Making a Murderer: Who is the Victim?

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Teresa Halbach

One final thought on the Netflix documentary series, Making a Murderer. Who is the victim? Who is she, really?

There has been extensive media reporting about the victimization of Steven Avery, who was wrongfully convicted of rape, exonerated, and while waiting for a $3.2 million settlement was accused and convicted of the murder of Teresa Halbach.

Another point is the victimization of Brendan Dassey, at the time of the murder a 16-year-old with an IQ of 70, borderline for being classified as intellectually disabled. In a previous post, we talked about the confession of Dassey and it’s implications in the conviction of himself and Avery. (Brendan Dassey: The Power of Confession in Making a Murderer)

Both Avery and Dassey received life sentences for the murder of Teresa Halbach, but on August 12, 2016, Brendon Dassey’s conviction was overturned by U.S. Magistrate Judge William Duffin. He will either be granted a new trial or set free.

Why are victims forgotten?

The forgotten victim in media reports and Making a Murderer is Teresa Halbach, who is barely remembered beyond the gruesome details of her murder. She is the pivotal character in the story, but only recognized as a byline.

Teresa Halbach should be remembered for more than being the young lady who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up brutally tortured and murdered, her body scattered about and burned on the property of Steven Avery.

Crime victims don’t make the headlines or the media story unless they are famous or a celebrity. It’s unfortunate that we remember the most heinous of criminals, but can’t  name their victims. Shame on our mainstream media that they have not honored the victims, but have entered another criminal’s name into the annals of pop culture.

So, who was Teresa Halbach?

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Teresa Halbach (*photo from People Magazine)

Teresa was a daughter, sister and a productive member of the community. One journalist who covered the original story, Diana Alvear, describes Teresa:

She grew up in a small farming community in Calumet County, Wisconsin. One of five siblings in a close-knit family, she was a 25-year-old aspiring photographer. She loved karaoke. She coached her younger sister’s volleyball team. By all accounts, she was one of the nicest, most caring persons most had ever met.

 

It’s also reported that Teresa Halbach had an extraordinary outlook on life, she cared about people and was always ready to help others. She had an outgoing personality, she valued her family and dreamed of one day becoming a mother.

Teresa Halbach

Teresa Halbach (*photo from People Magazine)

Growing up in a close-knit community, and even closer family, it can only be imagined how difficult it was to learn her fate. And now, having to re-live all of the details must be excruciating, especially in light of the fact that the 4 part documentary barely scratched the surface of exactly who was the real victim of Making a Murderer.

As Avery and Dassey continue to appeal to mainstream media reporters, Teresa Halbach is barely given a mention much less a name, a face, and honor as a murder victim.

One of the disturbing things that happens when working with wrongful convictions is the fact that during the time a person is incarcerated the true criminal has been free. The victims’ families, thinking they have the right person behind bars, now have to go back and start their search for justice all over again.

The biggest flaw in our criminal justice system is the re-victimization of the victims.


celebratingManagement Resources Ltd of New York is a professional investigative firm licensed in New York and New Jersey, members of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Associated Licensed Detectives of New York, and Founding Members and Regional Directors of Investigating Innocence.

Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin are available for interviews or speaking engagements.  Contact ImaginePublicity at 843-808-08509 or email contact@imaginepublicity.com

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Posted in Criminal Cases, Criminal Defense Investigations

The Prosecution Has a Team of Investigators, Why Shouldn’t You?

 

Arrested for a crime you didn't commit

If you’ve been arrested for a crime, especially if you are certain of your innocence, you must not rely on the justice system to always do the right thing. As the defendant in a criminal case, you’ll want to assemble the best team possible, and that should include having an investigator as part of your legal team.

Why is it so important? The prosecuting attorney has access to investigators, detectives, and police, along with the evidence they have acquired in an effort to build a case against you; their goal is to win. In a perfect world, justice would be the ultimate outcome, but, in today’s system, justice is commonly flawed, or political in nature.

Underneath the oftentimes corrupt criminal justice system lies the truth.

Investigators who work along with criminal defense attorneys are truth seekers, not looking for the next win, but searching out the veracity of the evidence so that true justice is served.

We’ve written extensively on how vital it is for defense attorneys to hire private investigators and how by doing so best serves the client. An investigator’s finding becomes a part of the “attorney work product” allowing the same protection of attorney/client privilege of confidentiality.

In a climate where wrongful convictions are being discovered every day, it’s imperative for a defendant to become educated on the possibility of being convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. A good investigative team can assist the defense attorney by combing through and analyzing the evidence, interviewing witnesses, and offering advice from their conclusions.

