“Bad publicity:” Manitowoc prepares for large crowd at Steven Avery, Brendan Dassey rally

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MANITOWOC -- The Netflix documentary "Making A Murderer" is prompting a large rally in Manitowoc on Friday, January 29th in support of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. Avery and Dassey are serving life sentences for the murder of photographer Teresa Halbach.

Steven Avery released from prison in 2003

Steven Avery released from prison in 2003

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, a young photographer whose charred remains were found on his family's auto salvage yard.

Steven Avery and Teresa Halbach

Steven Avery and Teresa Halbach

This case gained national attention following the release of the Netflix docuseries on December 18th.

Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey

Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey

Come Friday morning, the street behind the Manitowoc County Courthouse will be closed -- as at least 100 people are expected to rally in support of the convicted murderer and his nephew.

"To basically peacefully protest at 10:00 a.m., to show our support for Steven and Brendan," said Megan McGuiness, who lives in Minnesota.

McGuiness is one of the organizers of this rally. She spoke with FOX6 News via telephone earlier this week. After viewing the Netflix documentary, she said her goal is to get both men a new trial.

Manitowoc County

Manitowoc County

"Maybe there can be a change in the justice system," said McGuiness.

But Manitowoc residents who followed Avery's 2007 murder trial aren't exactly looking forward to the latest round of outside attention.

"I think the less said about this, the faster it will go away. The documentary, I felt, was biased for the defense. They left a lot of things out," said Jim Dabeck, owner of the Mad Hatter novelty shop.

While the rally is taking place Friday, there will be an effort among downtown business owners to combat the negativity that's come with renewed interest in the case.

"Such bad publicity of Manitowoc," said Rick Couron.

Couron opened "The Hearty Olive," back in September. He's one of several business owners now passing out signs, hoping to plaster downtown Manitowoc with positive messages.

We heart Manitowoc signs

"Great place to raise families. A lot of people move in just for that purpose," said Couron.

Couron is worried Manitowoc is being perceived as the place that sent an innocent man up the river -- twice. He doesn't agree, and has a message for Friday's out-of-towners.

"You don't know the community. You don't know the people. You don't know all the details of what happened," said Couron.

Friday's rally was organized through social media. McGuiness says she got interest from folks as far away as New York and Boston.

Manitowoc police said they were making preparations for the protest.

"Obviously there are a lot of people that feel very passionately about what they've seen on Netflix and if they want to come and exercise their rights they certainly can do that. We're trying to be as accommodating as possible, as we can be. We realize and we respect their First Amendment constitutional right to do what they are doing. There are a lot of people in Manitowoc County that think Steven Avery is right where he needs to be. We've planned for that, so if we do get anti-activists showing up, we are prepared to deal with that." Captain Larry Zimney with the Manitowoc Police Department told WLUK.

Netflix "Making A Murderer"

Netflix "Making A Murderer"

As for Steven Avery, he has obtained new legal counsel, and has filed an appeal of his murder conviction.

Avery on January 7th signed and filed an appeal in the case on his own behalf, and that appeal was received by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals on January 11th.

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 state has opposed Avery's motion for release.  Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Thomas Fallon has issued a letter to Sheboygan County Circuit Judge Angela Sutkiewicz that says in part, "substantial reasons exist for this court to deny Avery's motion."

Chicago lawyer Kathleen Zellner on January 8th announced 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.

She has been posting about the case on Twitter.

Avery has not seen the Netflix docuseries. There is no Netflix in prison, and Avery's request to view the series was denied.

Steven Avery's letter to FOX6's Ted Perry

Steven Avery's letter to FOX6's Ted Perry

Avery late last week sent a letter to FOX6's Ted Perry. CLICK HERE for more on Avery's letter to Ted Perry.

As for Brendan Dassey, late last week it was announced he was quietly moved from Green Bay Correctional facility to Columbia County Correctional.

Can't get enough of the Steven Avery story? Check out the Avery Archive at FOX6Now.com.


  • editor

    You mean they are preparing for a “TACTICAL SITUATION”…. Remember, we start rolling out the word, “Tactical” into the headlines..

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  • Angela Rose-Naber

    You can read the court records which show how the police handled this. Which was completely incorrect. Those officers should have never stepped foot on the Avery’s land. Just because you live there gives you no more incite on this case. Clearly the confession was obtained by two manipulative officers. If you have listen to the tapes, read the court documents and not just watched the one sided news you would know that. Living in the town makes you no more knowledgeable then others. Researching the info will. I have read, researched and listen to both sides which is something one should do in order to come up with a true view.

  • JD

    These locals want to all go away,,,,take the easy path and do nothing. Live in their little false security.
    Its obvious that some evidence was planted and its obvious to everyone the Defense did not get a fair trial.
    The locals should be hoping for Justice and be alarmed that it could happen to them.

  • Mark

    I actually find it humorous that so many people can watch a series clearly biased to sway them in only one direction. They are the definition of sheep. Most likely some of the same white marchers mixed in with the ‘black lives matter’ clowns.

    • russell802208

      The sheep are the ones that believe media reports and are too lazy to research the case for themselves.
      I don’t check the media to get facts but instead I visit all sources to see how accurate each one tells the story.

  • russell802208

    A jury of 12 was right but a jury of 1 million is wrong?
    Tv show/docu drama would not upset this many people if it was based on lies.

