01x04 - Indefensible

[Caption: Sheboygan Juvenile Detention Center]

Barb (Brendan's mother): He says to me all the time he didn't do anything. That they more or less told him what to say.

Brendan (on phone): Hey, Mom.

Barb (on phone): What?

Brendan: When do I get another attorney?

Barb: You'll get a different one for Friday.

Brendan: April 10th is WrestleMania.

Barb: Your dad's taping it.

Brendan: Yeah, but I won't get to see it.

Barb: When you come home, you can.

Brendan: Yeah, when's that gonna be? Next year?

Barb: No, we're gonna get you out before then... because you're not guilty, hon.

Brendan: Yeah, I know that.

Steven (on phone): I feel sorry for him. He's only 16 years old, he's only a kid yet. They pressed him so much... he probably don't know which way to go. But it still makes me look bad, though. If I was out there and all of that was happening... I don't know, which side would you want to believe? There ain't nothing good coming out of this.

[thunder rumbles]

[theme music plays]

[geese honking]

announcer: This is NBC 26, live at ten.

male reporter 1: Developing story tonight. Accused killer Brendan Dassey has a new attorney.

male reporter 2: Well, Dassey's new attorney is Len Kachinsky of Neenah. Kachinsky says he accepted the Dassey case knowing it would be his greatest professional challenge.

Kachinsky: We have a 16-year-old who, while morally and legally responsible, was heavily influenced by someone that could only be described as something close to evil incarnate.

male reporter 2: Kachinsky says he may be willing to approach prosecutors about a plea deal in this case, but if the case does go to trial, he'll ask for a jury from western Wisconsin.

female reporter: All right.

male reporter 1: "Evil incarnate." How about that?

female reporter: Strong words.

male reporter 2: That's what he called Steven Avery.

Brendan (on phone): Hey, Mom, my attorney, does he wear glasses?

Barb: I don't know, hon, I've never seen him.

Brendan: I seen him on the TV. Because he's...

Barb: That's a public defender.

Brendan: Yeah.

Barb: His name is Len.

Brendan: Yeah.

Barb: Did he come up by you?

Brendan: No.

Kachinsky: I just came in third in a primary for circuit judge here in Winnebago County. It was kind of a bruising experience, as politics can be. And I got the call from the public defender's office, say about ten days after the primary, to represent Mr. Dassey. Of course, that had been all over the news, uh, and Avery's case of course had been all over the news since about November. I saw Dassey as a young man in trouble... that I think there could be a certain amount of sympathy for. Someone who was influenced by a 43-year-old uncle into doing things he ordinarily... would not do.

female reporter: Did he have anybody with him when he was questioned? Parents or otherwise?

Len Kachinskiy (Brendan's appointed lawyer): Uh, not that I'm aware of, no.

female reporter: Is that common or...?

Kachinskiy: It's quite common for persons to be interrogated or questioned outside the presence of their parents, depending on what the situation is. I suppose in this case, especially with his mother being Steve Avery's sister, they might not have wanted to have her there.

Dean Strang (Steven's defense attorney): When the state arrested and charged Brendan Dassey, it turned some of Steven's family against him... it removed a potential defense witness, and the state turned the public. It finally had a compelling story of a vicious crime. It had a horror story to tell. And the media had twice as many court appearances to cover, you know? Twice as many shots you can do of Averys in jail jumpsuits. The state got three new charges. Something to give it a motive, to explain the crime. Something to up the ante, you know, at trial, because any time the state can add more than one count... particularly if each one of these counts carries an enormous potential prison sentence... the state increases its chances of winning in a very concrete, practical way. Why? Because the defendant, if he's to win in any meaningful way, has to run the board. He has to have the jury come back "not guilty" on everything. For the state to win, it needs to have one charge stick.

[phone line ringing]

woman: Associated Press.

Steven: Hello?

woman: Hello, Steven?

Steven: Yeah?

woman: Hi. Thanks for calling.

Steven: Uh-huh.

woman: First of all, let's start out by telling me how you're doing.

Steven: I could do better if I was out of here. [laughs]

woman: Yeah, I bet.

Steven: You know?

woman: Well, you know, if you... We can just jump right in and if you want to begin by telling me what you think of your nephew's confession?

Steven: Um, he was coerced to say it.

woman: So are you... You said that you think that he was coerced to say those things...

Steven: I know he was. Because there ain't no evidence to back it up. They took everything out of the trailer. They ain't gonna find nothing.

woman: So do you place any blame on your nephew for making those statements?

Steven: With the detectives, it don't take much for a young person to... You know, coerce him to say that stuff.

woman: Would you describe him as smart?

Steven: Brendan?

woman: Mm-hm.

Steven: Um... not really.

reporter:Legal experts believe accused killer Steven Avery may be sending a message to his nephew Brendan Dassey through the media. Avery spoke with the Associated Press in his first interview since Dassey's statement to police. Steven Avery says his nephew Brendan Dassey "isn't very smart" and that Dassey was "coerced" into confessing.

Kachinskiy: I think the meaning of the words "not very smart" is reference to possible consequences to Dassey if he testifies against Avery.

male reporter: Dassey's testimony would be critical if prosecutors hope to convict Steven Avery of rape, kidnapping and false imprisonment. Acts that Brendan Dassey claims he witnessed with his own eyes.

Brendan (on phone): Hello?

Barb (on phone): Hello?

Brendan: Yeah?

Barb: Yeah. You watch the news?