Recently, we wrote a two-part series on Steps to Take if Falsely Accused, addressing what to do at the time of arrest, and how to prepare for trial, a wrongful conviction, and the appeal process.

Having a private investigator on the legal defense team ensures that all witnesses and evidence are scrutinized thoroughly and, if there is any sign of misconduct, it can be presented before a defendant’s case is settled.

The hard truth; going to prison for a crime you didn’t commit isn’t always the anomaly.  Everyone should be aware of the consequences of an inadequate defense, one without the entirety of evidence required to paint the picture of the truth. This is a critical role of the investigators, to advocate for the client and ensure evidence and rights are preserved.

NJ Investigator of the Year Award, Management ResourcesManagement Resources Ltd of New York is a professional investigative firm licensed in New York and New Jersey, members of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Associated Licensed Detectives of New York, and Founding Members and Regional Directors of Investigating Innocence.

Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin are available for interviews or speaking engagements.Contact ImaginePublicity at 843-808-08509 or email contact@imaginepublicity.com

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Posted in Criminal Defense Investigations

The Ripple Effect of Wrongful Convictions

Ripple Effect of Wrongful Conviction

 

Wrongful convictions continue to get attention and the issue is finally making headway as more cases come to light. Additionally, there has been an increase of those willing to step up and advocate for the innocently incarcerated to create ways to clean up the criminal justice system.

Furthermore, we are learning about exonerees and their experiences, but we also must examine the effect that just one wrongful conviction has on a family and community.

Every family member of a person wrongfully convicted is put in distress. Had it not been for the dogged pursuit of his mother, Jonathan Fleming’s case may not have reached us at Management Resources, and we would not have had the opportunity to uncover evidence leading to his exoneration.

Children left behind without a parent face a life without their presence and guidance. They miss the opportunity to receive love and direction from a parent who is incarcerated.

Extended family, friends, and entire communities are forever changed by the experience of a wrongful conviction through lost contact and opportunity. Especially concerning are the lost contributions the person may have made to society were they not wrongfully convicted.

Maintaining a relationship with a spouse or significant other who is incarcerated is stressful at best. Oftentimes relationships cannot withstand the separation, no matter how strong the relationship was before the conviction, the strain is just too much.

“As we’ve seen in several wrongful conviction cases, an innocent person may spend 20+ years behind bars before a review of evidence results in the re-opening of the case, an investigation is conducted and the person is exonerated. One day behind bars for a crime they didn’t commit is too many.”

There is no way to fully compensate a person for time out of their life, lost possibilities and lost relationships. When they are finally free, there is little in the way of resources available to help the transition back into a society which has dramatically changed. A person being let out of prison on parole has more resources available to assist them than someone who is exonerated.

Monetary settlements frequently take time to receive; in the meantime, the exoneree is left with insignificant funds and skills to return to the workforce. And, they may return to the outside world homeless were it not for the generosity of family and friends.

Reunification with family can also be awkward when one has been out of the circle for so long, leading to further difficulty maintaining those relationships.

On the other side of the coin is the victim of the crime. Thinking the right person was convicted, they now realize that the person who actually committed the crime has not been brought to justice. They have not received a resolution to the case, and, once again, must pursue justice through the system, re-living the crime and all the negative ramifications.

“The ripple effect of wrongful conviction spreads far and wide into the lives of innocent bystanders, victims, and the legal system.”

Since the experience with the Jonathan Fleming case, we are committed to working towards change within the criminal justice system that continues to allow blatant mistakes to be made. Management Resources realizes that advocating for the wrongfully convicted, as well as the true victims, is the first step in making change happen.

As more cases come to the forefront we, along with the legal teams we work with, are learning more and more about the long-term effects of wrongful convictions. Not only are there physical changes from being incarcerated, psychological changes occur as well and must be addressed for the exoneree to make a successful transition and resume their lives.

To think that only one person, the wrongfully convicted, is affected is far from the truth, and as long as we allow it to happen we all are subjected to the consequences.

 

NJ Investigator of the Year Award, Management ResourcesManagement Resources Ltd of New York is a professional investigative firm licensed in New York and New Jersey, members of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Associated Licensed Detectives of New York, and Founding Members and Regional Directors of Investigating Innocence.

Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin are available for interviews or speaking engagements.Contact ImaginePublicity at 843-808-08509 or email contact@imaginepublicity.com

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Posted in Criminal Defense Investigations, Wrongful Convictions

Bob Rahn & Kim Anklin Attend SPI Event Featuring Paul Callan

The Society of Professional Investigators (SPI) is known as the premier fraternal organization for investigators in New York. SPI holds monthly meetings featuring the top experts in the law enforcement profession, forensics and legal fields.

