The 10-part Netflix documentary series that has captured the nation and has made headlines over the past year has more recently taken a new turn. Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, most famously known for being found guilty of the murder of Teresa Halbach, may have a second chance at freedom. Just this past week, Avery’s co defendant and nephew, had his case overturned by a federal judge in the state of Wisconsin. Avery’s current lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, is increasing her efforts in the hope to additionally free Avery, as she believes he is innocent of the crime.
What you should know:
- Mr. Avery was first convicted of sexual assault back in 1985.
- After spending 18 years behind prison bars, his case was exonerated in 2003 based on DNA evidence. It is possible Steven Avery is in prison, wrongfully incarcerated, for the second time.
- Only two years out of prison, Avery and his nephew were arrested and convicted in relation to the killing of Ms. Halbach. Both men were sentenced to life in prison.
- A Change.org petition with over 350,000 signatures has been made imploring President Obama to pardon Avery, and a direct petition to the White House with over 100,000 signatures has been presented.
- The Netflix series that documented and brought to light Steven Avery’s legal battles was produced over a 10-year period.
Kathleen Zellner, who has successfully exonerated 17 people over the span of her career, plans to file a motion next week that would allow her direct access to the DNA that was collected and used against Avery in his trial. She does have an alternate suspect in mind but has not yet presented this information to a jury. A tip provided from someone related to the case and who is deemed as a credible source, in conjunction with forensic evidence, may be enough to free Avery once and for all. With the new and updated forms of DNA testing, Zellner noted that it may be possible to show that the physical evidence prosecutors presented against Avery, such as Ms. Halbachs bones, may have instead been tangibly planted at the scene of the crime. Zellner firmly believes that the crime scene simply does not support the idea of Avery as the culprit in Teresa Halbachs murder. Moving forward in her investigation, she plans to look further into and assess Averys vehicle, as his blood was found only in the front seat, while the victims blood was found solely in the rear of the vehicle. Upon speaking with forensic scientists, conclusions were made that there would likely be a mixture of their blood in the car, as opposed to the blood being separately dispersed. Zellner plans to request an evidentiary hearing to reveal her recent findings.
Dassey: A Free Man?
While prosecutors did present physical evidence against Steven Avery in relation to the crime, the only form of evidence linking Dassey to the crime was his confession, which is now suspected of being a coerced statement. The Wisconsin judge ruled that not only had he been improperly interrogated in regards to the crime, he also did not have a parent or legal counsel present during the interrogation. Dassey was only sixteen years old at the time of the interrogation. If everything progresses accordingly, he will be released from prison sooner rather than later. If authorities decide within 90 days to schedule a new trial, his freedom may once again be jeopardized.
To read more about the release of Dassey you can find an article on CNN.com written by Steven Almasy.
You can also find the decision of the federal district court judge attached to the yahoo article.
To read more about Criminal Law in Massachusetts and across the country, visit Attorney DelSignore website for current information.