A Recap of A Conversation on Justice In Chicago

A Recap of A Conversation on Justice In Chicago

By Jax West

I saw Dean Strang and Jerry Buting’s Milwaukee Converstation back in March and recapped that event here:


When I found out that they would be coming even closer to me and would be in Chicago I had to buy tickets for that as well. I figured that each speaking engagement would have different topics so I could hear something new. I was right. We weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside The Chicago Theater once the show began and the place was really dark so hopefully I will be able to read my notes to write this recap.  LoL  But off we go.


I guess first I should start with how awesome Jerry Buting is. I am one of the organizers for the Manitowoc Rally that is going to be next week, June 11th 11am-3pm and I am also part of the group that has been planning all of the #WeStand4Innocence Rallies all over the world.  You can read more about that here: http://www.freebrendan.com/index.php/2016/05/24/stand-4-innocence-worldwide-rally/

One of the organizers of another rally, Emily, suggested since I was going to see Strang and Buting that I should message Buting to get him to plug the Rallies as that’s what she did for hers and he did it. I asked how I message him and she said on Twitter. Ugh. I so don’t do Twitter. I have one but I really only use it to get Zellner’s Tweets. But this old girl was able to figure out how to message him and to my surprise he answered. He said he would mention the Rallies at the end of the show. He then asked me if I had met with Brendan’s lawyers after their show. I had seen Nirider and Drizin in Chicago in April and I wrote a recap of that you can read here: http://www.freebrendan.com/index.php/2016/04/07/recap-brendan-dassey-true-story-false-confession/

I told him I did not but I have spoken with both of them. I then asked Buting if I could interview him some time but I knew he was very busy. He asked if I would like to meet after the show. He told me to give him the names of the people going with me and he would leave backstage passes for us at Will Call. Sweet!

We get there, go to Will Call and get our passes. We got a backstage pass sticker but we were also given tickets. We go in and find out seats. They weren’t bad. But then I brought my ticket I got from Will Call to an usher and asked if that was a ticket for a seat as well.  She said yes and directed me to the seats. Much better seats! Score! So we moved on up.


That’s the only picture I have as I said, I couldn’t take any pictures of the actual show.  As we waited for it to begin I heard the woman next to me say something about when she dated Jerry. I was assuming at that point she was a long-time friend of his that lived in Illinois that he gave tickets to. More on that later. On to the show.

The show was moderated by Rob Wildeboer who is the Senior Editor at WBEZ. He introduced the lawyers and there were a lot of cat calls for the Dreamy Dean Strang. The first thing they talked about is where the cases are now. Brendan’s appeal is still pending while Steven’s are all done. The only thing Steven can do now is find new evidence that could get him a new trial or exonerate him. Strang gave huge props to Brendan’s lawyers Steven Drizin and Laura Nirider for everything they have done for Brendan.

They said no one was paid any money from Netflix. Not the Avery family, Steven, Brendan, the lawyers. No one. The filmmakers were already filming 3 months prior to Strang and Buting even taking the case. They then had to decide if they were going to allow them to film their case. Buting said they agreed as long as nothing aired until both trials were done and that nothing would violate the attorney/ client privilege. One of the filmmakers was also an attorney so she completely understood.

Buting said that when you hear Steven’s voice in the documentary that those were all taken from his calls to his girlfriend and family that are recorded in the jail.

They were asked what did they think was the most convincing evidence that says Steven is innocent and what says he’s guilty? Buting said the bones being in more than one location that was undisputed by the State that Teresa’s remains were found multiple locations is what he thinks proves innocence. The bones were found in the burn pit and the burn barrel behind Barb’s trailer. [Later in the show Buting added there was also the third location of the quarry he forgot to mention here.] Buting said the bones were from all different parts of the body all mixed up. He doesn’t believe anyone would murder someone and burn the body somewhere else and then put the bones in their own backyard.  Strang said the bones were dumped in the pit. They weren’t burned there.

Strang said the thing that points to guilt is Steven’s blood being in Teresa’s car.

Strang said that everything Steven said while in jail was recorded. The police would listen to his calls every day. They put Steven in a cellblock alone. Not just a cell alone. In an entire cellblock all by himself for 18 months. So all Steven had was calls to his loved ones.  Not one time did Steven ever say a single word that would suggest he was guilty to anyone.

Rob asked if the Prosecution put on a better case that we just didn’t see in the documentary. The lawyers both said NO. The crowd roared with laughter and applause.  Strang said this was not their movie. It was the filmmakers movie. So he can’t say what should or shouldn’t be in it. This was the story they wanted to show.  He said we saw the Prosecutor’s best case. Buting said anything not answered in the movie also wasn’t answered at trial.

Buting said something that isn’t mentioned is that the week Teresa went missing, Steven was going to be getting a $400,000 check, tax free, from the governor. So there was just no good motive that would explain why Steven would do this. That was more money than he has ever seen in his life. That wasn’t presented at trial.

Strang said two guys were tried for murder of the same woman but with different theories. Ken Kratz did that press conference alleging all the things Brendan supposedly did 10 months before they went to trial and then none of the things he said was presented in court. Brendan was tried on a different theory. Strang said this is tolerated by the American courts but why? He said it means one of those trials was not a search for truth.

Is there anything they think they could have done differently? Buting said they think about that all the time. Should they have changed the venue? Called a mistrial when the juror was dismissed at the end? They beat themselves up about it all the time. The jury pool was so polluted by that press conference. If they went for the mistrial they would just try Steven again.

