Making a Murderer: FBI's LeBeau and Special Prosecutor Gahn disapprove of the situation they find themselves in
In Episode 7, new evidence comes to light. The defence finds reasonable evidence to believe that Steven's blood was taken from a vial of previously stored blood, and planted in Teresa's vehicle (RAV 4). If tests conclude that EDTA, a preservative that keeps stored blood from spoiling, is present, this could provide scientific evidence that proves the blood was planted. Their hopes are soon quashed on finding that presently no laboratory carry out this kind of testing.
Despite this, the State somehow managed to get the FBI to run this test at short notice, concluding that it did not contain EDTA and therefore could not have come from the vial of blood. Dr. Marc LeBeau (Chemistry Unit Chief, FBI), takes to the stand with his conclusion.
Misalignment Between Words and Behaviours
In this post, I want to highlight significant nonverbal cues, that raise red flags, or show misalignment between LeBeau's words and behaviours, during questioning in court, by Norm Gahn (Special Prosecutor, Milwaukee County Assistant Attorney). Gahn, himself, shows a few behaviours that raise red flags.
Misalignment between words and behaviours are the cues that are the most reliable in deception detection. Because, we all have the ability to hide the truth with our words, but none of us have the ability to hide involuntary nonverbal behaviours, that signal how we actually feel.
Before we look at the words and behaviours shown in the video clip, let me explain what certain nonverbal cues mentioned mean.
A word of warning, some of the nonverbal cues are barely detectable to an untrained eye. There are some microexpressions that we have omitted to mention, because even to a trained eye, they are hard to see. They flash over the face at a fraction of a second and unless you know which facial contractions to look for, you just won't see them.
Slow down your YouTube speed settings to 0.25 or 0.5, to be able to see the ones I've mentioned. Blink and you'll miss them- pun intended! ;)
I previously explained eye blocking in this article. In short, when faced with something we don't like, we cover our eyes; with our hands, or our eyelids. It can be in response to a person, a topic or even an object (picture someone receiving bad news, or seeing an unsightly object). It's as if we are blocking out what we've seen or heard (or say), that is disagreeable to us. It can increase when people are lying, however, it can't be taken as a lying cue, in it's own right, because we also do it when we tell the truth. It simply tells us that there is something disagreeable.
High Distress or 'The Not Face'
Tightly clenched lips, with the mouth deeply turned downwards usually indicates high distress. However, researchers have very recently discovered 'the not face', said to be the eighth universal (innate and across all cultures) expression. LeBeau's expression in this screenshot, looks remarkably like the not face, especially in the lips, mouth and chin. The not face signals disapproval and is expressed when we speak a negative sentence.
Microexpression of Contempt
I previously explained microexpressions and contempt in this article. In short, a microexpression is a fleeting facial expression that leaks our true emotion in just a fraction of a second. Contempt is the most powerful of the expressions as it signals hatred or disdain. This expression looks like a semi-smile (one sided smile) or smirk, where one side of the mouth pulls out to the side. LeBeau expresses this with the left side (right side, from your perspective) of his mouth.
The eyelid flutter is involuntary and signals discomfort or dislike. It can be triggered by stress, and is usually seen when somebody says something that we strongly disagree with, in people struggling with thoughts or in finding the right words. We see this in people that stutter, which makes sense in terms of it’s meaning of struggling to find the right words.
One Sided Shoulder Shrug (misalignment)
The one sided shoulder shrug is a clear signal that the speaker is not confident in their own words. The shrug takes place as the words are being spoken, or at the end of the sentence. On the other hand, a full shoulder shrug (both shoulders) indicates the speaker is confident in their words. For example, saying, “I don’t know”, with a one sided shoulder shrug, means there’s more to it and the speaker is potentially withholding information. Saying the same line with a full shoulder shrug, indicates the speaker really doesn’t know. It can be either subtle or pronounced. This is not a lying cue per se, it’s simply an indicator of lack of confidence in their spoken words.
Head Shake (Misalignment)
When we nod or shake our head in the opposite direction to what we are saying, take the nonverbal, instead of the verbal, as being the true expression. Remember we can adapt our spoken words to conceal, but it's harder, or in some cases impossible (for involuntary cues), to conceal our behaviour. The head shake isn't universal (some cultures do it differently), but in this context/culture, it's a misalignment. As an example, LeBeau states, "It's my opinion that...", and at the same time he shakes his head (very subtly, slow the video down). In other words, he's disagreeing with his own words.
Watch the video below in conjunction with the notes below it.
