Steven Avery’s former attorney Jerry Buting tells PEOPLE that the Netflix series Making a Murderer has breathed new life into Avery’s case.
“Some interesting information is surfacing,” he says, adding that “newly discovered evidence, either fact witnesses or scientific evidence,” is Avery’s only hope for a new trial.
Buting, who represented Avery alongside attorney Dean Strang, says cases like this are not uncommon. “Unfortunately, what happened to Steven is not as rare as we would hope,” he says. “Studies of actual DNA exonerations have shown law enforcement of prosecutorial misconduct was a factor in many of those wrongful conviction cases.”
He adds: “The documentary has shown the public for the first time — through the actual testimony of witnesses and statements of participants — how much reasonable doubt there was in Steven Avery’s case.
“Many of the flaws in our system are so deeply entrenched that some law enforcement agents and prosecutors no longer fear any pushback from the public when things like this happen,” he continues. “They rely on mock outrage that anyone could even suggest corruption and misconduct like this can occur, and then try to intimidate the defense from showing the evidence for what it is.”
Buting Rebuts Prosecutor’s Claims
Buting also called out former District Attorney Ken Kratz for “continuing his public misinformation campaign.”
“He is making statements he should know are untrue, like claims about Steven Avery’s ‘sweat DNA’ being found on the hood latch of the Rav4,” says Buting. “There is no such thing as ‘sweat DNA.’ DNA is found in all nucleated cells, but there has never been a test to determine that a sample of DNA came specifically from perspiration.”
He adds: “What Attorney Kratz also has not mentioned is that there are many studies that show ‘touch DNA’ can be innocently transferred from one object to another, or one person to another, without any connection to a crime.
“Whether the mechanism is via shed skin cells is as yet unknown. Because evidence can be transferred from one object to another evidence techs know they must change gloves after each area tested to avoid contamination.
Buting concludes: “The crime lab analyst admitted in the Avery trial that he opened the hood latch without changing gloves, so he may have been the source of that DNA Attorney Kratz keeps mentioning. Moreover, none of Avery’s fingerprints were found anywhere in or on the car, including the hood.”
These days, Buting continues to work on Avery’s behalf, though he does officially represent him, and occasionally visits Avery in prison.
“I think about Steven often, and the injustice of a second wrongful conviction for him,” he says. “But I am hopeful that new information surfacing as a result of Making a Murderer will lead to his ultimate vindication.”