Brendan: About what?

Barb: About you. It says, "Teen's attorney seeks to throw out confession."

Brendan: What's that mean?

Barb: He wants to throw out the statement that they made you say, or whatever.

Brendan: Yeah. They said that my statements were inconsistent. What does uh, "inconsistent" mean?

Barb: I don't know exactly.

Brendan: Maybe they're false or something?

Barb: I don't know.

Brendan: Well, that's what I'm thinking.

Barb: So do you like this attorney?

Brendan: I don't know. I don't know him much.

Barb: Yeah, I know.

Brendan: Just like, well, his favorite animal is the same as mine.

Barb: What's that?

Brendan: A cat.

Barb: Yeah. Pretty soon you'll have two cats.

Brendan: Two cats?

Barb: Mm-hm. Whiskers and Feathers.

Brendan: Oh, yeah.

Barb (laughs): I got 'em for you.

Brendan: Yeah.

Barb: I love you, turkey.

Brendan: Why'd you call me that?

Barb: 'Cause you are my little turkey.

Brendan: I ain't little.

Barb: You're still my baby.

[Caption: On may 12th, Judge Fox will decide whether Brendan's statements to investigators are admissible as evidence.]

Kachinskiy: This case, unlike Steve Avery's case, is gonna rely almost entirely on the confession. The only other evidence they probably would need to get a conviction is just some of the surrounding circumstances about the death of Teresa Halbach. So if the confession is ruled to be admissible, we would have to take a close look at any possible plea-bargaining with the state.

Judge Fox: The defendant Brendan Dassey was, at the time of the police interviews, a student at Mishicot High School, enrolled in mostly regular classes but also in some Special Education classes. Testing had disclosed an IQ level in the low average to borderline range. There is no evidence that he suffered from any emotional disorder which made him unusually susceptible or vulnerable to police pressures. Nothing on the videotape visually depicts Brendan Dassey as being frightened or intimidated by the questions of either investigator. On occasion, the interviewers purported to know details which in fact were not true. The court finds that this tactic of misleading Brendan Dassey was neither improper nor coercive because it did not interfere with Brendan Dassey's power to make rational choices. In short, the statements made by Brendan Dassey to investigators Wiegert and Fassbender were voluntary statements. The defendant's motion to suppress these statements is denied.

Mike Halbach (Teresa's brother): To me, I think if this case goes to trial, you put the tape of his confession in the VCR or DVD player and play it, and, you know, there's our case right there. Um... So, yeah. It's a big victory today for us.

female reporter: Have you seen the confession, Mike?

Mike: I have not, no.

female reporter: Hello, Len.

Kachinskiy: Hi.

female reporter: Here we are for you. [laughs]

Kachinskiy: OK.

female reporter: Everybody good?

man: Good. All set.

Kachinskiy: Yeah.

female reporter: What are your thoughts after today?

Kachinskiy: Well, we're disappointed in, uh... We're... Let's start over. We're disappointed in Judge Fox's ruling. I guess we'll take, uh... You take a case the way the facts come in. And Brendan and I will be discussing the various options we've got in this case sometime next week.

female reporter: But are you anticipating having Brendan testify against Steven Avery?

Kachinskiy: It's always a possibility that he might, any time you've got a situation like this. I guess that's a decision Brendan and I have to talk over next week.

man (O.C.): If there was a plea agreement made, Brendan certainly would be required to testify truthfully against Steve Avery.

Kachinskiy: So we want to look at all the options before making any final decision. This is an extremely important decision that a 16-year-old's gonna have to make. I can give him advice, but ultimately it's his decision.

Kachinskiy: (apparently to O'Kelly) Yep, thanks very much.

It's not a real bombshell...

[Caption: Brendan's lawyer, Len, has made arrangements for his investigator, Michael O'Kelly, to meet with Brendan immediately after Judge Fox's ruling.]

O'Kelly: There's two things I don't know: Are you sorry for what you did, and you promise not to do it again? I know everything else I need to know about this case, except for those two things.

[Caption: Len's investigator, Michael O'Kelly, videotapes his meeting with Brendan on the afternoon of Friday, May 12th.]

Michael O'Kelly (Bredan's lawyer's investigator): So what I want you to do here is make a decision. I want you to read this form. And then we're gonna fill it out.

[Closeup of the Self Interview & Information Survey / My Explanation with Details with two check boxes, one for "I'm sorry" and one for "I'm not sorry" at the top and goes on to say, "If you are truly sorry for what happened please explain why you are sorry for what you did," and continues with "I promise I will never do this again," and a place to sign it. Brendan pauses a long time.]

O'Kelly: Are you sorry?

Brendan: I don't know. Because I didn't do any...

O'Kelly: If you're... Brendan, if you're not... Look at me. If you're not sorry, I can't help you. What I don't want you to do is spend the rest of your life in prison. Can you look at me? Do you want to spend the rest of your life in prison? OK. You did a very bad thing.

Brendan: Yeah, but I was only there for the fire, though.

O'Kelly: Brendan, you haven't told me the truth yet. And what I don't want you to do right now is tell me any more lies. So you gotta make a decision before you start writing anything. You're gonna write the complete truth, no matter what the truth is.

[Close up of the filled out form with Brendan's signature and explanation. The form appears to have double spaces in odd places and missing capital letters. For example: at around 16:35 in Series 1, Episode 4, where this form is shown, we see the text "I [Brendan's signature] am now finally willing to tell you the real truth and will do what is right. I will explain what & why this happened [double or triple space] this [exactly as transcribed, lower case 'T'] is now my explanation with all my details."]

