Elizabeth Entenman
March 16, 2016 11:48 am
Netflix

This just in: There’s been a surprising new twist in the Steven Avery trial. There’s a chance the charred bones found in Avery’s yard—the ones that allegedly belonged to Teresa Halbach—might not actually be hers.

DNA expert Sherry Culhane testified on the matter during Avery’s trial, saying that the partial profile of the bones matched Teresa’s standard. Now, Lynne Blanchard of Stop Wrongful Convictions is calling out the evidence as questionable, and thinks there might be more to the story. Since Culhane only had a partial profile, it cannot be conclusive that the DNA is a perfect match to Teresa’s.

The bone fragments were allegedly found in Avery’s burn pit. Blanchard points out that nobody photographed the collection process—they were just put into boxes and taken away to a crime lab. Technically, the discovery was never documented. In addition, the descriptions of the bones have varied from testimony to testimony.

“Since the scene wasn’t documented, there is no proof that any bones were ever on the Avery property,” Blanchard writes. “As well, the Manitowoc County coroner was forbidden from entering the scene and none of the forensic experts were summoned until after the bones had been removed. We are to simply accept the word of the state witnesses who claimed to see the bones.”

We still don’t know what really happened—sadly, we may never know—but it definitely makes an already poorly-handled case even more fishy. Why wasn’t protocol followed? Where were the forensic anthropologist and the photographer when the evidence was discovered? Many believe that Manitowoc County officials were trying to frame Avery, and this kind of evidence doesn’t help matters.

“The DNA evidence should have been reported more generally as ‘Teresa Halbach can not be excluded as source,’” Blanchard continued. “How is it even possible for tissue to survive a fire that disintegrated 60% of the bone mass? The teeth which are commonly used to identify a body because they outlast bone didn’t even survive the fire. Something’s wrong and it becomes difficult to accept this evidence as presented.”

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