What Is Brain Fingerprinting? How Brainwaves May Prove Steven Avery Is Innocent

farwell and avery
Steven Avery participates in Brain Fingerprinting with Dr. Lawrence Farwell on "Making A Murderer" Part 2. Netflix

Making A Murderer Part 2 premiered exclusive evidence in the case of Steven Avery, and Brain Fingerprinting is among the new information. The scientific process is featured in the new series, as Avery underwent the testing, which aims to reveal if an individual has any knowledge of a given event.

The testing, as shown in Part 2, was conducted by Larry Farwell, a PhD psychologist who invented the process. Farwell's website outlines the goals and science behind the process. The site gives a summary of the Brain Fingerprinting concept. It's simple to grasp: whoever committed a crime knows they committed the crime. They will have knowledge of secret information about a crime. A person who has not committed the crime, however, will have no knowledge of secret details from a crime scene.

Using the assumption, Farwell created a process that analyzes the brain's reaction to simple mentions of both key evidence in open cases, as well as insignificant references. A person who is guilty of a crime will show a spike in brain activity as a recognition that the noted information is stored in their brain. Someone who is innocent will not respond with recognition.

In the case of Avery, he was given key terms relating to Teresa Halbach's death. Avery was charged with her murder and is currently serving life in prison, though he maintains his innocence. Avery's Brain Fingerprinting showed he did not react to mentions of Halbach's passenger door, car trunk or other notes from the crime scene. This implied Avery did not have any knowledge of Halbach's death stored in his brain and he did not commit the murder.

Avery's current lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, has filed this new evidence with the court. It could be a useful tool in declaring Avery's innocence. Zellner's Motion For Post Conviction Release lists pages about the testing, as well as the confidence in Avery's answers. "The determination mathematically computed by the Brain Fingerprinting system in the case of Mr. Avery was: Information absent with a statistical confidence of 99.9 percent," Zellner wrote.

If Avery is freed with the air of Brain Fingerprinting, it won't be the first time Farwell's process has freed an innocent man, according to his website. Terry Harrington was freed after 24 years in prison after being convicted of murder. His statistical confidence acquired in the testing was also 99.9 percent.