Who Unlocked The RAV4?
There is conflicting testimony on who unlocked the RAV4 and when it was unlocked. Some say it was unlocked before it got to the crime lab and others are saying it was unlocked at the crime lab.
Redditor FIB1 is trying to figure out who unlocked the RAV4
Did LE make a duplicate key for the RAV4 before the key was “found” in SA’s trailer? I’m leaning that way. Even if I accept that the RAV4 was locked when it was delivered to the Crime Lab (the trial testimony is far from conclusive on even this simple issue), LE still has some explaining to do about how the RAV4 was mysteriously unlocked at the crime lab.
Ertl testified he delivered a locked RAV4 to the Crime Lab no later than 2:00 am on the 6th. Photographer Groffey was called in mid-morning on the 6th by the lab supervisor to take pictures before the evidence technicians started their work. Groffey testified that the driver’s door–and only the driver’s door–was unlocked when he first approached the car. Groffey was then able to reach around inside and unlock the other doors. That cannot be true. Groffey could NOT manually unlock the rear hatch/tailgate door from inside because there was no power to the electric locks and NO unlock lever on the inside of the rear door. See page 11 of the manual.http://www.ownersmanualsforcars.com/manuals.item.3690/Toyota-RAV4-Owners-Manual-1999.html
So Groffey was either not telling the truth about only the driver’s door being unlocked when he arrived or he was not telling the truth about unlocking the rear hatch door. The manual override lever to unlock the doors in the event of a loss of electrical power only unlocks the driver’s and passengers’ doors!
Now maybe the crime lab used a slim jim or similar tool to unlock the driver’s door, but the rear door requires a key or electricity to unlock or actually picking the lock. I would love to have some feedback from a locksmith.
The possibility that LE made a key is supported by the Calumet County Evidence List which shows a RAV4 copy key in evidence and which copy key has a different log number (8037) than the “found” RAV4 key (7620). See page 14. http://www.stevenaverycase.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Calumet-County-Sheriffs-Department-Evidence-List.pdf
So if LE made a key to unlock the car by the 6th, it could not have been a surprise that the “found” key fit in the locks on the 8th. The possibility that LE made one or more new keys is consistent with my earlier post positing the “found” key used a newer key blank for 2001 and newer RAV4s, not the round key blank for 1999 models. https://www.reddit.com/r/MakingaMurderer/comments/45o4ij/wrong_model_key_planted/ ?
You may be asking yourself “What does it matter who unlocked the RAV4?” They go on to explain:
Even Strang and Buting built part of their defense on the theory that the RAV4 was tampered with by LE at the Avery Yard AFTER it was found. Remember all of the testimony about the tarp creating a tent over the car and hiding it from view?
Let’s consider the three scenarios–tampered with before placed at Avery Yard, tampered with while at Avery Yard, and tampered with after left Avery Yard. If your consensus thought train is correct and the vehicle was filled with incriminating evidence, placed at the Avery Yard and then securely locked, why was it unlocked at the Crime Lab? Without a satisfactory explanation, there is a failure of the chain of custody and there is a profound failure to maintain the integrity of the evidence. By themselves, those compromises could have been grounds to suppress all evidence recovered from the vehicle. The defense’s request to suppress the evidence would have been strengthened by the inability of ANYONE to testify that they observed any blood evidence while the vehicle was at Avery’s.
For scenario 2, tampered with while at Avery’s, if the doors were actually UNLOCKED at Avery’s as evidenced by the doors still being unlocked when delivered to the Crime Lab, then the defense is majorly helped. Evidence technician Ertl’s credibility is out the window because he said the doors were locked and were still locked when he left it at the Crime Lab. The theory of planting by Strang and Buting becomes that much more plausible.
Now for scenario number 3, tampered with at the Crime Lab, if all testimony was that the vehicle was locked when it was delivered and yet somehow it is not locked, then there is again a flagrant lack of evidence preservation. If you do not know who unlocked the car, you do not know who accessed the car, when, and for what purposes. If you were a reviewing court, how likely would you be to affirm the integrity of the evidence found when no one can establish how or when the evidence got there? It is a fundamental problem for the prosecution.
My post was really following one aspect of scenario 3, that the car was locked when delivered but then unlocked. If I am right about the rear hatch needing a key to be unlocked and the CCSD log reflecting the existence of a second key, then the “found” key becomes that much more suspect. Being able to show that LE made a duplicate key before the 8th when the key was found and that the key blank was wrong to me is strong evidence in support of a planting argument.
As you can see, depending on when the RAV4 was unlocked, a whole new can of worms can be opened up due to the fact that their was possible evidence tampering and people aren’t telling the truth – which we’re finding out that a lot of people weren’t so truthful on the stand.
When the question was first asked a few weeks ago, I didn’t pay any attention to it because I didn’t think it mattered – but I spent some time looking into it some more and realized that it does matter and it is an important piece of the puzzle.
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