbelievably successful in large part because it gave us, the audience, something to debate. We chose a side, did our “research,” and endlessly argued on social media. They wanted to replicate that success, so they turned their meditation of Steven Avery’s character (how this murderer was made) into a whodunnit, though they kept the name “Making a Murderer.” And here we all are….
(edit: /u/rubusidaeus points that it’s unlikely the film makers re-edited in response to the success of Serial because it takes years to edit film. This sounds like a fair point, and is backed by an comment from Ken Krantz in a recent Maxim interview in which he states that in Feb 2013 the film makers already had a version of the film that he called “advocacy piece created by and for the Steven Avery defense” that they had shown in festivals and such. link So my motive theory doesn’t explain why the film was edited that way, though it may still explain some of its appeal.)
Addendum: A few commenters have criticized my characterization of the way the film makers portray Steven’s threatening letters sent to prison. A few more claim that the cat incident was not minimized. Time willing, I am going to watch this section of the doc and record what was shown and what was left out. Thank you for helping me make this post better.
2015-12-30 formatting; added one link (more to come); changed wording of ballistics evidence (thanks /u/castle_danger ); Fixed “Making a Murder” (thanks /u/Fatgreyclouds ); added source for prisoner testimony, towel incident wasn’t allowed in court, added cat links, added link about cousin rape plus a newspaper quote, struck muzzle loader claim, added that link was broken to original source of creepy Easter card (thanks /u/ANTIVAX_JUGGALETTE ); Added link “Avery struggles with his freedom” (thanks /u/pyjamasbox !); Added link to /u/IM_CASTOR_TROY bolded transcript of Brendan/Mom condo. Thanks IM_CASTOR_TROY!;
2015-12-31 Added a link to info provided by /u/ANTIVAX_JUGGALETTE about trunk latch timing (thanks again!); Added link from /u/charles-babbage that shows the cops really fishing for the hood pop info (thanks charles-babbage!); Added links to the blood vial thing, and another sentence emphasizing how misleading the film makers were in this instance; Added a note that my “motive” theory was probably inaccurate (thanks /u/rubusidaeus ); Added screenshots from /u/9617573 of Lori/Steven correspondence (thank you 9617573!) also linked to transcription of Steven’s voice over; Added link to Steven’s voice over describing the cat “accident”
Pretty eye opening, right? You get to see a dark side to Steven Avery. Sure, I knew (and probably a lot of you knew) that Steven Avery did indeed do some screwed up things in his past and he was not an angel, but learning about some of this other stuff is alarming.
I am still going to say that both Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey both need new trials. The first one was ridiculous and there was A LOT of reasonable doubt, and if there is reasonable doubt, then you can not find somebody guilty.
What are your thoughts? Now that you’re aware that there is more of a dark side to Steven Avery, does it change your opinion at all?