In 2003, after eighteen years in prison for a sexual assault committed by another person, Steven Avery was exonerated. Gregory Allen was identified via DNA as the real perpetrator. Manitowoc County Sheriff Tom Koucerek and Manitowoc County Prosecutor Dennis Vogel coerced the victim of the crime into incriminating Avery. Gregory Allen went on to commit more crimes thanks to Koucerek and Vogel.
Avery brought a lawsuit against Manitowoc County, Koucerek, Vogel, and others for the stitch up that led to his prison time. During discovery for the upcoming litigation, the plaintiff's attorneys found that information was forwarded to Manitowoc County that would have freed Avery as early as 1995. After Avery's release from prison, the recipient of that information, Sgt. Andrew Coburn, wrote a belated report at the direction of his superior officer, Lt. James Lenk. Lenk informed then Sheriff Ken Peterson. Peterson hid the report in his office safe.
Discovery for the lawsuit was proving to be a problem for the county and the sheriff's department. The county insurer was denying coverage for the behaviors of former Sheriff Koucerek and others. And, the discovery process uncovered subsequent misdeeds such as the above mentioned Coburn's failure to write a timely report. Coburn, Lenk, and Peterson now faced the possibility of inclusion in the lawsuit.
During that troublesome discovery process, a local photographer was reported missing. Teresa Halbach was last heard from 31 October, 2005.
Halbach's RAV4 was found in the Avery Salvage Yard on 5 November, 2005. A massive search of the yard and the adjacent property where Steven Avery lived took place. After several passes of searching, remains later identified as Halbach's were discovered in a burn barrel near Barbara Dassey's home and a burn area behind Avery's garage. Potential remains were also found in an adjacent quarry.
Steven Avery was arrested for possession of a firearm 0n 9 November, 2005 and charged for the murder of Theresa Halbach on 11 November.
On 2 March, 2006, Calumet County Prosecutor Ken Kratz gave a gory and detailed televised press conference in which he claimed that Avery and his sixteen‑year‑old nephew Brendan Dassey brutally raped and murdered Halbach. Kratz was also one of the Wisconsin special prosecutors prosecuting Avery. The confession had been extracted the day before. No one had yet verified the confession. Crucial information was fed to Dassey during this and previous interrogations.
Kratz charged sixteen‑year‑old Brendan with the kidnapping, sexual assault, and murder of Halbach as well as mutilating a corpse. Kratz added mutilating a corpse, kidnapping and sexual assault to Avery's charges.
The trials of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey took place in 2007 with both found guilty of the murder of Teresa Halbach. The trials were separate and covered two different crime scenes with one perpetrator in the Avery trial and two perpetrators in the Dassey trial. Dassey was found guilty on all charges. The judge in the Avery trial dropped the kidnapping and sexual assault charges because of lack of evidence. Avery was found not guilty of mutilating a corpse
In 2009, "An Alternative(1)" was published. This was an account from a woman who felt her husband was a possible suspect in the Halbach case. She had given information and some evidence to the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Department. Detective Dennis Jacobs informed her that he didn't think there was a connection without any testing of the evidence she provided. The wife, aka "the citizen," did not assign guilt to her husband. Based on his history and suspicious items she found, she felt that police should take a look.
During this time, she was in contact with Manitowoc County Assistant District Attorney Michael Griesbach. Griesbach was prosecuting the woman's husband, aka "the German," for Burglary, intimidating a victim, criminal trespass, bail jumping, and resisting arrest. She had spoken with Griesbach about her suspicions of her husband. When the accused was released into the community during court proceedings, Griesbach apparently did not inform the wife.
Things were quiet until Griesbach, wrote his first book about the case. Unreasonable Inferences: The True Story of a Wrongful Conviction and Its Astonishing Aftermath(2) was published in 2010.
The first part of this book covered the 1985 wrongful conviction of Steven Avery. Griesbach detailed his own investigation into the main players, Sheriff Koucerek and Prosecutor Vogel. This was separate from the Innocence Project's exoneration of Avery. That did not stop Griesbach from patting himself on the back. He did not free Steven Avery contrary to some news reports.
At the end of this first section, he wrote of the Attorney General's Report on the Avery case(3). I had already written extensively on the report(4). Griesbach's conclusion about the slippery conclusion by Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager was similar to mine. The conclusion of no wrongdoing appeared to have been written by a person who had not read the investigative portion of the report.
The second part of Unreasonable Inferences is an affirmation of Avery's guilt in the Halbach case. Where I saw a repeat of the flawed 1985 investigation of Avery, Griesbach saw certainty of guilt. While he occasionally questioned the actual guilt of Avery, these interludes were surrounded by claims of Avery's terrible acts both real or imagined.
After the discovery of Halbach's RAV4, Griesbach was at the Avery Salvage Yard writing up search warrants. He was removed from the case because of conflict of interest. Manitowoc County Sheriff's deputies were also under the same conflict of interest ban. Calumet County Sheriff Jerry Pagel publicly promised that Manitowoc County police would not be involved with the on premises investigation.
