On Friday 12th August, Judge William Duffin asserted that Brendan Dassey, Steven Avery’s co-accused, should either be freed or face retrial within 90 days.
Duffin found that both the 5th and 14th amendments to the US constitution had been infringed in Dassey’s case. The 5th amendment guarantees the right to a fair trial, as well as asserting the defendant’s right to silence and self-incrimination. The 14th amendment covers due process and equal protection under the law. Duffin ruled that repeated assertions during Police interviews that Dassey ‘had nothing to worry about’ constituted false promises:
“These repeated false promises, when considered in conjunction with all relevant factors, most especially Dassey’s age, intellectual deficits, and the absence of a supportive adult, rendered Dassey’s confession involuntary under the Fifth and 14th Amendments”
The judge made specific reference to use of the idiom “honesty is the only thing that will set you free”, a phrase frequently used during interviews. Dassey’s low IQ and learning impairments meant that he had difficulty telling idioms (which we routinely take as not being literally true) apart from regular speech.
Kathleen Zellner files a motion requesting access to test evidence
“Mr. Avery is requesting, and is willing to pay for, the most comprehensive, thorough, and advanced forensic testing ever requested by a criminal defendant in the State of Wisconsin”
On August 26th Steven Avery’s lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, filed a motion for post-conviction scientific testing, stating that the testing will “once again, prove that he did not commit the crime for which he has been convicted”. The 154-page document is available for download (click here).
Probably the single most damning revelation for the Police is the submission of a report (exhibit C in the document) which states that the Police seized Teresa Halbach’s RAV4 on November 3rd 2005. The report comes from the Manitowoc Sheriff’s office and was written by Detective Dave Remiker. We already know from the trial testimony that Officer Andrew Colborn ran a check of the RAV4’s number plate, mentioning that it was ’99 Toyota.
At trial Colborn was unable to account for why he would have asked the despatch operator to run the licence plate, nor why he confirmed to the operator the make and year of the car. According to the State’s version of events, the RAV4 was not located for another two days when it would be found partially obscured on the Avery property on November 5th.
Officer Colborn is the person who takes the call about Gregory Allen being the perpetrator in the original crime Steven Avery was accused of, whilst Detective Remiker was one of the investigators who managed to find bullet fragments on the garage floor four months after the original search was unable to find anything. Remiker was reprimanded by superiors for failing to keep a record of who was visiting the jury during their sequestration at Avery’s second trial despite being tasked to do that.
Whilst it does not name names Zellner’s motion does cast doubt on other individuals, although it’s clear who is being refereed to. “Individual A” who reports that he saw a large fire at the Avery residence can only be Joshua Radandt, who gave a statement to police to that effect; the redacted statement is attached as an exhibit. Zellner’s motion states that Individual A gave a statement relating to a large fire before anyone knew that the body had been burned; that the statement was materially incorrect in respect of the placing of the burn barrel; and that it was impossible to see Avery’s backyard from where the observation was supposedly made.
Similarly, “Individual B” was said to have misrepresented that a broken light on the RAV4 had been damaged some months before Ms Halbach’s death. The light was found inside the back of the RAV4 and Zellner contends that the perpetrator or someone else connected with the crime must have placed the light there. A DOJ report affixed to the motion makes clear that Individual B must be Ryan Hillegas, Halbach’s ex-boyfriend. Hillegas (as Individual B) is also said to have accessed the Avery property during the public search by giving a false name.
Both Individual A and Individual B accessed the Avery property on November 7th, after it was closed to the public. The motion states that the victim’s bones were planted on the 7th before being discovered on the 8th. Whilst Radandt and Hillegas are not specifically named, the motion does say that the full theory of third party involvement will be made public once testing is completed and it looks likely that they will be implicated in Halbach’s murder in some way.