The attorney for Making A Murderer’s Steven Avery is requesting a new trial for the convicted murderer, filing a 1,272-page notice for post conviction relief in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.
Avery is serving a life sentence for the 2005 murder of freelance photographer Theresa Halbach. The 2015 Netflix documentary series Making A Murderer raised questions about the conviction, leading many to believe that Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, who was also charged with the murder and is serving a life sentence, are innocent. The documentary suggested that police might have planted evidence on Avery’s property and that investigators took advantage of Dassey’s limited intellect to coax him into confessing. Avery previously served 18 years in prison for the wrongful conviction of sexual assault and attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen, before being fully exonerated in 2003 through DNA evidence. He filed a suit against the county two years before he was arrested as a suspect in the Halbach murder.
Avery's attorney Kathleen Zellner filed the post conviction relief motion on Wednesday to try to get Avery released. The first 220 pages of the appeal are available on Zellner’s website.
"As of the filing of this petition, Mr. Avery has been locked up for 10,909 days for crimes he did not commit. Mr. Avery has been alive for 20,058 days, so over 54% of his life has been spent behind bars," the motion states.
The appeal argues that there is new evidence that proves that Avery’s DNA was planted. Zellner said she had new scientific testing done, which previously wasn’t available. The attorney also stated in the motion that the bullet fragment found in Avery's garage was not the bullet shot through Halbach's head. She said a microscopic examination of the hood latch on Halbach's vehicle proved that Avery's DNA did not get there by him touching the car. Zellner claimed that the DNA found on a key contained too many cells to be transferred by Avery just holding it. She said it could have been planted using something like Avery's toothbrush.
Zellner wrote in her motion that other suspects weren’t ruled out in the last trial. She stated that Halbach’s ex-boyfriend had misled investigators about damage on Halbach's vehicle. Zellner also claimed that the ex had motive to kill her.
Avery's previous trial attorneys, Dean Strang and Jerome Buting, failed at representing their client by not putting expert witnesses on the stand to talk about DNA and blood spatter evidence, the document alleges. Zellner also accused special prosecutor Ken Kratz of fabricating evidence and destroying Avery's reputation.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice put out the following statement: "We are confident that as with Mr. Avery's prior motions, this one also is without merit and will be rejected once it is considered by the court. We continue to send our condolences to the Halbach family as they have to endure Avery's ridiculous attempts to re-litigate his guilty verdict and sentence."
[Calumet County Jail]
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.