MANITOWOC COUNTY — She was portrayed as a loving, loyal fiancee in the popular Netflix series “Making A Murderer,” but Steven Avery’s ex-fiancee had some very negative things to say about him when speaking with HLN’s “Nancy Grace” on Wednesday night, January 13th.
Steven Avery is the subject of the 10-part Netflix docuseries released on December 18th.
Avery was convicted in 1985 in the rape of jogger Penny Beerntsen on a beach near her home in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. After serving 18 years in prison he was exonerated based on DNA evidence connecting the attack to another man.
Avery was released in 2003 and filed a lawsuit against Manitowoc County for wrongful conviction and imprisonment. Two years later, he was arrested in the death of Teresa Halbach, a young photographer whose charred remains were found on his family’s auto salvage yard.
This week, Avery filed two motions alleging violations of due process rights in his prosecution for the 2005 rape and murder of Halbach.
Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey are each serving life sentences for her death — Avery without the possibility of parole.
Avery said he wants to be released from prison while the Wisconsin Court of Appeals considers his latest challenge to his 2007 murder conviction.
The Netflix series has renewed interest in Avery’s ongoing legal troubles, leading to calls for his release and a petition seeking a presidential pardon. It was declined because the President cannot pardon someone convicted of a state criminal offense. The only person who can, Governor Scott Walker, has said he won’t do so.
Wisconsin prosecutors and law enforcement have accused the documentary directors of cherry-picking the evidence to cast it in a light favorable to Avery.
The docuseries shows how prosecutors laid out their case: Halbach’s Toyota RAV4 (which had blood in it, including Avery’s) was found on the Avery family’s lot. Tissue and bone fragments that matched Halbach’s DNA profile were found outside Avery’s mobile home. Avery’s then-16-year-old nephew, Brendan Dassey, confessed to authorities that he had assisted his uncle in raping and killing her.
The docuseries shows how the defense made the case that officers investigating Avery had a conflict of interest and stayed involved after they were ordered to hand over the investigation to a neighboring county. When key pieces of evidence were found by Manitowoc officers involved in Avery’s first case, the defense implied the evidence could have been planted. The defense suggested Avery was framed for the murder of Teresa Halbach amid the pending multi-million lawsuit he filed against Manitowoc County following his exoneration.
Jodi Stachowski, Avery’s ex-fiancee, who can be seen in the docuseries, told HLN’s Nancy Grace she believes Avery killed Teresa Halbach. When asked why she feels that way, Stachowski said:
“Because he threatened to kill me and my family and a friend of mine. I was in a bath, and he threatened to throw a blow dryer in there and told me he’d be able to get away with it,” Stachowski said.
In the docuseries, you’ll see Avery and Stachowski holding hands — and Stachowski defends Avery.
“It was all an act. I — he told me how to act. You know, smile, be happy. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to get hurt. Steven is one person I don’t trust. He’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Stachowski said. “A nice person, semi-nice person and then behind closed doors…he’s a monster. He told me once — excuse my language — ‘all (expletive for females) owe him’ because of the one that sent him to prison the first time. We all owed him — and he could do whatever he wanted.”
Avery’s appeal was written and filed by Avery himself before noted defense attorney Kathleen Zellner took on his case. One of the motions claims a search warrant executed on the property was invalid, meaning evidence from the search should have been inadmissible. The second motion claims a juror pressured others into voting guilty.
The motion seeks a stay of enforcement of the judgment and release on bond. If the court decides to vacate Avery’s conviction based on his claims, prosecutors would have to decide whether to retry him without the impermissible evidence.
Can’t get enough of the Steven Avery story? Check out the Avery Archive at FOX6Now.com.