Making a Murderer: Sudbury forensics expert reflects on his testimony at Steven Avery trial
Dr. Scott Fairgrieve called as defense witness at 'Wisconsin's trial of the century'
A Sudbury forensics expert is watching developments around the Netflix true-crime mega-hit Making a Murderer with more interest than most: Dr. Scott Fairgrieve testified for the defense during the 2007 trial.
Fairgrieve, who is chair of Forensic Science at Sudbury's Laurentian University, said he was contacted by Steven Avery's defense lawyers.
Jerome Buting and Dean Strang asked Fairgrieve to review a forensic anthropology report from the site where charred human remains — those of Teresa Halbach — were recovered on Avery's property.
"And they said, 'It's quite a compelling case'," said Fairgrieve. "At the time, they said they wanted to — I'm not so much sure as it was warn me — but let me know that this was Wisconsin's trial of the century."
Fairgrieve said the trial was sensational, with heavy media coverage every day of the proceedings. Avery, who stood accused of murder, had already made the front pages when, after 18 years behind bars, he was exonerated for a sexual assault he did not commit.
Fairgrieve was called upon to sift through photographs and reports from the scene where Halbach's remains were found. The big question: was her body burned on Avery's property, or was it burned somewhere else and then moved?
On the stand
Fairgrieve characterized the way the prosecution questioned him at trial as something of a game of cat and mouse.
"They said, 'So you didn't actually see the remains' — which is quite true — I saw all the photographs and all the documentation and everything that was disclosed by them, which is supposed to be a complete record. And I said, 'No, I didn't get a chance to go to the scene ... the scene had been so destroyed [by investigators] by the time I would've been there it just — there was no point," said Fairgrieve.
Ultimately, Fairgrieve said in his professional opinion, one could not conclude with perfect certainty that the remains had not been moved.
"As a forensic scientist, I'd say you're right to question this," he said of the defense team's assertion.
"I think there should've been a mistrial, myself," said Fairgrieve.