Text of page 1 of Brendan's confession:
"I went to school on that day and got home at 3:45 and went to my mom's house and went into the house to play playstation until 5:00 pm till my mom came home then i called my freind at 5:30 pm. I watched tv. till 6:00 and got a phone call at that time from blaine's boss. I told him that blaine went trick or treating with his friend. then at 7:00 pm I got a phone call at 7:00 pm from Steven and aSked me to come over to the bombfire that night."

[Long pause, Brendan is now looking at the second sheet which is apparently also filled out.]

O'Kelly: Is there anything missing from this statement here?

Brendan: No.

O'Kelly: You missed... Is Teresa in that statement?

Brendan: No.

O'Kelly: Then it's missing. Then it's not a truthful statement. Would you do this again?

Brendan: (shakes head)

O'Kelly: Why not?

Brendan: 'Cause I didn't do nothing.

O'Kelly: Well, that's not true.

Brendan: I was only there for the fire.

O'Kelly: I wish that was true.

Brendan: It is.

O'Kelly: You were also in the mobile home.

Brendan: Not that day, though.

O'Kelly: Just so you're perfectly clear... I want you to testify against Steven Avery and tell the truth. And this is how I can help you. But I can't help you with those words that you wrote down. Those words, I can't help you at all.

[Closeup of second page of Brendan's confession is at 18:28 in series 1, episode 4.]

Text of page 2 of Brendan's confession:
"Then I helped him pick up the yard and picked up a van seat, wood, a cabinet, and some tires then we threw them on the fire and we waited for the fire to go down and then go a phone call at 9:00 - 9:30 and it was my mom and told steven that i was to be home at 10:00 pm. and I was home at that time. Then I talked to my mom and then went to bed."

O'Kelly: Why don't you draw another picture over here of him stabbing her?

O'Kelly: Why don't you draw a picture down here... of you having s*x with her there.

O'Kelly: OK, why don't you do this... Why don't you draw a picture of the bed and how she was tied down. But draw it big-sized so we can see it.

[Closeup of the picture Brendan drew is at 19:30 of series 1, episode 4. Rope tying her arms is labeled and chain fastening her legs is also labeled. The ropes and chains are several times the lengths of her arms or legs.]

O'Kelly: (shaking Bredan's hand) Thanks very much. You're doing the right thing.

female guard: Turn around. (Fastens shackles around Brendan's waist)

O'Kelly: Hi, Len? Hi, Len, this is Mike O'Kelly. I'm with Brendan right now. Oh, quite well. Quite well. Very well. He's given a detailed statement. Would you like me to call Special Agent Fassbender and have him interview Brendan at this time?

[sound of handcuffs tightening]

[Outside shot of the facility at night showing dark windows and a bright spotlight.]

O'Kelly: Yes, this is Michael O'Kelly calling for Special Agent Fassbender. Hi there. Hi there, I'm inside the Sheboygan County jail facility, and Brendan would like to visit with you folks. So he said you can come by tomorrow morning after breakfast. He has also prepared a document for me. And it will be up to you if you want a copy or not.

Fassbender: OK, Brendan. I was told by your attorney, Mr. Len Kachinsky, that you wanted to speak with us. Mark and I came out here today, you know, Saturday morning, because we wanted to give you that chance. We've had an opportunity to look at the evidence in the case and even your last statement, there's some areas that you may want to address because they don't seem to, you know, necessarily add up.

[Caption: May 13, 2006, interrogation conducted by investigators Mark Wiegert and Tom Fassbender]

[Time in the video taken by the camera in the interrogation room shows 5-13-06 SAT / 8:51 AM.]

Tom Fassbender (Special Agent, DCI): Do you understand that?

Brendan: Mm-hm.

[Time in the police video shows 9:48 am]

Fassbender: Did you cut her hair off?

Brendan: Yeah.

Fassbender: Where did that happen?

Brendan: In the... In the... bedroom.

Fassbender: What'd you cut the hair off with?

Brendan: The knife.

Fassbender: The knife you guys found in the garage? Doesn't make sense.

Wiegert: That's impossible.

Fassbender: You took her out to the garage and that's when you got the knife. Explain how that can be. Did you cut her hair off?

Brendan: No.

Fassbender: Then why did you just tell us you did? Brendan?

Brendan: I don't know.

Wiegert: Why did you ask us to come here? So you could lie to us? What do you think your mom would say if she knew you were sitting here lying to me?

[Time shown in the police camera footage is now 9:50 am.]

Brendan: I don't know.

Mark Wiegert (Manitowoc Sheriff's Dept. investigator): You think she'd be OK with that? And when I walk out this door right now and I go call your mom and tell her that you've been lying to me... what do you think she's gonna say?

[Caption: Over the course of 3-1/2 hours, Mark and Tom obtain another confession from Brendan. Brendan's lawyer, Len Kachinsky, is not present.]

Fassbender: Mark mentioned talking to your mom about this and being truthful with her now. OK? If you're truly sorry, you'll tell your mother the truth about this, OK?

Wiegert: Are you gonna do that?

Brendan: Yeah.

Wiegert: When are you gonna do that?

Brendan: Tonight.

Wiegert: OK. Probably be a good idea, before we tell her.

[phone line ringing]

Barb: Hello?

recorded voice: Hello. This is a collect call from...

Brendan: Brendan.

