True crime and trial opinions from a layman's perspective
From the chapter The Usual Suspects:
On social media, everybody from a 72 year old serial killer to “The German” to Teresa herself have been accused of killing Teresa Halbach. Just about everybody is more likely to have killed Teresa Halbach than Steven Avery, according to a large group of Netflix bingers. So, let’s play devil’s advocate. Let’s pretend that Steven Avery is the unluckiest bastard on the face of this planet. Who’s the most likely person to have killed Teresa Halbach; not according to the tokers or the cybersleuthers, but according to Steven himself?
We know he blames [or at least, originally blamed] the police for his framing, but he doesn’t blame them for the murder. So, which loser does he point his finger to, and why?
As we mentioned in the previous chapter, Steven’s defense team in 2007 wasn’t allowed to introduce evidence of third-party liability, other than Brendan Dassey. This pre-trial determination by the court was made by applying the standards of a 1984 case, the State vs. Denny.
Two years after Steven’s conviction, in June of 2009, as part of his appeal, Steven and his team filed a motion stating that the Denny test was incorrectly applied. Without going into detail regarding the merits of that argument right now [we’ll be doing that in Fool’s Errand] my opinion is the defense’s position may have some teeth.
I’m not sure the Judge made the right legal decision by disallowing the naming of other potential suspicious parties as part of Steven’s defense. Maybe he was concerned it would waste the court’s time, maybe he simply didn’t want to confuse the jury. Try the accused – let that be the court’s ambit [may have been his reasoning].
Regardless, it doesn’t change my position on Steven’s culpability, nor does it make the list of suspects any moresuspect. In theory could it have changed the outcome of the verdict? Maybe. In the interests of thoroughness we’re going to test those people Steven named as suspects in that 2009 motion. Afterwards we ought to be able to more confidently answer the question: could additional suspects have changed the outcome of the verdict in court?
For this narrative, we’re not going to pick apart the trial transcripts. We’ll refer to certain elements where relevant, but not in great detail. We are evaluating what Steven’s alleging according to his motion. After that we’ll rate their probability of guilt.
Ready to meet the line-up?
1. Scott Tadych
Tadych would also have had a motive to frame Steven Avery. At the time of Ms. Halbach’s murder, Tadych was dating Barb Janda, who lived next door to Steven Avery, and who is the mother of Bobby, Blaine, Brendan and Bryan Dassey. If Tadych killed Ms. Halbach, or if one of the Dassey boys killed her, Tadych would have had a motive to frame someone else for the crime, and Steven Avery would have been a convenient choice for a frame-up.
Is Steven a good or convenient choice? He may be convenient, but only because he lived next door. There were also other family members living on the lot. Why single out Steven? As far as whether or not he was a good choice, I’m not so sure. He had already been wrongly convicted and then exonerated, and was in the midst of a lawsuit with the county. Isn’t it possible the police wouldn’t have wanted to touch Steven with a ten foot pole? Why go through the massive trouble to make it look like him? I’m not sure that’s a brilliant plan.
Tadych also had opportunity to kill Ms. Halbach. Janda and Tadych are now married. As her then-boyfriend, Tadych would have been on the property numerous times, and would have had easy access to the property.
Tadych having access to the property is kind of a so-what. So did the customers, so did the bus driver, so did Santa Claus. Yes, it was a privately owned lot, but from all accounts, it was mostly open and people came and went as they pleased. Having access to the lot, in my opinion, isn’t exactly a big red flag.
Tadych testified that he was at the Janda home twice on October 31, 2005. It was Janda’s van that Teresa Halbach had come to photograph, and so Barb, and likely Tadych, knew Ms. Halbach would be coming to the yard to photograph the van. Because of the close proximity of the Janda and Steven Avery residences, anyone at the Janda home could see the van and Teresa Habach coming to photograph the van. Indeed, Bobby Dassey testified that he saw her taking pictures of his mother’s car.