Starting 1:31 minutes in to the video clip:
"Were you able to reach a conclusion, concerning the presence of EDTA, on the blood swabs that you tested from Teresa Halbuck's RAV 4, that were sent to you in this case?"
"Yes Sir. We were not able to identify any indication of the presence of EDTA, in any of the swabs that were submitted to our laboratory, and were reported to us as being collected from the RAV 4." (extended eye block; the not face; microexpression of contempt).
Note his choice of words. In the second part of LeBeau's statement, he is avoiding answering Gahn's question directly. Is he altering his words to avoid telling a lie in court? He seems confident that EDTA was not present, but then responds to the second part of the question with a switch in words. Consider two key words: 'submitted' and 'reported'. This suggests that he doubts the source of the blood tested. Team this with three nonverbal cues in one hit: dislike, disapproval & hatred. He's stuck in the middle, he's been put there by the prosecution, but he appears to disagree with what he's had to do, and he's trying to find the right words to avoid telling a lie.
"Do you have an opinion, to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, whether the blood stains from Teresa Halbuck's RAV 4, that you tested, came from the vial of blood, of Steven Avery, that was in the Manitowoc County Clerk of Court's office?"
(At the end of this question, LeBeau does an eyelid flutter).
"It's my opinion that (head shake [misaligned with words]), the blood stains that were collected from the RAV 4 (head shake [misaligned with words]), could not have come from the EDTA (microexpression of contempt; one sided shoulder shrug) tube, um, that was provided to us in this case."
Consider his words teamed with the nonverbal cues. He shakes his head when mentioning, "(collected from the)... RAV 4". Notice he says, "EDTA tube" with no mention of Steven Avery's blood. He shows contempt (hatred) and indicates he isn't confident in his words (shrug), Then hesitates, "um", and continues with another key statement, "that was provided to us". Again, this could suggest his doubt in the samples provided to him.
At the end of this, LeBeau, sends a look of curiosity (eyebrows raised, head back), as if to say "Did you get what you wanted?" or to judge behavioural responses from the prosecution.
It's seems clear to me that he's been put in a situation that he disapproves of, and he's tying to stay above the surface. To say what he's supposed to say, without actually telling a lie. The question is, what kind of bullying, or threats have put him in that position, so that he isn't prepared to speak out the whole truth, in a matter with such serious consequence. Let's dig deeper and back up a little bit, to take a look at Norm Gahn's body language, to see how he feels about the situation. Is he the bullier, or is he also being bullied? There are some interesting behaviours that allow us to see the bigger picture.
Back up to 1:31 again, when Gahn asks the first question that we looked at.
"Were you able to reach a conclusion, concerning the presence of EDTA, on the blood swabs, that you tested from Teresa (side head nod) Halbuck's RAV 4 (glance at Kratz), that were sent to you in this case?"
Gahn sits still (this is his baseline [usual behaviour], sudden significant deviation from it raises a red flag), with his fingers tightly interlocked (high stress) in front of him (vulnerability), as he asks the question. It suddenly gets interesting:
His head quickly nods (points) sideways towards Kratz, (most likely an subconscious gesture), as he unlocks his fingers and moves his hand towards his glasses on the table. He immediately drops his head to conceal a fleeting glance towards Kratz (we look to our superiors [real or perceived] to judge their response), then puts on his glasses (possible blocking behaviour; we block with our body or objects, when we don't like something). All of this happened within 2 seconds (1:38 - 1:40).
Gahn is clearly uncomfortable (sudden abundance of behaviours), and aware of close surveillance from Kratz. I have to question why, at this particular point in the question:
"...Teresa Halbuck's RAV 4, that were sent to you in this case?"
This is the same part of the question that LeBeau is also uncomfortable with!
The images below capture Gahn's concealed (head down), fleeting glance towards Kratz, he then looks back towards LeBeau and sustains eye contact. These are all captured at 1:40 into the clip, they occur at a fraction of a second. Meanwhile, Kratz closely observes Gahn's every move.
Let's back up even more to 0:18, because there's another fleeting glance from Gahn towards Kratz. Let's see what he was saying at that moment.
"...An allegation of law enforcement officers planting evidence" (fleeting glance at Kratz).
And another incidence occurs at 1:07. On this occasion it's a double glance. This time it's in response to LeBeau's words, funnily enough on the same topic of planting.
"The notion that blood was planted from an EDTA tube" (fleeting glance at Kratz).
LeBeau and Gahn, if you're reading this, it's clearly evident that you were under pressure to 'perform' your part in the charade, and you were clearly uncomfortable the command. Why? What threat or bribe had put you there? Isn't it time you step up and speak out with the whole truth?