Barb: Hello?

Brendan: Yeah?

Barb: Yeah?

Brendan: Did you talk to anybody?

Barb: What do you mean "talk to anybody"?

Brendan: 'Cause, um, Mark and, uh... Fassbender are gonna talk to you.

Barb: About what?

Brendan: About, well...

Barb: Huh?

Brendan: About the case.

Barb: What do you mean?

Brendan: Well...

Barb: I haven't talked to nobody. I told you, nobody calls me and lets me know nothing.

Brendan: Yeah?

Barb: Yeah.

Brendan: Yeah, but you might feel bad with... if I say it today.

Barb: Huh?

Brendan: About what all happened.

Barb: Huh?

Brendan: About what all happened.

Barb: What all happened? What are you talking about?

Brendan: About what me and Steven did that day.

Barb: So Steven did do it?

Brendan: Yeah.

Barb: Oh, he makes me so sick.

Brendan: I don't even know how I'm gonna do it in court, though.

Barb: What do you mean?

Brendan: I ain't gonna face him.

Barb: Face who?

Brendan: Steven.

Barb: You know what, Brendan?

Brendan: What?

Barb: He did it. You do what you gotta do. So in those statements, you did all that to her too?

Brendan: Some of it.

Barb: But what about when I got home at five, you were here.

Brendan: Yeah.

Barb: Yeah. When did you go over there?

Brendan: Well, I went over earlier and then came home before you did.

Barb: Why didn't you say something to me then?

Brendan: I don't know, I was too scared.

Barb: You wouldn't have had to been scared because I would've called 911 and you wouldn't have been going back over there. Maybe she would've been alive yet.

[Jodi is on the phone inside the mobile home, pretty well cleaned up now.]

Jodi Stachowski (Steven's fiancee): Did Brendan tell you this today?

Jodi: Really?

Jodi: Yeah.

Jodi: Hm...

Jodi: Well, give me a call tomorrow. OK?

Jodi: All right. You hang in there.

Jodi: (to the documentary team) Steven just buried her son. Those were her words, Barbara's words. I don't know.

Dolores Avery (Steven's mother): (to the documentary team) I tell her they're innocent and she don't believe me. No matter what I can say. She did before, and now the cops did this again and now she don't believe 'em again.

Allan Avery (Steven's father): I don't think... To be honest with you, I don't think the boy's got a prayer in hell. Really.

announcer: Dateline Saturday. A young woman vanishes. Does her disappearance have a mysterious link to a terrifying crime 20 years before?

Dateline NBC Producer:This is the perfect Dateline story. It's a story with a twist, it grabs people's attention. Here's a man who was found innocent, you know, after 18 years in prison. And now, oh, my gosh, he could be back in jail for a crime he really did commit. Right now, murder is hot. That's what everyone wants. That's what the competition wants and we're trying to beat out the other networks to get that perfect murder story.

[no audible dialogue, images of reporters and talk show hosts talking]

Steven (on phone): They can't go a couple days without putting my name on the TV. How you gonna get a fair trial? They say it'll all die down. Well, it can't die down if it's always on TV. Brendan goes up, they always talk about me. They're saying I'm guilty before I even go to trial. Where's the justice?

Jodi: I'm looking at the phone bill from October 31st. I called Steven at 5:36. Supposedly when all... this... murder or whatever was supposedly happening. And we talked for 15 minutes, and... the conversation was normal. He didn't sound rushed or like he was doing anything. And if he was in the middle of doing something, we wouldn't have talked for 15 minutes.

[Caption: At 5:36 p.m. on the day of the alleged rape and murder, Jodi called Steven from the Manitowoc County Jail, where she was serving time for a DUI. All calls from the jail are recorded.]

( Recorded at the jail )

Steven (home): That's all I want is you. And I'll wait.

Jodi (jail): ou f*ckin' better.

Steven (home): I will.

Jodi: Then I called back at 8:57. Everything was normal then, too. He was getting ready... I think he was in bed. And if he was hiding something or if he would've done something, I could hear it in his voice. And that was all fine.

[Caption: Jodi called back at 8:57 on the day of the alleged rape and murder.]

( Recorded at the jail )

Jodi (jail): Until I see you on your knee...

Steven (home): Well I might have to ask you right at home here.

Jodi (jail): I told you, I don't care as long as it's romantic.

Steven (home): Uh huh, romantic?

Jodi (jail): Put rose petals on the bed, in the bathtub. Romantic.

Steven (home): (mockingly) Romantic.

Jodi (jail): Dinner.

Steven (home): Romantic?

Jodi (jail): Can't have a glass of wine so it will have to be...

Steven (home): Soda.

Jodi (jail): Kiddie cocktail.

Steven (home): Ooooh! Well, I love you.

Jodi (jail): I love you too.

Steven (home): I got your pictures all over the place.

Jodi (jail): Really?

Steven (home): Yeah.

Jodi (jail): Don't forget to kiss 'em.

Steven (home): Kiss 'em, feel 'em.

Jodi (jail): Sweet dreams.

Steven (home): Yeah, you too.

Jodi (jail): Dream with me.

Steven (home): Yeah, I do.

Allan Avery: That day, when that woman come to take those pictures, we all knew it. Everybody knew. Stevie says, "I gotta be home at a certain time." He's got... "That gal's coming to take a picture of the car." You telling me a man's gonna tell somebody something like that and then kill her? I don't think so.