    The truth might set 2 free but will show the guilt of many involved.
    Manitowoc needs to be scared because I am sure this is not the only case they setup and now they are being exposed.

    • amy

      Its been a while, but if i m not wrong. Most jurors voted for not guilty(7 or 8) But something happened or the other were strong minded that wouldn’t budged.

  • Jenn

    I have to say, that as much as we saw on Netflix, still media, the city only heard what happened on the news, the media, there as well. The guy in the video says we dont know anything about them, but Steven Avery was in prison for 18 years due to these cops hiding stuff….why in the world would anyone trust these cops? Judge Wilis is in on it too. How do you get the same judge for your appeal? Sorry, but Wisconsin is corrupt! !

    • Matt Kingsbury

      agree Jenn. But I don’t think a rally in Manitowoc is the way to go. I, for one, have pledged not to visit Wisconsin and to not buy anything made in Wisconsin (see buywi.org) until people in power in that state take some action to correct this miscarriage of justice. Please join me.

  • Randy

    I do know many people from this city and i can say many are very rude towards not just adults but many children. I have seen this multiple times and i am always disgusted by their behaivor in manitowoc!

  • Anthony

    Stop turning a blind eye. There is an obvious reason WHY this case has blown up and has become so popular. There are numerous loose ends to the way it was handled and if you question that, maybe you should question why almost a half a million people signed a petition for a new trial for both of these two!!? A lot of these locals have ties to the local police department. (They have friends, family, they volunteer etc..) Of course they don’t want to think something like this could have been in their little “Dawson’s Creek” town. They are secluded and need to step out of the little box they are in.

  • Anthony

    Stop turning a blind eye. There is an obvious reason WHY this case has blown up and has become so popular. There are numerous loose ends to the way it was handled and if you question that, maybe you should question why almost a half a million people signed a petition for a new trial for both of these two!!? A lot of these locals have ties to the local police department. (They have friends, family, they volunteer etc..) Of course they don’t want to think something like this could have been in their little “Dawson’s Creek” town. They are secluded and need to step out of the little box they are in.

  • james franzen

    Moved to Columbia Correctional, where inmates murdered Jeffrey Dahmer with the warden ‘ s okay. Just sayin.
    Alot of light is being she’d on what people in your part of the world really are. Long overdue. Why don’t you guys do some investigative journalism into the Sheboygan cops who are heroin dealing? The Packers don’t play again til July. Be useful.

  • Melody jones

    Since when does Obama care what the Constitution says!!!! He “executive order”s whatever he wants! I do not believe for one second that if the president wanted to free Brendon Dassey he couldn’t. What about gay marriage? That was a state level discussion that he ruled on at a federal level

  • AC

    Avery and Dassey murdered Halbach. Dassey is creepy and a psychopath who could have stopped the murder or called the police but instead joined in with his uncle who sexually abused him.

    What Making a Murderer didn’t tell you

    All blood vials have a hole in the top- it’s how the blood gets in
    The evidence seal on the blood vial’s box was broken in a meeting with Avery’s own lawyers from his wrongful conviction suit
    The FBI did release a report stating the detection levels of their EDTA test
    EDTA testing had been greatly improved since it’s invention, and the test was reliable
    The bullet with Teresa’s DNA on it was linked to Avery’s exact gun (pages 208-209), not just that model
    The process of crushing a car takes hours, requires a lot of preparations and is very noisy. Avery couldn’t have done it without his brothers, who managed the yard and knew what work was supposed to be done, noticing
    Lenk and Colborn were not named in Avery’s lawsuit, and the county was not being sued for $36 mil. Vogel and Kocourek, who had both retired, were named in the suit and being sued for the majority of the money
    It was Kocourek’s personal insurance that was refusing to cover his liability, not Manitowoc County’s
    An underage female relative of Avery’s accused him of sexually assaulting her, but agreed to delay charges when the Halbach case took precedence.
    Teresa’s phone, camera, and PDA were found in a burn barrel on Avery’s property
    Robert Fabian, a friend of Earl Avery’s, testified he smelled burning plastic and saw a fire coming from a burn barrel on October 31 (where Teresa’s electronics were found)
    Avery called Teresa twice on October 31, using *67 to hide his number. He called again at 4:35pm, this time not using *67. At this time, her phone was already off and had presumably been destroyed. Those were the only calls that day he used *67 when dialing.
    Police records show Avery had a history of violence against women, including beating and strangling
    Avery states in the documentary Lori took his kids away from him. In fact, a judge issued a court order barring his kids from seeing him, saying “He has huge anger. He has real potential to harm people, and he’s not dealt with any of that.”
    The DOJ Arson Bureau specialist testified that tires and the van seat used as accelerants in a fire could burn a body within a few hours
    The DOJ Arson Bureau specialist testified that Teresa’s bones were so entwined “inside the wire [of melted tires in Avery’s burn pit], deeply inside of it in some cases […] to the point where I actually had to, physically, pull apart the wire in order to get it there”
    Kayla’s counselor testified Kayla specifically asked them if blood could seep up through concrete, before police knew anything about the garage as a possible crime scene
    The bullet was found on the first thorough search of the garage, and previously they had not even moved equipment out to search under it
    The key was found on the second search of the trailer; the previous entries the documentary claimed were “searches” were: a 10-minute sweep to look for any sign of Teresa alive, an entry to retrieve the guns seen on the initial sweep, an entry to get the serial number from Steven’s computer for use in a warrant, and the crime lab luminol testing the residence.

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