2007 TrialOriginal Investigation

Excerpts From Ken Petersen’s Preliminary Testimony in Avery Trial – Pt 2

Originally posted at Tick Tock Manitowoc on Reddit by MMonroe54

Part II – Direct examination of Ken Petersen by Dean Strang, who now asks about Teresa Halbach’s disappearance and the investigation.

Q. So I’m talking about two days later, on Saturday, November 5, 2005, at about 11:30 or 11:45 in the morning, a decision was made to transfer control of the investigation into her disappearance, and circumstances surrounding it, to the Calumet County Sheriff’s Department and to DCI, or the Division of Criminal Investigation;is that true?
A. Yes.
Q. That decision to transfer control was made by you?
A. Indirectly, yes.
Q. You say indirectly, the primary focus of the investigation was in Manitowoc County, within the metes and bounds of Manitowoc County, correct?
A. Correct.
Q. To fall within your jurisdiction?
A. Correct.
Q. Your department had been involved in early steps in the investigation of Ms Hallbach’s disappearance?
A. Correct.
Q. Maybe you would explain, then, for me, what you mean when you say, indirectly, the decision that Saturday morning was made by you?
A. I had been out of town the previous week. I was out in Seattle, Washington. And I arrived home probably 10:30, quarter to 11, Saturday morning. And that decision to transfer had already been made, I assume, by the inspector. I never inquired. I agreed with the way it was going, so I didn’t interfere.
Q. Okay. I need to explore that just a little bit further to nail down timing. When you say you arrived home, do you mean physically at your home?
A. Yes.
Q. All right. You didn’t go in to work immediately that Saturday morning?
A. No.
Q. Had you been in contact with the office during the course of that week in Seattle?
A. No.
Q. So you really were —
A. The first I heard —
Q. — out of loop so to speak?
A. Yeah. The first I heard about the Halbach case was when a reporter called me Saturday after 11.
Q. Do you recall about when, after 11?
A. About 11:15, somewhere in that general area.
Q. Okay. And this was entirely news to you at that point?
A. Yes.

Petersen is sheriff, has been for six years, has been out of town, just got back, it is the era of cell phones….. and he expects us to believe that no one — not his second in command Hermann, not the County Exec, no one — has called to let him know that a vehicle belonging to a missing young woman has been found on property belonging to the family of a man who had an appointment with the young woman, a man he arrested in 1985 for rape, a man who spent 18 years in prison for it, who was exonerated two short years previously, a man who currently has a civil suit against the county in a suit for which his, Petersen’s, deposition was taken only two weeks previously?

Q. You got in contact with Mr. Hermann?
A. Yes.
Q. Inspector Hermann?
A. Right.
Q. Do you remember about when you did that?
A. It had been shortly after the reporter called.
Q. I will bet. By telephone?
A. Yes.
Q. All right. And at that point, he told you that he had already decided to shift the primary responsibility for the investigation to the two other law enforcement agencies I described?
A. Yes.
Q. Did he tell you when he had made that decision?
A. No. He had talked about conferring with Corp Counsel and that was what he advised. Normally we follow his advice.
Q. You agreed with that advice?
A. Yes.
Q. You had a discussion with him on his reasoning?
A. Yes.
Q. And in a nutshell — and you are free to disagree or explain this — but in a nutshell, the reason he described to you, after consulting with Corporation Counsel, was to avoid the appearance or the reality of a conflict of interest?
A. Correct.
**Q. Because at least a person of interest at that point was Steven Avery?
A. Yes.
Q. You were told that?
A. No, they didn’t give me any specific suspects or people of interest. They merely stated that the vehicle had been found on the Avery Salvage Yard property.**
Q. Correct. And what further information did you need, or ask for, or inquire about, to decide whether, in fact, there was a conflict of interest or the appearance of one?
A. I didn’t need anything more than that at that point.
Q. Avery Auto Salvage Yard, car found, that was enough?
A. Sure.
Q. The reason you perceived, or you agreed with Inspector Hermann’s assessment, that there was a potential conflict of interest, is that at that time a civil lawsuit by Steven Avery was pending against Manitowoc County and some former officials?
A. Correct.
Q. That was a civil lawsuit for 36 million dollars in damages?
A. Correct.
Q. It related to the 1985 conviction that you and I have discussed this morning?
A. Correct.
Q. Did you see that as a real and present conflict of interest on November 5?
A. I don’t see it so much as a conflict of interest, I would say a prudent decision just to keep accusation free.
Q. All right. And what did you — what did you understand the decision to be, in terms of the shifting of responsibility?
A. That the Calumet County Sheriff would run the investigation and I would pay for it.