Pete Baetz (Steven's lawyers' investigator, Lieutenant-Deputy Sheriff, 1970-1996): I've been in law enforcement of one type and in one position or another for the last 40 years. I have never, ever witnessed a search like was done in this case. You don't just obtain a warrant and that gives you the property for as long as you want. It's the most unprofessional mess I've ever seen. They took over that property for lengths of time that gave the opportunity for evidence to be fooled around with. Jesus, you don't go into a place and search it 18 times and keep looking for something unless... The only reason you go in a second time is because you believe you missed it the first time. Once a place is cleared, it's normally released back to the person.

Pete Baetz: The key was worthless, as far as I was concerned, as evidence, because of the number of searches. Now this is a key that was used by her for several years, and they took the key and meticulously scrubbed it for DNA and that was, at first glance, a good thing. But they came up and represented that the only DNA found on that key was Steven Avery's. That is patently ridiculous. Any crevices, anything else in that key would have retained her DNA. And for them to be able to say "only Steven's DNA is on this" indicates to me that that key was scrubbed clean and his DNA was placed on it.

Jerry Buting (Steven's civil rights lawyer): Some might think, "Well, you know, we... Our hands were tied." You know? That you got a client who's saying that he's being framed. Publicly, that's kind of the defense you'd better go with or you're contradicting your own client. But it really wasn't that way here. It... The defense was raised because we think the evidence pointed that way.

Jerry Buting: Here's what we saw. The RAV4, the victim's RAV4 is found on the Avery Salvage Yard property. A ridiculous place to leave it if he was the killer. There's a crusher on the property. He knows how to use the crusher. He was operating the crusher the day before it was found. And yet this vehicle wasn't crushed. Why not? I mean, that's something that most killers don't have the opportunity to do. You know? If you're a killer and you happen to run an auto salvage, you have a crusher, you can get rid of the victim's car. But he didn't. Second, his blood was found inside the vehicle, but only in a few areas. Spots, so to speak. There was evidence that he had a cut on his finger, but what didn't make sense was that there was no fingerprints of Avery's at all, in or on the vehicle. That would mean, if Avery was the killer, he had to have had gloves. But if he's got gloves on, how could he be actively bleeding and leaving his blood behind? That was totally inconsistent. So it looked to us like maybe his argument that, "If my blood is in that vehicle, somebody planted it there," maybe the evidence was pointing that way.

male reporter: We've heard it since he was charged with murdering Teresa Halbach more than six months ago.

female reporter: Steven Avery and members of his family say police in Manitowoc County have it out for him.

male reporter: The sheriff says the conspiracy theories are ridiculous.

female reporter: Tonight, we look into if framing is really a viable defense in this high profile murder case. Fox 11's Lauren Cook has the final part of her series, "The Avery's: An Inside Look."

Cook (reporter): Avery's family believes police planted evidence in and around the salvage yard.

Ken Peterson (Sheriff, Manitowoc): They're free to say what they want. The fact is they have to prove it. And I don't think they could.

Cook: Sheriff Ken Petersen says his detectives worked by the book. He's been here 31 years and says he knows the Averys and what he calls "Steven's colorful past."

Cook: You say he'll kill again. Why do you say that?

Sheriff Peterson: I think that's his personality.

Cook: And Petersen says framing Steven Avery would be much too difficult.

Peterson: If we wanted to, um... eliminate Steve, it would've been a whole lot easier to eliminate Steve than it would be to frame Steve. Hell... But...

Cook: What do you mean by "eliminate"?

Sheriff Peterson: If we wanted him out of the picture, like in prison, or if you wanted him killed, you know, it would've been much easier just to kill him.

Cook: In the meantime...

Strang: This is insane. This is absolutely insane.

reporter heard on Strang's laptop ...from Mishicot High School. He's in a juvenile detention center in Sheboygan. Brooke and Tom?

Milbourn (on laptop): Lauren, thank you very much. Still ahead for us tonight...

Strang: I... You know, where do you... where do you start? [laughing] With digging through the levels of this thing, any of this.

Jodi: Yep.

Strang: It's, um... It's fascinating.

Barb on phone: I need to know the truth.

Brendan: Yeah?

Barb: Yeah.

Brendan: Well, you know I'm telling you the truth that it's not true.

Barb: Then why say it?

Brendan: That was when they came up here, remember?

Barb: Yeah. On that Saturday.

Brendan: Yeah. They said that they knew already what happened. That they wanted me to... They just wanted it coming out of my mouth.

Barb: Brendan, you don't just come up with something like that if something like that didn't happen. Or is it true, that he did kill her?

Brendan: Not that I know of, I told you. He might've but not... not with me.

Barb: So you're honestly telling me the truth?

Brendan: Yeah.

Barb: You didn't have nothing to do with this.

Brendan: No.

Barb: Don't lie to me, Brendan.

Brendan: I ain't.

Barb: But what I can't figure out is why you said all this sh1t if it's not true? And how you came up with it?

Brendan: Guessing.

Barb: What do you mean, "guessing"?

Brendan: I guessed.

Barb: You don't guess with something like that, Brendan.

Brendan: Well, that's what I do with my homework, too.

Barb: Yeah, I know.

Brendan: Well, I do...

Barb: This is what put... No. The statement you made is what put you in there.

Brendan: Yeah.

Barb: And now you're gonna have to get... so everybody out there... you'll have to get them to... [gasps, sighs] You're... You're not... You're gonna go to prison.

Brendan: Yeah?

Barb: Yeah. For the rest of your life. For something that's not even true.