According to the bits of testimony that we saw in MAKING A MURDERER, Scott Tadych testified that his mom was in the hospital on October 31st. Both he and Barb visited her sometime after 6pm that night. Scott was also at work earlier in the day. There are a few hours in between leaving work and his visit, where he says he went into the woods to go hunting.
Without knowing Scott’s regular routines, or how frequently he hunts, it’s hard to say if this is normal or suspicious. The fact that he needed to visit his mom that evening, and that he was going with his girlfriend, seems like a really inconvenient time to kill, and potentially rape some random girl. Not to mention there’d be the hassle of dumping her body and the car, and then planting evidence.
On the other hand, Steven wasn’t going anywhere that day, nor was anybody expecting him to be around. He could take his sweet time doing whatever he wanted to Teresa, far more so than Scott Tadych could.
Tadych also had a direct connection to the crime. Tadych’s alibi for the time at which it is believed that Ms. Halbach was killed is Bobby Dassey, who is now Tadych’s step-son. Bobby Dassey and Scott Tadych are mutual alibis in this case. Each states that he saw the other while driving, on their way to hunt. (Of course, that they saw each other while driving does not mean that one of them could have had a restrained Teresa Halbach in his car at that time). No one else can vouch for their whereabouts during that afternoon.
Brendan Dassey can vouch for the fact that neither Scott or Bobby were involved. With all of the heat on Brendan after he confessed, he never once accused his mother’s boyfriend (or brother) of being there or having anything to do with the crime. Is it possible Brendan knew his mother’s boyfriend was guilty, so he blamed Steven to cover for him? I don’t think so.
By all accounts, Brendan idolized Steven*, so why choose to screw him over instead of somebody else, especially your mother’s boyfriend, who quite frankly seemed like a dick?
How much of a dick was Scott?
Tadych’s motive to kill Ms. Halvach is his violent and volatile personality. According to Tadych’s co-workers, Tadych is a short-tempered and angry person capable of murder. Tadych was described as a chronic liar who blows up at people, “screams a lot” and is a “psycho.” Another co-worker described Tadych as “not being hooked up right” and someone who would “fly off the handle at everyone at work.”
Another co-worker of Tadych reported that Tadych had approached him to sell him a .22 rifle that belonged to one of the Dassey boys. A .22 rifle was believed to be the murder weapon in this case. Tadych’s previous experiences with the court system show him to be a violent and impulsive person, particularly towards women.
Between 1994 and 2002 there were at least five, possibly more, police reports and restraining orders involving Scott Tadych. He repeatedly harassed, and sometimes assaulted, his girlfriend Constance Welnetz both at her home and at her place of employment. He was reported to have punched her, her son and her lover. He was reported to have called her names like “fucker” and “cunt” and said “You will die for this, bitch” when he found her with another man.
Scott’s history with women is definitely troubling. It does appear however that a lot of it’s focused on this one particular woman. Obviously, that doesn’t excuse it or preclude it from being a point of concern. But if I have to evaluate Scott as a suspect, solely on Steven Avery’s claims, I don’t see anything that connects Scott to Teresa here.
If Steven was at his home from 2pm-on October 31, how did Scott get a hold of Teresa after she met with Steven, then kill her, maybe rape her, throw her and her phone, camera, palm pilot and clothing into the fire directly in front of Steven’s house and let it burn without Steven being aware? Why doesn’t Steven mention Scott when he’s asked early on who he thinks could have been involved?
We also can’t forget that more than one person testified to seeing Steven standing by the burning fire that night.
2. Charles (Chuckie) Avery…
Charles Avery also had a motive to frame Steven Avery for Ms. Halbach’s murder, namely…
FOOL’S GOLD: The State vs Steven Avery is book two in The Halbach Murder Mystery Series. It will be available on Amazon this weekend.
In the meantime, if you haven’t read book one, check out FOOL’S PARADISE.
Both are ebooks and can be viewed on your Kindle, or if you don’t have a Kindle, just download the free Reading App and read from your PC or smart device.
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