I love Strang’s “I will bet” in response to Petersen’s answer to what he did next, after the reporter called! LOL. And it’s interesting, I think, that Peterson mentions that “I would pay for it”. He is clearly concerned not only about cost, but it’s how he says it: not “we”, not “Manitowoc County”, but “I”. It is my belief, from this, that he thought of the county as “his”, that he had a sense of ownership, as many do who are dedicated to their jobs, who have been in them for some time, and who may think of them as their identity.

And yet, at the same time, he insists he was totally and completely hands off, read no reports, heard nothing, knew nothing, did not speak of it to anyone. And, wait a minute…..he says he knows nothing at this stage except that a vehicle has been found at ASY, yet he also says he knows Steven Avery was a person of interest. Why would he know or assume that, as in why Steven Avery in particular? Why not Earl Avery or Chuck Avery or anyone else connected to the property? Since he claims to know nothing at this point, apparently not even that Allen Avery talked to Steven Avery or that Steven Avery had an appointment with Teresa Halbach, he also shouldn’t know that Steven Avery does not have a rock solid alibi, was out of the county, or in jail, or, indeed, somewhere else entirely. And yet he appears to assume he was a person of interest only because the missing person’s vehicle was found on his family property?

Q. Okay. In addition to paying for the investigation, what role was the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department to play, if any?
A. Support.
Q. What does support mean?
A. Logistics, equipment, whatever they needed, manpower.
Q. So the Calumet County Sheriff, Mr. Pagel, was to communicate with you, or your department?
A. As far as?
Q. Logistics, support, manpower, whatever he needed?
A. Yes.
Q. All right. So he would request it of you, or someone in your department?
A. Yes.
Q. And then you would provide it?
A. Yes.
Q. The Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department, in that way, continued to play an active role in the investigation into Ms Halbach’s disappearance?
A. Yes, I believe so.

He “believes so”.

Q. You monitored the progress of that investigation?
A. No, I have never seen a report on the actual investigation.
Q. All right.
A. I have gotten copies of bills, we have had conferences on security, that type of thing.
Q. The guy in charge usually gets the bills.
A. Yeah.
Q. But in your department, reports generated by deputies, or detectives, or sergeants, or lieutenants, don’t necessarily all come up to your desk?
A. Most of them do.
Q. And this one may have or haven’t?
A. Have not.
Q. Why?
A. I divorced myself from the early investigation.
Q. You personally?
A. Correct.
Q. All right. When did that happen, Sheriff Petersen?
A. On that Saturday.
Q. Immediately?
A. Right.
Q. Okay. Who did you leave as the liaison, or the contact person, or the reviewing person within your department, for your department’s role in the investigation?
A. Deputy Inspector Schetter.
**Q. With a formal directive to him of some kind?
A. No.
Q. With a conversation?
A. No, I didn’t talk to him. He may have talked to the inspector, he didn’t talk to me.**
Q. Oh. Okay. Do you know whether someone directed Deputy Inspector Schetter to play a reviewing role?
A. No.
Q. How do you know he is?
A. Because he was out at the scene with the sheriff and his people.

Okay. So he says in reply to the question “who did you leave as the liaison”, that it was Schetter. Then he denies giving him any kind of directive, says he may have talked to the inspector, but not to him. Then how did he, Peterson, leave him as the liaison? And later, he denies knowing if someone directed Schetter to play a reviewing role, and yet he knew he was because *”he was out at the scene with the sheriff and his people.”** Petersen knows nothing, talks to no one, reads no reports, so how does he know where Schetter was? Like his earlier testimony about Steven Avery and GA, he appears to contradict himself in every other question/answer.