Brendan: Yeah.

Barb: Is that what you wanted?

Brendan: No.

Barb: Well, how you gonna turn everything around now?

Brendan: I don't know.

Barb: Well, you better just start putting your head on your shoulders, and start thinking.

Brendan: How can I? I'm really stupid, Mom. I can't help it.

Barb: Why do you agree to everything then?

Brendan: 'Cause I'm stupid, I told you.

Barb: You're not stupid to me.

Brendan: Yeah, I am.

Barb: No, you're not.

[In the mobile home, talking to the documentary team.]

Jodi: For me, it's really, really hard. I want to drink. All the time. It's confusing, it's frustrating. 'Cause there's not much I can do to prove that he didn't do it or that Brendan didn't do it. And I want to do... You know, get 'em out so that they can prove they didn't do it. But it's just... nerve-wracking. It was nice to be down here alone 'cause I could think. And then I had a couple beers and... It just made me not... So I wasn't so angry. If I'm caught, I'd go to jail.

[Caption: Nine days later, Jodi is caught drinking and spends 5 nights in jail. Her probation officer gives her two weeks to move away from the Avery property and issues a "no contact" order, prohibiting her from visiting or talking to Steven.]

Jodi: They told me, "Get a job and move." I moved and got a job. I'm working. I'm doing everything they told me to. My lawyer was supposed to talk to my probation officer on Monday about having this "no contact" lifted. I just think they're doing it... thinking that, well, I'll get sick of it and just leave him for my own... I don't know. 'Cause it'd be better for me if I didn't talk to him and got him out of my life. Is what I think they think. But it ain't gonna happen.

Steven (on phone): Anything to screw with me, they do. I don't see how they can keep me from Jodi. You know, that's just this detective, though. Going to her probation officer and telling her what to do. You know, that shouldn't be. That's just another thing that they got control of. You know, I don't want to lose Jodi.

Jodi: I just keep thinking, "Just wish I could talk to him." Just tell him I love him. "See, I'm still here. I ain't going nowhere."

Allan Avery: (searching through old yellowed newspapers and things) I think I got it. In this one. Yeah. 1982. Right there. I remember him. And him. Oh, here he is. Kenny Petersen. I didn't like the statement he made, either. That's a hell of a thing for a sheriff to say. He said that right on TV.

[In court]

Strang: Defense calls Sheriff Kenneth Petersen.

[Caption: The Defense brings pre-trial motion to exclude Maitowoc County Sheriff's Depeartment from any involvement in Steven's trial.]

Strang: In 1985, you were requested by the then-sheriff of Manitowoc County, Tom Kocourek to arrest Mr. Avery on a charge of attempted murder.

Peterson: Yes.

Strang: And that involved a violent assault on a beach here in Manitowoc County?

Peterson: Correct.

Strang: Later, the claim that Mr. Avery had made that he was innocent of those crimes proved to be true.

Petersen: Possibly.

Strang: I'm sorry?

Peterson: I would have doubt.

Strang: You have doubts about that?

Peterson: Yes.

Strang: Uh, I want to be clear. One of the reasons you disengaged personally from the Halbach investigation is that you personally had sat for a deposition in Steven Avery's civil claim against Manitowoc County.

Peterson: No, I don't think that had anything to do with that decision. No.

Strang: Let's break this down. You had your deposition taken on October 13, 2005. Does that sound right?

Peterson: It's possible.

Strang: About two and a half, three weeks before Ms. Halbach disappeared?

Peterson: Somewhere in that time frame.

Strang: And the other two members of your department who had their depositions taken about the same time were Lieutenant Lenk and Sergeant Andrew Colborn, correct?

Peterson: I don't know. I don't know who gave depositions.

Strang: You don't disagree that they both sat for depositions in that lawsuit in mid-October, 2005, you just don't know?

Peterson: As I recall, that had something to do with some information that came somewhere in the late '90s.

Strang: Mid-1990s, that's right.

Peterson: Yeah, that's... Yeah, but I don't know when they were deposed. I wouldn't have a clue.

Strang: You know, in your life, have you ever spent a day or a night in jail for a crime you didn't commit?

Peterson: No.

Strang: If you were in Steven Avery's chair and you were in his shoes, so to speak, would you trust the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Department in the investigation and prosecution of yourself a second time?

male lawyer: Objection. Speculation.

Strang: I'm not asking you to speculate at all.

male lawyer: Relevance then.

Judge Willis: I'm gonna sustain the objection. Any further questions?

Strang: No.

Judge Willis: All right, the witness is excused.

Strang: If I may, Your Honor, we will not find another case in which the sheriff opines not just that the defendant is guilty of the charged offense, but opines that if he's acquitted somehow, he'll murder someone else in the future. On what possible basis? I have no idea. This was really remarkable. Before we even get to the bizarre discussion of how it might have been easier to kill Steven Avery than to frame him. Off the charts.

[Caption: Judge Willis excludes the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Department from any involvement in Steven's upcoming trial. The trial will be held in neighboring Calumet County.]

Kachinskiy: (in his office) My impression is Brendan's sort of intimidated by his mother. Uh, she's... you know, relatively, in terms of physical stature, rather petite, but, uh... has the... sometimes the attitude of a pit bull. [laughs] Uh, she's very, you know... What she doesn't have in physical size she can make up with her bark.

Barb (at home on phone): Hello?

Brendan (on phone): Yeah?

Barb: Yeah.

