Avery: The Case Against Steven Avery and What “Making a Murderer” Gets Wrong – Book Review

Avery is available now.

By Jack Faivish

In his book Avery, Ken Kratz absolutely debunks any possible theory that Steven Avery is innocent of the murder of Teresa Halbach. He gives a point-by-point breakdown of each piece of evidence, giving a brand new perspective of the trial that Making a Murderer viewers didn’t get to see. He names countless times that the popular Netflix documentary failed to give the full story, favoring spliced video and audio over telling the truth.

When I watched the series in December 2015, a large part of me believed that there was a conspiracy surrounding Avery’s arrest and subsequent conviction. I viewed Ken Kratz as the villain. Part of that was due to the fact that the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department seemed to have a strong motive to putting Avery behind bars. After all, he was on the verge of winning a record-setting lawsuit for his wrongful conviction in the rape of Penny Bernstein for which Avery had spent 18 years in jail. Was it so hard to believe that he was wrongfully convicted again?

Kratz answers that with an emphatic yes. After reading this book, there are no questions about Steven Avery’s guilt. It is a certainty. As for Brendan Dassey though, Kratz doesn’t sound too convinced, or convincing, that Dassey should still be in jail.

Here are the most shocking and revelatory moments of the book, in which Kratz explains how the show either left out incriminating evidence that was shown at trial, or point-blank lied to further their entertainment-first, truth-second, agenda:

  1. The contents of Teresa Halbach’s purse (her cell phone, camera and PDA) were found in Steven Avery’s burn barrel. There are multiple witnesses, Blaine Dassey who testified that he saw Avery place a white plastic garbage bag into his burn barrel on the afternoon of October 31st and Robert Fabian, who saw a fire and smelled burning plastic. There were witnesses who saw Avery stoking the fire in the burn barrel on the night of the murder in the spot where Teresa Halbach’s body was burned. All of this was conveniently left out of the documentary.
  2. Also left out of Making a Murderer was the finding of a key bullet found in Avery’s garage with Halbach’s DNA on it. It was proven by forensic experts that the bullet was fired by Avery’s rifle, and could not have come from any other weapon.
  3. Brendan Dassey told investigators that Steven Avery reached under the hood of Teresa Halbach’s Toyota RAV4 hood. The DNA found under the hood was Steven Avery’s skin cells, meaning that Avery had been inside the vehicle. This is a critical reason why the conspiracy doesn’t hold any ground; As Kratz writes, “Even if a cop could plant skin cells on a hood latch, why would he? How would he have known Brendan would lead us to test it months later? Making a Murderer excludes any mention of the hood-latch DNA.”

My favorite part of the book is when Kratz details how ridiculously one would have to stretch their imagination for a conspiracy theory to be true. Here’s what he writes:

“Deputies Lenk and Colborn, with no history of misconduct or dishonesty, would have to locate Teresa Halbach’s RAV4, determine that Teresa had been murdered, and drive the SUV from wherever it was found to hide it at Avery’s Auto Salvage, without being detected. They must have known that Teresa was last seen and the Avery property on the date of her disappearance, unless by an incredible stroke of luck the person they chose to ‘set up’ for her murder was the last person to see her alive. Nobody can see them plant Teresa’s license plate in a junked vehicle on the lot. They would need Teresa’s blood, blood from an actively bleeding Avery, the body of the 25 year old victim, which these officers must have been ready to mutilate and burn. Later they’d have to sneak onto the Avery property, coming within 20 feet of Steve’s back door, to distribute her bones, a tooth, and a rivet from her jeans in the fire pit. They’d also have to hope, that several citizens saw Avery with a large bonfire at the exact location they chose for their bone planting and on the very evening Teresa went missing. They would have to slip into Calumet County evidence lockup or the Madison crime lab, and ‘borrow’ Steven Avery’s rifle. Here’s where it gets a little more difficult…they had to shoot the rifle, collect the bullet fragment, return to their secret stash of Teresa’s DNA, and plant her DNA on the bullet fragment, and then plant that bullet in the Avery garage. They had to hope that someone would tell the police that the murder happened in the garage, so law enforcement would get a search warrant to look for the bullet. They had to collect non-blood DNA from Steven Avery, and plant that DNA on Teresa’s car key, and plant the key in Avery’s bedroom.”

There are many more revelations in the book, but I’d hate to give it all away. True crime enthusiasts should check out Avery immediately.

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