On May 19, 2016, at Forlini’s Restaurant, 93 Baxter Street, New York, NY, Attorney Paul Callan was the featured guest speaker.

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Paul Callan, Bob Rahn, Kim Anklin and Gil Alba

Paul Callan is pictured with Management Resources principals, Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin, who worked with Callan recently on the Randy Williams wrongful conviction case. Also pictured is Gil Alba, president of ALDONYS.

Well known for his appearances as a legal analyst for CNN, and his representation in several high-profile cases dating back to “Son of Sam,” Callan has taken great interest in wrongful conviction cases.

Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin began their investigations into wrongful conviction cases after being contacted by the mother of Jonathan Fleming to review his case. Fleming’s subsequent exoneration and release made international headlines.

Short message from Paul Callan:
Across the country, wrongful conviction cases are finally getting more attention as technology, and analysis of these cases, reveals flaws in the criminal justice system. With the efforts of attorneys and private investigators, more falsely imprisoned people are being exonerated for crimes they did not commit.

Management Resources Ltd of New York is a professional investigative firm licensed in New York and New Jersey, members of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Associated Licensed Detectives of New York, and Founding Members and Regional Directors of Investigating Innocence.

Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin are available for interviews or speaking engagements.Contact ImaginePublicity at 843-808-08509 or email contact@imaginepublicity.com

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Posted in Wrongful Convictions

Steps to Take if Falsely Accused of a Crime, Part II

 

In Part I of the series we discussed who would most likely become a victim of a false accusation and what to do if it happens. Additionally, for an expected positive outcome, we offered crucial information that could impact the outcome of the case.

In Part II we will suggest steps to take if the case goes to trial, if the person is wrongfully convicted and sent to prison, and how to be prepared.

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How to prepare for trial

If the advice in Part I was taken, the person falsely arrested has hired a criminal defense attorney experienced in wrongful convictions, and, in turn, the attorney has hired a reputable private investigator. This is the team that will work closely with the accused who must be honest, forthcoming and trust in the team’s knowledge and skills.

  1. In some cases, the person arrested and charged with a crime may be out on bail. This isn’t the time to talk to family and friends about the crime, or the case. Everything said could potentially be used by the prosecution during trial. It’s best to keep conversations between the accused and the legal team.
  2. Pull together all tangible evidence. This would include receipts, cell phone and text records, perhaps even surveillance tape from a location like a store or bank.  Any documentation is critical to prove whereabouts during the time of the crime. Create a timeline of everything that happened before and after the crime occurred.
  3. Make a list of every possible witness. The list should include all known details about anyone coming in contact with the accused during the timeline of events and should be turned over to the attorney and investigators.
  4. Never turn over anything to police without the consent or presence of the attorney.
  5. Avoid the media and press. If this is a high-profile crime, the media will be covering all aspects of it. Interviews or commentary should be avoided and a sense of calm should be practiced, even if members of the media get rude or question in public. Do not respond.
  6. Dress professionally for court. Check hair, makeup, shave, jewelry, posture and be sure to look neat and polished. Confidence of innocence, not cockiness, must be shown at all times while in court. Respect for the judge, jury and other participants is imperative. Listen to testimony and if there are questions or comments, take notes and pass discreetly to the attorney.

A verdict of guilty

A guilty verdict is not the expected outcome for someone who knows they are innocent. However, the criminal justice system allows for a series of appeals for convictions. It’s vital at this point to hire an appellate attorney and private investigator with experience in wrongful convictions.

It’s never a good idea to file post-conviction motions or appeals Pro se, or on your own behalf, rather than being represented by an attorney. An appellate attorney will know the portion of the law that applies to specific case as well as the appeals process.

Appeals should be filed with the court as quickly as possible. All facts, evidence and witnesses need to be provided to the attorney to support the claim on which the appeal is based.

The best outcome would be an exoneration, expungement of a criminal record, and the ability to go back to family and friends and resume living. Nevertheless, results will vary, but proper preparation, with the support of other exonerees and advocates, can make the transition more successful.

By following the steps explained in Parts I & II of this series, our hope is that everyone is better informed and true justice is served more often.

NJ Investigator of the Year Award, Management Resources

Investigators of the Year, Kim Anklin and Bob Rahn

Management Resources Ltd of New York is a professional investigative firm licensed in New York and New Jersey, members of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Associated Licensed Detectives of New York, and Founding Members and Regional Directors of Investigating Innocence.

Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin are available for interviews or speaking engagements.Contact ImaginePublicity at 843-808-08509 or email contact@imaginepublicity.com

 

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Posted in Criminal Defense Investigations, Wrongful Convictions

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