Griesbach claims Halbach's keys "including the ignition key to her RAV4"(5) were found in Avery's bedroom. That is a falsehood. A single valet key that operated the RAV4 ignition was found in the bedroom under very questionable circumstances. The key was discovered by Manitowoc County Sherriff's Department Lieutenant Lenk and Sergeant Coburn.
I guess Sheriff Pagel lied about the involvement of Manitowoc County police. Some were active from the start of the investigation in entering the area for multiple searches. Griesbach neglects the fact Coburn and Lenk of the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Department were present during the discovery of the key.
Griesbach claims that deputies entered the bedroom specifically to search behind the bookcase and the entire set of keys fell out. Additionally, Griesbach added that Steven Avery's DNA was found on one of the keys.
Griesbach's statements about the discovery of the key contradicts trial testimony by the Sgt. Coburn who made the belated find. Griesbach did not mention that a Calumet County deputy was not babysitting the Manitowoc deputies as he was instructed to do.
Only a bit of Avery DNA was found on the key. There were no fingerprints on the key. If you drop a key on carpeting in your home, it will have your DNA. We all shed DNA as we go about our daily life. Thus, a key found with shed DNA is not proof of much. The real evidence, such as anything to show the key was handled by Halbach, was missing.
This section on the key is very sloppy writing. Griesbach needs a fact checker to edit his books. But, it is typical of his writing. He has a need to make Avery guilty above and beyond the jury trial.
In 2014, Griesbach published a second book, The Innocent Killer: A True Story of a Wrongful Conviction and Its Astonishing Aftermath(6). This was a reboot of Unreasonable Inferences with some additions. The Acknowledgements states "not only is this my first book… (7)." This book has a different title and publisher from Unreasonable Inferences. But, much of the content is identical. He added material to make Avery appear much worse and to undermine the trial defense attorneys.
Griesbach brought up a cat burning incident in both books. There has been no denial that this took place; a police report covers the incident(8). At the Avery trial, Judge Patrick Willis did not allow the act into evidence. The incident had taken place long before the trial and had not been repeated. And Avery was not alone in this act. The burning is hardly proof of murder as much as a desperate prosecutor might wish.
At one point, Griesbach stated that Avery had a history of being a "dangerous deviant(9)". He states that during an altercation when Avery ran his cousin off the road, he attempted to rape her(10). There is nothing in the police report that supports that allegation(11). That does not translate into a sexual history. The only other case I am aware of came up when Ken Kratz tossed a bone to Brown County Prosecutor John Zakowski(12). The implication was that Avery had sexually assaulted a niece. But, when the police had investigated several years prior to the bone throwing, There was nothing to act on. Zakowski stated he would not prosecute unless Avery was found not guilty of the Halbach murder. No doubt, the State had plans on coercing the niece into becoming a victim.
Griesbach states that defense attorneys tried the case in public opinion. The opposite is true. Kratz gave his infamous televised 2 March, 2006 press conference to reveal a terrible crime scene based on an uncorroborated confession extracted from sixteen‑year‑old Brendan Dassey. Ken Kratz needed no facts. Griesbach added that the voice of Defense Attorney Jerome Buting as shrill and sarcastic(13).
As time went on, Kratz would release statements in court hearings like "Avery wants to go back to prison, that's why he did it." The press swallowed the statements and regurgitated them for our consumption.
Griesbach waved off the dishonesty and grandstanding of Special Prosecutor Kratz and his team saying that Kratz was sometimes over the top, but prosecutors do that sometimes. The author ignored the intent of Kratz' 2 March, 2006 press conference/tirade which was to enrage the public and destroy chances of a fair trial for Avery and Dassey. Griesbach omits that Kratz was criticized by others in the Wisconsin legal system(14). In contrast to Griesbach's opinion of Buting's shrill voice, he found that Special Prosecutor Ken Kratz spoke in a "pleasant low‑key comforting way(15)."
Kratz, Sheriff Pagel, and others released statements to the press regularly. In June, 2006 Manitowoc County Sheriff Ken Peterson made a televised statement the "Avery would kill again." Peterson also opined that it would be easier to eliminate Avery than to frame him. Pagel was happy to tell the press that blood in Halbach's RAV4 showed that Avery was a liar(16).
To trying to paint Avery in a more evil light, Griesbach refers to his Mansonesqe beard after his 2003 release(17). Not so. The beard was very ZZ Topish.
Law enforcement and prosecutors involved in the Avery and Dassey cases did not see the storm headed their way.
2. Unreasonable Inferences:The True Story of a Wrongful Conviction and Its Astonishing Aftermath, Point Beach Publishing, October 2, 2010
3. Memorandum Wisconsin Department of Justice • Steven Avery Wrongful Conviction
5. Unreasonable Inferences p 240
6. The Innocent Killer: A True Story of a Wrongful Conviction and Its Astonishing Aftermath ABA Publishing, August 7,2013
7. Innocent Killer pXI
9. Innocent Killer p195
10. Innocent killer p 199
13. buting Innocent Killer 247
15. Innocent Killer p240
17. Innocent Killer p151
in category Brendan Dassey,Steven Avery