MANITOWOC COUNTY — Steven Avery has filed an appeal — asking a judge to throw out his conviction for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach. Avery wants to be released from prison while the Wisconsin Court of Appeals considers his latest challenge to his 2007 murder conviction.
The appeal was signed by Avery on January 7th. It was received by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals on Monday, January 11th.
Avery has filed two motions alleging violations of due process rights in his prosecution for the rape and murder of Halbach. 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.
According to the court documents, Avery says the jurors were tainted, because one juror made repeated comments that he was “(expletive) guilty.”
Avery says the juror in question also told the other jurors, “If you can’t handle it, why don’t you tell them [the judge] and just leave.”
The new legal documents show Avery claims the search that ultimately produced incriminating evidence against him — including his blood in Halbach’s vehicle, and the key to Halbach’s vehicle which was located in Avery’s bedroom was illegal.
The documents indicate Avery feels the scope of the search exceeded the limits set by the search warrant itself.
The documents show Avery is claiming Halbach’s vehicle wasn’t property sealed with tamper-proof tape — allowing officers to open and close the doors and plant evidence inside that vehicle.
Avery filed the documents himself. The documents indicate Avery feels his lawyer incompetently represented him in this case.
Avery is asking the Wisconsin Court of Appeals to declare a mistrial. 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.
Prosecutors laid out their case during Avery’s trial: 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 Halbach.
READ IT: Appeal motion filed by Steven Avery with Wisconsin Court of Appeals. NOTE: There is some strong language included in these documents.
Avery and Dassey are each serving life sentences for the murder.
There is currently a federal habeas petition alleging that Dassey’s constitutional rights were violated and it requests that his conviction be vacated.
Avery wrote and filed his appeal before noted defense attorney Kathleen Zellner took on his case.
On Monday, January 11th, FOX6 News obtained a statement from Zellner, who indicated she feels confident her client’s conviction will be vacated.
Zellner said on Friday she is teaming up with the Midwest Innocence Project. The Law Firm of Kathleen T. Zellner and Associates has assumed representation of Avery in all of his pending criminal matters.
Zellner said in a statement to FOX6 News on Monday she is not doing interviews about this case right now — and that they are examining Avery’s legal options.
Zellner said they will present new evidence to “the appropriate court.”
Ken Kratz, who was the Calumet County district attorney and the lead prosecutor in the case, shared his thoughts with WBAY.
“I’m disappointed that Mr. Avery’s appellate lawyers are allowing him to continue to file pleadings with the court on his own — that’s what lawyers are hired to do,” he said. “And this appears to be an example of Mr. Avery doing exactly what he wants to and when he wants to do it.”
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 Halbach, whose charred remains were found on his family’s auto salvage yard.
Avery is the subject of a popular new docuseries on Netflix called “Making A Murderer.”
The docuseries shows how Avery’s defense makes 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.
Avery’s defense also implied key pieces of evidence in this case could have been planted, and that Avery was framed.
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 Netflix docuseries was released on December 18th — and since its release, there have been calls for Avery and Dassey’s release.
The only person who could issue a pardon in this case is Governor Scott Walker. Walker has said he will not do so.