Brendan: Did you call my attorney this morning?

Barb: I tried to get a hold of him. But he won't return my phone calls.

Brendan: He gave me this piece of paper about me pleading or something.

Barb: Huh?

Brendan: About me pleading guilty or something.

Barb: For you to plead guilty?

Brendan: Yeah.

Barb: Brendan?

Brendan: What?

Barb: That's what he gave you?

Brendan: Well, he... he said that... if I choose the plea thing, that's what I...

Barb: You can't. You can't. If you take that plea bargain, Brendan, you're saying you're guilty.

Brendan: But if... if I go to trial and that, he said it's gonna be hard for the jury, you know, to believe me if I tell the real, true story.

Barb: Your attorney believes you did it.

Brendan: Yeah?

Barb: Yeah. He wants to put you away, Brendan.

Brendan: I don't want to stay in here until I'm 76 or whatever.

Barb: I know. I know. I don't know what to tell you, Brendan. If you didn't do it, you need to take it to court. You need to take it to trial.

Brendan: I didn't, though. Yeah.

Allan Avery: Why would his lawyer tell him he's guilty? Take a plea bargain? That ain't no lawyer, far as I'm concerned. A lawyer is supposed to work for you.

female reporter: So you would say Steven Avery is masterminding your dismissal basically or your substitution?

man: I think that's his desire, yes.

Barb: I'm getting rid of Len for the simple reason is because he's not helping my son. I'm not doing it because of Steven. Steven's got a good attorney. Brendan don't. Brendan needs somebody like what Steven's got. I'm not saying Steven did anything wrong. I believe he's innocent too.

[In court]

Judge Fox: Are you requesting that your current counsel be replaced by someone else?

Brendan: Yeah.

Judge Fox:Mr. Kachinsky, do you believe that this request is his free and unfettered choice?

Kachinsky: Um, I'm not sure about that, Your Honor. I have received information that there has been an ongoing campaign by Mr. Dassey's co-defendant to encourage him to obtain new counsel that might be more to his co-defendant's... liking.

Judge Fox: Mr. Dassey, how do you get along with Mr. Kachinsky?

Brendan: Not bad.

Judge Fox: Does "not bad" mean good or what?

Brendan: Yeah.

Judge Fox: Do you guys fight when you're together?

Brendan: No.

Judge Fox: Can you talk with him?

Brendan: Yeah.

Judge Fox: Do you think he's doing what he believes to be in your best interest?

Brendan: Sort of.

[Judge Fox sighs]

Judge Fox: Tell me why you want to change lawyers at this point.

Brendan: 'Cause I think he... that he... I think he... No, he... That I think he thinks I'm guilty.

Judge Fox: And that's the reason that you want to get a different lawyer?

Brendan: Yeah.

Judge Fox: I don't see or hear anything that tells me that there is an irreconcilable conflict or difference. There certainly isn't, I don't believe, any breakdown, complete or otherwise, in communication. Accordingly, I'm going to deny Mr. Dassey's motion to substitute someone for Mr. Kachinsky as his counsel.

Barb: Bunch of dirty bastards.

male reporter: Dean Strang, Steven Avery's attorney, said and I quote, "Steven Avery is not orchestrating a campaign to get rid of Brendan Dassey's lawyer. My own sense is that the whole Dassey and Avery family is hoping that the current lawyer, or some lawyer, simply will defend Brendan Dassey."

[Caption: Jodi is taken to the Manitowoc County Jail and held for allegedly violating the no contact order.]

Steven (on phone): Investigators were after her since day one, almost. How many times did they go after her? They pushed and pushed and pushed.

[Caption: Aug 31, 2006, Interview conducted by investigator Mark Wiegert]

Wiegert: All right. So when did you get put in?

Jodi: Tuesday.

Wiegert: Tuesday.

Jodi: He had court. I had to come to town too and we passed him.

Wiegert: Mm-hm. It's just contact, which you're not supposed to have.

Jodi: I'm trying not to. I don't want... I'm sick of this place.

Wiegert: I don't...

Jodi: I got a good job and I don't want to lose it.

Wiegert: That's good. Let's get you outta here. So you're gonna call your P.O. today, too?

Jodi: Well, they told me I had to go see her.

[Caption: Between June and August of 2006 Jodi is arrested 3 times.]

[phone line rings]

Chuck (Steven's brother, on phone): Hello?

Steven: What did Jodi all say to you?

Chuck: She said you and her were done.

Steven: So they'd stop screwing with her.

Chuck: Yeah, that's what she says.

Steven: So there ain't no me and her no more? So I might as well give it up then. The only thing I was hanging on to was her. That was the only thing keeping me together.

Chuck: I understand that. There's more fish in the sea, too, though.

Steven: I don't want nobody else. I wanted to get married. I got nothing now.

[Newspaper headline: Halbach Case: Dassey changes his story, denies involvement. Accused killer writes letter to judge, contradicts his previous statements.]

