The legal case of Steven Avery made its way into the national spotlight back in 2015 with the debut of the Netflix docu-series Making a Murderer, which chronicled Avery's life before, during, and after he was accused and later convicted of murdering a woman by the name of Teresa Halbach. The series cast doubt on whether Avery had been given a fair trial, and the legal battle is ongoing. Although Avery's request for a new trial was recently denied, his lawyer now claims to have new evidence that could clear Avery of all charges.
Defense attorney Kathleen Zellner filed a motion on behalf of Steven Avery on October 23, requesting that the court reconsider giving Avery a new trial based on new evidence. Newsweek reports that Judge Angela Sutkiewicz originally refused to order a new trial because Avery's lawyer did not sufficiently establish the grounds. Zellner's motion indicates that there is evidence that was not considered at the time when the new trial was denied. According to the court document, a new witness has come forward with information that could change everything.
This new witness allegedly came forward to state that he or she saw Teresa Halbach's car parked at a turnaround on November 4 and 5 in 2005. As this car was found on the Avery property on November 5 and used as evidence that Halbach had been killed by Steven Avery, evidence that it had actually been parked elsewhere could raise reasonable doubt if presented to a jury. According to the motion, the witness reported seeing the car but the police officer did not make an official report.
The new witness is only one reason why Kathleen Zellner argues that Steven Avery needs a new trial to be exonerated. The motion (via Scribd) alleges that forensic testing of the home computer of the Dassey family found images of violent pornography and torture, including images of Teresa Halbach herself and women who resemble Halbach. According to the case presented by Zellner, only Bobby Dassey -- brother of Brendan Dassey whose testimony helped put Avery behind bars -- was home at the time when the images were accessed.
Additionally, Steven Avery's legal team claims that Teresa Halbach's ex-boyfriend may have had a hand in what happened to her. Ryan Hillegas reportedly had Halbach's day planner, which was ultimately passed on to the authorities, although with a page torn out. A friend of Hallbach's evidently stated that she was speaking to Halbach in the morning on the day she died, which is noted in the planner. Kathleen Zelner suggests that the only way Hillegas could have had the planner is if he had been present at the crime scene.
Finally, Steven Avery's lawyer claims that forensic testing casts doubt on earlier findings. For one thing, the bullet fragment that was posited as the one that killed Halbach allegedly does not have any bone particles, although there are wood particles present. Such evidence would suggest that the bullet struck wood rather than the head of a human. Additionally, the motion claims that far too much of Avery's DNA was found on Teresa Halbach's vehicle to have been left by somebody in the heat of a crime. This claim presumably ties into the theory that evidence was planted, as suggested in the Making a Murderer docu-series.
We'll have to wait and see. If the judge decides that there's merit to these claims, Steven Avery's conviction could hypothetically be overturned and his name cleared. If you haven't watched the docu-series yet, all ten episodes of Making a Murderer are available streaming on Netflix. For some lighter and/or more fictional fare, our fall TV guide has plenty of options. Netflix actually has a Making a Murderer spoof series as well if you're in the mood for something new while we wait for more Making a Murderer.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).