Q. All right. And who is getting the reports 9 generated by the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department on the Halbach investigation and, ultimately, the arrest and prosecution of Mr. Avery?
A. I would believe Calumet County Sheriff’s Department would.
Q. Not Deputy Inspector Schetter?
A. Well, they would still be in our files, there would be copies there — or originals there. The copies would be — would be shipped.
Q. All right. I will see if I can do this efficiently, and the problem is, you may not know some of the facts I’m going to suggest to you.
A. Okay.
Q. Because it sounds like I have seen Manitowoc Sheriff’s Department reports that you probably have not. All right?
A. Sure.
Q. But let me suggest these things and we’ll see what you know and what you don’t know, or what you dispute. All right. The first law enforcement officer to speak with — speak personally with Steven Avery about Teresa Halbach, which was on November 3, was Sergeant Andrew Colborn of your department; is that right?
A. Don’t know.
Q. One way or the other?
A. Yeah, don’t know.
Q. You don’t dispute that?
A. Yeah, I don’t know.
Q. All right. The first law enforcement officers to search Mr. Avery’s trailer, this time with consent, on Friday, November 4, were two members of the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department, Lieutenant Lenk and Detective Remiker?
A. I believe they were with a Calumet County officer.
Q. You think they may have been with a Calumet County officer?
A. I believe so.
Q. But you know that Lenk and Remiker —
A. Had been at the trailer.
Q. — did a consent search of the trailer on Friday, November 4th?
A. Yes, I believe so.

See what I mean? He says “don’t know” when asked if Andrew Colborn talked to Steven Avery about Teresa Halbach. But then he “believes” that the first LE to search Steven Avery’s trailer and/or garage were Lenk and Remiker and that they were with a Calumet officer. If he is basically incommunicado about this investigation, as he maintains, how does he know these things? It seems obvious that he did know and that he could not resist letting that be known. He was used to being in charge and he didn’t, perhaps, like leaving the impression that he was not.

Here’s another example. Strang is asking him about the search of the trailer when the key was found:


Q. […]detached garage, first law enforcement officers to search, Lenk, Remiker, Colborn, and a deputy from Calumet whose has a name, and that’s Dan Kucharski?
A. I wouldn’t know who searched it.
Q. Don’t know one way or the other?
A. No, I don’t know who was in the garage.
Q. Don’t dispute that the three Manitowoc people were among the first law enforcement people to enter the garage?
A. It’s possible.
Q. All right. This one you may know. On November 8, which is Tuesday, it was widely reported that a law enforcement officer found a Toyota key that fit the Toyota Rav 4, in the bedroom of Steven Avery, in the trailer; do you recall that?
A. That would be Detective Lenk.
Q. That was Detective Lenk — or Lieutenant Lenk of your department?
A. Yes.

Again, I love what I think may have been a little sarcasm by Strang: “This one you may know.” Petersen has just said he wouldn’t know who searched the garage, that it’s “possible” three of his officers were there and took part. But then when Strang asks about Nov 8, he suddenly does know who found the key: Lenk. How does he pick and choose what he knows? This is preliminary stuff, before trial; he has not yet heard any testimony, should not know about any his officers plan to give. And, according to him, has never read any reports, didn’t talk to anyone about the investigation. So how would he know it was Lenk who found the key?

*There’s more, including Cross by Fallon and ReDirect by Strang which I think is also revealing, but in the interest of space, I won’t post it. Petersen’s preliminary testimony is a study in contradiction, imo. Did he tell some non-truths? Only he — and some others, perhaps — knows. But he uses evasive language, such as “possible” and “don’t know” instead of “yes” “no” or “I don’t know” — a psychologist might make something of that. But more than that, it seems incredible, as in almost humanly impossible, that he maintained the kind of distance and know nothing stance that he claims about this investigation, especially since he had a history with Steven Avery and had been deposed in the civil suit. And because it seems so unlikely, it raises questions, I think, about credibility, not only of Petersen himself, but his department, and the county authority as a whole.