The moment when everything turned against Steven Avery in the 'Making a Murderer' trial
That's the opinion of Dean Strang, one of the two defense attorneys who worked tirelessly to fight charges that Avery murdered photographer Teresa Halbach in 2005, as seen in Netflix's true-crime documentary series. He says that moment was the admission of an FBI test that helped to discredit the defense's argument that evidence had been planted to frame their client.
"I think it was a point at which momentum shifted," Strang recalled in a new interview with the Daily Beast. "And maybe not fairly."
A huge piece of the defense's strategy was the theory that Manitowoc County police officers had planted Avery's blood found in Halbach's car. The defense cited a vial of Avery's blood from his previous trial that appeared to be tampered with in an evidence locker.
In response, the prosecution brought in an FBI analyst who had tested the blood smears for EDTA, a chemical used to keep blood samples in liquid form (rather than coagulating) inside test tubes for use in future testing. Any presence of EDTA in the blood smears in Halbach's car would prove that it came from a test tube and not from Avery himself bleeding.
"We had to have a hearing out of the jury's presence to see if it was going to be admissible," Strang said. "We had no chance at that point to do independent testing, or even to react terribly well to it because we're being handed the report during trial and then, boom-[expert witness] Mark Lebow is on the stand the next morning."
"[Co-counsel Jerry Buting], in front of the jury, then tried to establish that there were reasons to view the FBI's hasty work as unreliable," Strang said.
"Making a Murderer" raises questions about why the EDTA test by the FBI may not be reliable, as explained in detail here.
Avery is currently serving a life sentence for the murder. His appeals for a new trial have been rejected all the way up through the Wisconsin Supreme Court and he can no longer have a court-appointed attorney. As seen on "Making a Murderer," Avery has requested the files for his case and is going it alone.
Strang has said there's a possibility he and Buting will represent Avery again.
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