You will never hear the end of tail lights. I will never hear the end of tail lights. I will be shouting “tail lights!” from the roof of every building until we know who killed Teresa Halbach. In all likelihood, her killer won’t be found. Season 2 has thus far convinced me, though, that it might happen. Zellner, who looks significantly less excited than she did in episode 1, might just make this case her 18th post-conviction win. Imagine the relief that would come after years of work on the same case. The message of this episode — and the whole season — is that giving up isn’t an option.
Of course, episode 10 begins with the news that the petition for a new trial has been rejected. Giving up would be awful convenient for everyone involved. Zellner rejects the judge’s ruling on the grounds that the judge just wants the case to “go away.”
“You can’t let it get to you emotionally, don’t you think?” Zellner tells Steven. Earlier, she said she was worried he would run out of air. Goal-oriented as ever, Zellner calls Tom Fallon, the prosecutor on the case who agreed to allow Zellner to test the evidence. Fallon could help her vacate the judge’s decision — excuse my legalese — but he refuses to join her in the motion.
Almost exactly a year ago, Zellner applied to vacate the judge’s decision. She tweeted about it, too, if you want to check the records. The events of the season are encroaching on today’s timeline. Whenever this happens, when the real-life timeline peeks out from behind the show’s curtain, doubt infects the show. Because, again, if Steven were freed, the news media would ensure that everyone knew about it. Would the news media be as artful as Making a Murderer? Definitely not.
Earlier, there was a suggestion that Barb Tadych and Zellner would eventually butt heads. They do, finally, in this episode. Zellner files a motion to reconsider. In this motion, she implicates Scott Tadych and Bobby Dassey. Furious, Barb calls Steven to complain about Zellner — she claims that, if Zellner proceeds with this, he’ll have a dead sister. At this point, Scott turns on Steven Avery, hollering swears over the phone at Steven. This is the call that is supposed to shatter the case. On the call, they both admit that they knew Teresa Halbach left the property on October 31. This led to another admission: Bobby Dassey never saw Halbach walk towards the Steven’s home.
November 17, 2017: A criminal investigator for the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation interviews Bobby Dassey.
“Zellner can blame me all she wants,” Bobby says in the interview. “It sucks that people are trying to pin on me and Scott.”
Undeterred, Zellner takes the case to the Wisconsin appeals court. She also implicates Eisenberg, the forensic anthropologist from the 2007 trial. Eisenberg apparently recorded several bones in her evidence, more than were mentioned at trial. These bones were all found in the Manitowoc County Quarry, the same place where Zellner believes Halbach died. Moreover, these bones aren’t solely from Halbach. Plus, the bones have cut marks, which suggests the body was chopped or sliced — probably by a small saw. In the original trial, Halbach’s body wasn’t believed to have been sliced. In short: Once again, the defense withheld information. The bones, in the original trial, weren’t even that important. They were seen as possibly human. Kratz called it conjecture and put the bones theory to rest. (The bones were a big part of Strang’s case.) Zellner believes them to be human bones, according to the state expert, plus, the bones have been cut.
This is Zellner’s theory: Halbach was killed, burned, and chopped up in the gravel pit in the Manitowoc County, right near where her cell phone records have her at 2:41 p.m. Moreover, Wiegert apparently told the coroner Debra Kakatsch not to come out the scene when the bones were found. Later, Sheriff Peterson told her that, if she did go out to the scene, she would be arrested. Kakatsch testified on behalf of the defense in 2007.
“We’re not trying to just stir up trouble,” Zellner insists. She wants to find out what happened to Halbach.
So do we, but the likelihood of that happening seems very low. Making a Murderer is an exercise in futility, a modern Book of Job. Zellner, Drizin, and Nirider fought as hard as they could against the law’s constraints. Still, they met failure. Three of the seven judges on the seventh circuit sided with Brendan’s team. Steven’s case hasn’t even been reconsidered. Drizin and Nirider are taking the case to the U.S Supreme Court. For the task, they hire Seth Waxman to argue in front of the Court. Waxman is fascinating — he’s a lawyer who has frequently appeared in front of the Supreme Court — but he’s come in at the eleventh hour. (Actually, this is the tenth, if we’re counting.) Waxman wants the case to represent others involving juvenile confessions in general. Unfortunately, this is something a rabid audience already knows has failed. In June, the Supreme Court declined to see Brendan’s case.
So, who is going to make it farther: Nirider/Drizin, or Zellner? Which team will finally get some success?
Zellner just might, but the show has yet to see it. In the final moments of the season, Zellner obtains the Velie CD, 2,400 pages worth of evidence obtained from the Dassey’s computer. The searches attributed to Bobby are abominable; the deeper the show gets into this theory, the more it displays the searches. (I will refrain from writing them here.) It is now attached to Zellner’s case. It is proof that the prosecution withheld evidence. In June, this reaches semi-failure — the case is sent back to the same judge who rejected it earlier.
“Everything’s mobilized against us,” Zellner says, “but it can be done.”
Steven is still in prison, as is Brendan. Making a Murderer will likely have a third season, because it’s not likely Zellner will relent. It’s also not likely Ricciardi and Demos will put down their cameras. The show is tenacious, surprisingly so. Steven is patient, Zellner is aggressive, and the U.S. court system is vastly outdated. Cue the twangy guitar music.
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