My wife and I made the mistake of getting hooked on the Netflix series, Making A Murderer, this weekend. Never watch sausage being made, and never take a look inside what the police do to make a case. It will ruin your trust in the system.
There were a couple of things that just infuriated me.
- There were two clear cases of scientific dishonesty that ought to have simply been thrown out, or never even been presented to the jury.
- They tested a bullet for blood, and announced that it was from the victim. But the lab tech also disclosed that the negative control was contaminated! My jaw dropped at that. You don’t get to make that claim when your test was invalidated by error.
- To disprove that the accused’s blood at the crime scene was not planted from a sample in police custody, they declared that the FBI, using a new test, had found no preservatives in the blood, therefore the sample couldn’t have been planted. Again, you can’t do that. What were the limits of detection? The best you can do is say that the test failed, and without a lot of evaluation of the samples and the procedure, you can’t state how likely their answer was.
One of the prosecutor’s tools was this horrifically detailed story of the murder, which they claim to have gotten from a confession by the accused’s nephew. But we have the recording of the “confession”, and it’s appalling. The nephew is this lost, confused, slow-witted teenager, and the police lead him through the story. He didn’t provide any of the purported details. They did.
The prosecutors didn’t exhibit a speck of shame at going on and on about knifings and stranglings and shooting and torture, with the only evidence being a fable fed to a not very bright kid. Is that a general character trait of prosecutors? I wouldn’t know.
Just to counterbalance the dismaying unprofessionalism, incompetence, and corruption of the police, though, I have to say I hope that if ever I’m accused of a crime, I want the defense attorneys, Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, on my side. They, at least, seemed to be well aware of the inconsistencies and falsehoods in the prosecution’s case. I don’t know whether the prosecutors weren’t very bright or were just doing their job to paper over the failings of their arguments.
I don’t know whether it’s the charitable assumption to guess that the prosecutors just didn’t care about the truth.
It’s also a shame because the victim was murdered, and my impression is that the Manitowoc police were more interested in pinning the blame on the accused than in actually figuring out what happened.