Kachinsky: Needless to say, it was a surprise to me when the letter got written. Essentially this is an alibi saying, you know, "I wasn't there when the homicide took place. I was at home." It says "Hello, I was going to write to you a while back, but I didn't have a pencil. The truth is, me and my brother Blaine came home from school at 3:45, walked down the road..." And he played PlayStation until his mom came home between 5:00 and 5:30. Then he claims he got a call at 6:00 from Blaine's boss. Told him that Blaine went trick-or-treating, watched more TV until 7:00 when he got a call from Steve Avery. And then... Which he characterizes as an invitation to go to the bonfire. And then they drove the golf cart around his mother's yard to find garbage and put a bunch of junk in the fire that night. And that's... Says that's basically what happened. "I went home, went to bed, got some sleep." Barb Janda's admitted that she's the one that, you know, encouraged Brendan to write the letter. Why she did that, I don't know. It just seems... dumb. What is understandable is that if Brendan was gonna be a witness at Steve Avery's trial, each and every statement he gave that was inconsistent with what he told the police on March one or on May 13th, um... would be beneficial to Steve Avery. So I think she probably knows that. "P.S. Me and my mom think you are a good judge. Thank you for your time." [chuckles] That's contained in the letter.

Strang: (driving) He's a learning-disabled 16-year-old... who's... not equipped to... face the trouble in which he finds himself and isn't getting much help. In my view. It's just... Whatever his personal failings here, there have been a series of systemic failings that are... deeply troubling if you... think about them too much or... take them personally. You know, I'm not sure that I'm... doing fully what I should be doing when I'm worrying about... whether other people who are not in my charge are... um... being ground up and spit out by this system. Or being treated unjustly. I need to worry about whether Steven is, sort of single-mindedly about that, I think, in some... in some way.

[bell dings]

[buzzer sounds]

man: Yes, can we help you?

Strang: Hi. Here to see Steven Avery.

man: OK, just have a seat, please...

Strang: Thanks.

[Caption: In late summer, Judge Fox learns that Len allowed Brendan to be interrogated alone on May 13th.]

[Newspaper headline: Judge Dismisses Dassey's Attorney]

male reporter: Got a second?

Kachinskiy: Sure.

male reporter: Is it on?

female reporter: Come on.

male reporter: Do you feel he's had adequate representation to this point?

Kachinskiy: I think he has, yes. I think, uh, the steps we took were reasonable. I respectfully disagree with the judge.

male reporter: Yet you're still saying it wasn't a mistake to let him be interviewed with just your investigator. You'd do that over again?

Kachinskiy: Oh, I wouldn't do it over again because... because of all this. [laughs] But the, uh... I think in the final analysis, the issue of the May 13th statement probably will never come up in Brendan's case again. The state most likely is not gonna use it.

female reporter: Thanks, Len.

[Caption: Seven's trial is scheduled to being February 12th, 2007.]

Steven on phone (in December): It's hard. You know, I'm in here by myself. I can't talk to nobody. I can't even talk to the lawyer over the phone, it's being recorded. At least this lawyer is good and he's doing his job and... he's trying to figure out... who did this and everything else. I don't know how he's gonna do it, but I guess he's pretty smart so he'll know what to do.

Buting: Sheriff Petersen was the arresting officer of Avery in 1985. He's now the head of that office, and clearly... clearly has a strong dislike for Avery. If the very top guy has this kind of attitude about Avery and that kind of personal involvement in the case of Avery, that's gonna permeate the department, the whole department. If not, at least it's going to permeate the upper echelon that's close to him. And that would include the lieutenants and the sergeants. So we looked around and one guy's name just kept coming up over and over and over every place we looked. At critical moments. And that was Lieutenant James Lenk. Lenk is the guy who finds the key in the bedroom on the seventh entry, supposedly in plain view. Lenk is deposed just three weeks before this Halbach disappearance. And then, most peculiar of all, is when we looked in Steven's old 1985 case file in the clerk's office. Some items from that court file ultimately proved to exonerate Steven. Interestingly enough, the transmittal form that goes with the evidence in 2002 to the crime lab is filled out by none other than, at that time, Detective Sergeant James Lenk. And I said to myself, "Whoa. This is starting to sound more than just coincidental."

[Looking at a box sealed with red tape labeled "EVIDENCE".]

man: Um... No, I thought there was a big box.

Buting: I thought it was gonna be in the big box, too. I didn't...

Wiegert: My understanding is that is it. The other items were fingernail scrapings and hair.

Buting: This is Jerry Buting. Is Dean available?

man: OK, there's the date. 3-13-96.

Buting: On the red tape or... Yeah.

man: Yeah. But we don't know who put this piece of Scotch tape over this.

Buting: Right. No, I don't want to leave a... This is very important I talk to him. Can you see if somebody can hunt him down?

[Caption: Steven's defense team obtains a court order to examine the contents of Steven's 1985 case file. Investiigator Mark Wiegert and Special Prosecutor Norm Gahn are also present.]

man: OK?

Buting: Bring it out.

Buting: Want to spin it around? It looks like it's cut through, doesn't it?

[Back at the office]

Buting (on phone): Let me tell you. This is a red-letter day for the defense. It could not have been better. The seal was clearly broken on the outside of the box and inside the box is a Styrofoam kit. The seal is broken in that. We pulled the Styrofoam halves apart and there, in all of its glory, was a test tube that said "Steven Avery," inmate number, everything on it. The blood is liquid. And get this. Right in the center of the top of the tube is a little tiny hole. Just about the size of a hypodermic needle. Yes. And I spoke with a LabCorp person already who told me they don't do that. [laughs] You can... Have you fallen on the floor yet or no? Think about it, Dean. If LabCorp didn't stick the needle through the top, then who did? Some officer went into that file, opened it up, took a sample of Steven Avery's blood and planted it in the RAV4. Yeah, he knows where we're going.

Strang (on phone, O.C.): Game on.

Buting: Game on, exactly. Game on.

[theme music plays]