Those hoping for Steven Avery's case to get turned upside down in Making a Murderer's second season probably came away from Netflix's true crime documentary feeling a little let down. Avery's new lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, promised a "tsunami" of new evidence when she took the case on in 2016, but did she actually deliver?
Well, yes and no. Zellner spent the majority of her time recruiting scientific experts she claimed should have been called for the defense during the trial but never were to help her prove Avery could not have killed Teresa Halbach. This so-called tsunami of evidence was mostly just testimony from experts about bullet fragments, DNA, and bones, plus a few experiments and reenactments to disprove the series of events prosecutors claimed took place on the day Halbach died.
There were, however, a few new nuggets of information we didn't have before, which also seem to hint at a cover-up or frame job of some kind. Here is all the new evidence from Making a Murderer Season 2.
1. The cadaver dogs. During the initial search for Teresa, investigators brought in scent and cadaver dogs to aid in the process. When the police first began the search of the Avery property, the canine units veered away from the junk yard and followed Teresa's scent into the quarry nearby. Cadaver dogs alerted on a suspected burial site west of Avery's property on Nov. 7 and then on Nov. 8, human bones were found in an Avery/Dassey burn barrel. This was the second search of the barrel, with the first turning up no findings of human bones.
2. The back road. There was an alternate entrance where Teresa's car could have been brought onto Avery's property. Prosecutors argued that there was no way in and out of the Avery junkyard except through the main road, but Zellner found evidence that a back road could have been used to get Teresa's RAV4 onto the property from the nearby quarry owned by Joshua Radiant. The road was normally blocked off by junk cars, but Zellner found evidence that those cars had been forcibly pushed aside to create enough space to drive through them.
3. The secondary burn location. Dr. Dahan, a forensic expert hired by Zellner, made an important discovery about the burn pit where Teresa Halbach's body was supposedly cremated. He said that not only was the burn pit not deep enough to be the primary burn site, but there was also no evidence of a fuel source required to keep a fire strong enough of disposing of a human body burning. Additionally, when burning human remains, no matter what kind of fuel you use, the combustion of the tissue (the fat in particular) creates a black/brown goo that will leave a stain behind on open ground. There was no such stain in Avery's burn pit, making him positive that the body was burned at a secondary location.
4. The hood latch DNA. When Avery was first arrested, he was taken to a hospital to give DNA samples to investigators. Swabs were taken of his groin area before the nurse on the case realized that the warrant did not call for groin swabs. Lead investigator Tom Fassbender noted that the swabs were disposed of, but the nurse did not. A high concentration of Avery's DNA was found on Teresa's RAV4 hood latch, but the amount found is inconsistent with the amount you'd normally find from touch DNA. Zellner theorized that investigators simply renamed the groin swab "hood latch swab," which is why there was such a high presence of DNA on it.
5. Bobby Dassey's hard drive. Bobby Dassey's hard drive was confiscated in 2006 in Fassbender's initial investigation, but the contents were never turned over to Avery's lawyers. Zellner's forensic analysts found disturbing content on the hard drive, including searches for underage porn, photos of dead bodies, and search terms like "drowned girl" and "gun to head." Zellner was also able to get multiple sources to admit that Bobby had told them he'd never seen Teresa approach Avery's trailer like he testified, and he'd actually seen her leave the property that day.
6. The new witness. An additional witness came forward to Zellner saying that two days before Teresa's car was discovered on Avery's property, he spotted a teal green RAV4 parked off Route 147. The next day, he saw Teresa missing poster (with the car info on it), and gave that tip to a Manitowoc police officer, whom he identified as Andy Colborn. This is the same officer who made the mysterious dispatch call inquiring about Teresa's vehicle before it was found on Avery's property. He showed proof he texted Scott Tadych, Brendan Dassey's stepfather, to let him know about this potential new evidence, but Tadych never followed up. Zellner later discovered that Tadych's trailer was just three-tenths of a mile down the road from the RAV4 sighting. Tadych and Bobby Dassey both provided alibis for each other, stating that they drove past one another on Route 147 during the time Teresa was at the Avery property.
7. The parking light. The front parking light on Teresa's RAV4 was broken off and shoved under the backseat when police found her vehicle. Teresa's ex-boyfriend Ryan Hillegan claimed that she had made an insurance claim about the broken light and taken a cash payout but had not yet had it repaired. The broken light was not mentioned on the missing poster (which included details about the car) and the other client she visited on the day of her disappearance did not recall any damage to her vehicle, saying it looked "very new."
8. The day planner. Teresa spoke with two people on the day of her disappearance to set up appointments, which she wrote down in her planner while she was out driving. Zellner calculated that Teresa would not have had enough time between appointments to drop her planner off at her house, and yet Hillegas provided the page from her day planner as evidence. Zellner argues that since Teresa couldn't have dropped the planner off at home, it must have been in her car when she was killed, and the only way Ryan Hillegas would have had it was if he'd had access to the car before it was found on the Avery property.
Making a Murderer Parts 1 and 2 are currently streaming on Netflix.