Manitowoc Deputies are Crooked Feb 20, 2007 13:23:30 GMT -5
Post by WaTcHeR on Feb 20, 2007 13:23:30 GMT -5
CHILTON — The Calumet County sheriff’s deputy charged with keeping watch over the Manitowoc County officers searching Steven Avery’s trailer in 2005 said this morning he did the best he could to watch their every move.
But Sgt. William Tyson admitted he wasn’t perfect.
“I cannot sit up here and look at you guys and tell you that (during) three hours inside that residence that I didn’t turn my back, walk away, glance away,” Tyson testified today.
“So I can’t say that every second of that close to three hours I was making direct eye contact with them and watching every move they made.”
Avery, 44, is accused of killing photographer Teresa Halbach on Oct. 31, 2005, and burning her body to hide the crime. Halbach’s Toyota Rav-4 was found on Avery’s property and her charred remains were discovered in a burn pit near Avery’s trailer.
Avery’s defense has accused Manitowoc County sheriff’s Lt. James Lenk and Sgt. Andrew Colborn of planting evidence. Lenk and Colborn were on the search team with Tyson in Avery’s trailer on Nov. 5, the day Halbach’s Toyota was found on Avery’s property.
Avery served 18 years in prison for a 1985 rape but was exonerated in 2003 by DNA analysis.
Avery sued Manitowoc County, its sheriff’s department and a handful of officials for $36 million in damages for the wrongful conviction, and that was the motivation for a “frame-up” attempt, defense attorneys say. The suit has settled for $400,000.
Tyson told defense attorney Jerome Buting that he had no issues with the way the Manitowoc County officers conducted themselves.
“I did not treat these guys like I did not trust them,” Tyson said. “I did not treat this like I was baby-sitting.
“I watched them to the best of my ability in those three hours.”
When Buting asked if it would have been hard for any of the Manitowoc deputies to plant evidence, Tyson replied: “I believe it would have been difficult.”
Testimony in the Avery trial resumed today with Avery’s lawyers taking their turn interrogating Tyson, who handled much of the evidence seized at the Avery family property where Steven Avery lived in 2005.
Prosecutors also questioned Tyson on Monday afternoon.
Buting asked Tyson if he had any concerns about or input into the people he was assigned to work with searching the Avery property in the days following the discovery of Halbach’s car.
“I had no concerns with their abilities,” Tyson said. “I trusted the decisions being made at the command center.”
Tyson was the 24th prosecution witness, and so far the jurors who will decide Avery’s homicide case are getting an intimate look inside the salvage yard property.
Testimony last week focused largely on an overview of Avery’s Auto Salvage, with the most popular exhibit being the aerial photo of the 40-acre plot near Mishicot.
Testimony Monday focused inward — with pictures from inside Avery’s bedroom and living room and inside the burn barrels found on Avery’s yard.
Tyson testified Monday that he was with Manitowoc County investigators when they seized a gun rack from above Avery’s bed and the two guns it held, and handcuffs and leg irons from the bookcase in his bedroom. They later seized the bookcase and other furniture from the room, including a nightstand.
Tyson was assigned to the search team with Lenk and Colborn. Investigator David Remiker, a third Manitowoc County deputy, filled out the foursome.
Ironically, the piece of mail the investigators used to prove Avery lived at the trailer was a University of Wisconsin Law School envelope addressed to Avery. The school’s Innocence Project helped clear Avery of the 1985 sexual assault conviction using post-conviction demands for new DNA tests of old evidence.
Tyson said Monday that investigators seized a one-gallon bleach bottle from Avery’s bathroom and a carpet-cleaning machine from his trailer. Testimony earlier Monday from State Crime Lab forensic analyst John Ertl revolved around the absence of blood evidence inside Avery’s trailer and questioning about how one might clean up a crime scene.
Ertl said that bleach is what Crime Lab analysts use to decontaminate their work stations because it “destroys DNA, it destroys blood.” He noted that bleach can also hide DNA profiles in recently cleaned or diluted samples.
Ertl was on the stand for nearly 4½ hours Monday.
Ertl testified that the search turned up red stains Nov. 6 on entry doors of Avery’s trailer and on the vanity of the bathroom sink. All the stains tested positive as blood. Tyson said his search team also located a small bloodstain on the floor of Avery’s bathroom.
Tyson testified that he was the deputy who documented a fresh gash to the middle finger of Avery’s right hand on Nov. 9. Tyson, with the help of a registered nurse, collected DNA samples from Avery’s entire family that same day.
Ertl testified he wasn’t asked to go into Avery’s trailer the first day and was instead directed to take photographs of a golf cart and debris could elsewhere on the property.
Under cross-examination, defense attorney Jerome Buting suggested that Ertl would have been better suited for the search of the trailer, particularly in light of the conflict Manitowoc County investigators had with Avery.
Buting repeatedly asked Ertl if he was asked to help search the trailer. Ertl testified he was available, but never asked to help.
Manitowoc County sheriff’s deputy David Siders testified that he found a melted cell phone inside the burn barrel near Avery’s trailer.
Siders said he found the pieces beneath a metal car wheel rim in the barrel. The rim was tangled in wires Siders said were from a steel-belted tire.
Siders testified that he knew he had discovered cell phone parts when he saw the distinctive “M” logo used on Motorola products. Last week Halbach’s brother Mike testified that Teresa Halbach had a Motorola RAZR cell phone that was the lifeblood for her photography business.
Prosecutors completed their questioning of Tyson on Monday. Avery’s attorneys will have a chance to question him this morning.