Strang said Steven being sentenced to Life is a social death sentence. Buting said the State hoped they could flip Brendan and get him to testify against Steven. Brendan’s statements were impossible. It showed that Law Enforcement would stop at nothing to get Steven Avery. They coerced a kid to say things that weren’t true. They needed someone to say she was shot in the head. Brendan couldn’t say it because he wasn’t there.

Strang said they had to prepare to disprove Brendan in case he testified. But also because they knew the jury had heard that press conference so they had to disprove it even if not presented. There wasn’t any blood. Didn’t find any cut hair. They had a gag order so they couldn’t talk to the media about it and show them it’s false. The State wasn’t allowed to talk about it anymore either but then the media just had Kratz’s press conference to play over and over.

Strang didn’t watch any of Brendan’s trial even though it was all aired. He had to take leave of this whole thing. He took a vacation. Buting did watch almost all of it.

Buting said they were prepared to disprove Brendan’s confession if he testified. But the judge distanced himself from that confession.

Strang said sadly, Brendan’s case is utterly usual. Then they talked about The Reid Technique. Buting said they hear all the time from people who say the police took their kid out of class and no one called them and now the kid has confessed to something.  People think that can’t be legal but it is. But there’s push back now. We need to pass laws that make the confessions inadmissible.

A question asked if Teresa’s brother and ex-boyfriend were ever considered suspects.  Buting said not by the police and the judge ruled before the trial that they couldn’t raise any other suspects. They would have to show who had access, opportunity and motive.  The State doesn’t have to prove motive. Strang doesn’t think the brother had anything to do with Teresa’s murder. The crowd oohed at this statement. He said statistically when a woman is harmed it is by someone close to her that she trusts. The police zeroed their spotlight on Steven Avery almost immediately and he wasn’t part of her life.  He met her a couple times.

Strang pointed out that another woman was brutally raped after Steven was zeroed in on the last time.

Buting said the Internet and all the sleuths out there [That would be Krystyne as she is OBSESSED] are not hindering the case but helping. This is where he says that there was a third spot where bones were found in a quarry. He said there is not a single photograph of any of the bones until the sites had been shoveled through.

They have had over 100 scientists contact them about the EDTA. They say the tests were set so high that you wouldn’t have been able to detect if EDTA were in those samples.

Do they know who made those harassing phone calls to Teresa Halbach? Strang said she was on the phone a lot and there were a lot of repeat calls but no one had the same exchange number as from the area around the Salvage Yard. They never found out who made those calls that her employer testified about.

Strang said Len Kuchinsky was never a Public Defender. He takes appointments. Strang said Wisconsin has the lowest rate in the country. They are paid $40 an hour in court and $25 an hour for travel. Buting said it’s actually gone down as when he started it was $45 an hour.

Buting was shocked when he saw the Michael O’Kelly video. That he would coerce him to draw a picture and tell Brendan to make it bigger to show how she was shackled to the bed. Then there was the preprinted form where he only had the two choices; sorry or not sorry. How about I didn’t do it? The crowd cheered.

Strang said the defense lawyer thought he was working toward a plea agreement but there’s appropriate ways to do that. Buting said it is indefensible under any circumstances to let your client be interviewed without representation.

Strang talked about the Center for Wrongful Conviction of Youth and the various Innocence Projects that people could look into to help. He said they make a real difference in our criminal justice system. He said he doesn’t have the passion of Steven Drizin but they were handed the microphone because of ‘Making a Murderer’ so they thought they should use it if they could. He said if you don’t have money or time to volunteer then he wants people to take the mics from them and continue this conversation at home at dinner with their family. He said we should pay attention to elections and vote. Serve on a jury if summoned.

Buting ended the Discussion by plugging our rallies. I cheered that one. He said the people at the rallies are not going to accept status quo and we aren’t going to make it easy on the system. He said the media likes to cover protests and he wants us to keep it up.

So that was the show. I then had to wait with a small group of people to be brought backstage. We were then led down these old stairs and through hallways where all over the walls people have written on them. Various shows that have been there the cast have signed them. It was really neat. We were taken to a room that is like a big meeting room.  There Strang and Buting talked to the people there.


While I waited my turn the woman I had been sitting next to came up to me and said she had been sitting next to me and she saw me taking notes. I explained that I write articles about the show and that Buting invited me to come backstage. She then put out her hand to shake my hand and introduced herself. Jerry Buting’s wife! LoL


She went and got her husband and brought him over to me. He came and shook my hand and did the same for the three people I had with me. He said he thinks he messed up the name of our rallies and said We Stand 4 Justice instead of Innocence. I said it’s all good. I started to tell him about what we have been dealing with in Manitowoc but he said he read my article. That’s pretty cool. You can read that article here: http://www.freebrendan.com/index.php/2016/05/13/from-making-a-rally-to-push-me-shove-you/

I filled Buting in on the latest status of the Manitowoc rally and how I am doing everything I can to make sure we know our rights, are peaceful and don’t break any rules. He agreed that that was the way to go.

Then I got my picture taken with him.


I asked him if he would sign the rally shirt I brought along for one of the women who is helping organize the Manitowoc Rally (and she is obsessed). He said he has a horrible autograph but he did it.


So I am really happy I went to it the second time. I learned a couple things I hadn’t heard before like Steven was about to get $400,000 that week. I also liked that they talked about how two guys were charged for the same crime but different theories. That’s something that really bothers me about the whole thing.

Please join us on June 11 as We Stand 4 Innocence. Finally, as I always have to push this, if you haven’t signed the petition for Brendan Dassey’s Law, please do and share it. This is SO important. No child should be interrogated without a lawyer present.