MAKING A Murderer chief investigators mingled with Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey’s juries during their trials – even going up to a hotel juror’s hotel room and showing up at a private dinner at a restaurant, Sun Online can reveal.
In an exclusive interview, Avery juror Richard Mahler reveals that the sheriff in charge of Teresa Halbach’s murder investigation turned up unannounced at the jury’s private dinner to give them permission to drink alcohol.
Richard, who was a strong believer of Steven Avery’s innocence, claims the sheriff then turned up at his hotel room later that night.
Another juror claimed he was spookily doorstepped by a leading detective, who “scared the living daylights out of him”, and felt he was being intimidated to keep quiet
There were similar concerns with Brendan Dassey’s jurors when the deputy sheriff allowed her husband to deliver them pizza and serve up them drinks for three and a half hours.
Avery’s original defence attorney Jerry Buting told Sun Online that he would have ordered a mistrial if he’d known about the incidents – saying that the jury interference is “unprecedented”.
On the first night of deliberations, Avery’s sequestered jury were eating dinner in a private dining room at Seven Angels restaurant, Chilton, Wisconsin, purposely away from the public and guarded by bailiffs.
Mahler says that some of them wanted an alcoholic drink and Calumet County Sheriff Gerald Pagel arrived.
Sheriff Pagel had led the search for the killer of 25-year-old photographer Teresa, who was raped and tortured to death on 31 October 2005.
Mahler said: “A couple of jurors asked the bailiff if we could have a drink at the restaurant, I guess they must have called Pagel, and that’s how he came along.
“I didn’t realise what his role was in the situation or his role in the whole case.”
Later on the same evening, all the jurors were given permission to call home, so Mahler spoke to his wife, who told him that there’d been an accident at home and his stepdaughter had been in a car crash.
He says: “I was worried, I told the bailiffs that I wanted to go home, to make sure everything was alright. Then the bailiffs left my room and came back with Sheriff Pagel, he handed me the phone to the judge, and he asked me: ‘Are you sure you want to go home?’
“He did leave the restaurant, but I’m not sure how he ended back at the hotel, all I know is he ended in my room.
“According to what Jerry [Buting] told me after, if he’d known that Pagel was in my hotel room, he would have called a mistrial. The only person who had business to be in my hotel room is the bailiff.”
Mahler was allowed home and was discharged from the jury, but Avery’s former lawyer Buting says that the two incidents were enough to cause a mistrial.
“There was no reason for Pagel to show up,” Buting said.
“At the time, the explanation was that Pagel came by just to say: ‘Yes, the jurors can have a drink as long as they aren’t deliberating’.
“He shouldn’t have done it, he could have just sent a message.
“And there’s no reason for him to come into Mahler’s room.
”The reason you keep them completely separate from people involved in the investigation is undue influence on the jury, spoken or unspoken, and there’s grounds for a mistrial here.
“Judges aren’t even meant to have contact with them, so what the heck [is this]?
“He may say there was no influence, but who knows?”
This isn’t the only strange case of police interference with jury deliberations.
Deputy Sheriff Melia Prange and Detective Dave Remiker were both in charge of ensuring no one could interfere with Avery’s nephew and co-accused Brendan Dassey’s jury, yet Prange allowed her husband to deliver them pizza, then serve drinks for three and a half hours from 9pm to 12.30am.
According to the police report into the incident, this was because there were “no waitresses around”.
Prange and Remiker were reprimanded by bosses with Remiker given a warning and Prange a one-day suspension.
Another juror told Mahler of a mysterious episode when a leading officer in the case arrived on his doorstep late at night just after the trial had finished.
“He said that the officer had come to his home and said: ‘We got a 911 call at this address,'” Mahler said.
“The juror said: ‘No one called it.’ He freaked out, why would he come to the house and say this?
Mahler has been working alongside Avery and Dassey supporters to campaign for their freedom, and has become good friends with the family, including Avery’s parents Dolores and Allan.
He says: “I feel hurt, upset, angry that I didn’t stay [on the jury] and that Steven and Brendan were wrongfully convicted. I believe in this case, I hope I live to see the day when they’re released.
“I don’t want to go to my grave knowing that they’re still incarcerated for something they didn’t do, it’s wrong, the whole justice system needs to look at itself in this State.
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“I’ve made a lot of friends around the world. I’ve been to Mr and Mrs Avery’s property, we had a cook out at [Avery’s niece] Carla Chase’s house, went to the salvage yard, and out for dinner with [his brothers] Chuck, Earl and Mrs Avery, they’re really sweet people.
“There’s a lot of support out there. I still feel regret, so the support has helped me through, but I won’t be at rest until Steven and Brendan are out.”
Sun Online reached out to Sheriff Pagel, who has now retired, current Calumet and Manitowoc county officials and Avery’s current attorney Kathleen Zellner for comment.
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