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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Steven Avery’s lawyer has new evidence she claims could exonerate him

Photo: Netflix
Photo: Netflix

Some things will never stop: Seasons change, the Earth revolves around the sun, and Steven Avery is still trying to clear his name.


The ongoing legal battle stemming from the events depicted in Netflix’s Making A Murderer has a new wrinkle, as Avery’s lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, filed a motion asking the court to reconsider its stance on the basis of new and compelling evidence. Earlier this month, the court struck down Zellner’s attempt to secure a retrial for Avery, saying the defense had failed to establish any grounds for a new trial. But as Newsweek reports, part of the new 54-page document filed yesterday is a number of key points that could help sway the court’s opinion. To wit:

  • Zellner claims the original trial ignored a crucial statement from Bobby Dassey’s older brother, Bryan, who told officials back in 2005 that Bobby had said he saw victim Teresa Halbach leaving Avery’s property. This contradicts what Bobby said at the trial, which was that he last saw Halbach walking toward Avery’s trailer. (Bryan also more recently reiterated this point: “I distinctly remember Bobby telling me, ‘Steven could not have killed her because I saw her leave the property on October 31, 2005.’”)
  • A new witness has said they saw Halbach’s RAV4 parked away from Avery’s property in the day before it was found on the grounds, which would refute the claim Halbach’s vehicle never left Avery’s property after she first arrived.
  • The Dasseys’ home computer contained “images of Ms. Halbach, many images of violent pornography involving young females being raped and tortured, and images of injuries to females, including a decapitated head, bloodied torso, a bloody head injury and a mutilated body.” These images were supposedly accessed at times only Bobby Dassey was at home.
  • Halbach’s ex-boyfriend Ryan Hillegas was in possession of her day planner, a planner the defense argues Halbach had with her the day she died. If so, that would connect Hillegas to the crime scene.
  • The fragment of a bullet found in Avery’s garage—one that allegedly entered and exited Halbach’s skull—underwent forensic testing that showed “no particles consistent with bone.”
  • Finally, the DNA of Steven Avery that was found on the hood latch of Halbach’s car, which was one of the prosecution’s key pieces of evidence, allegedly also underwent forensic tests. These tests revealed that Avery would’ve “had to have tried to open the latch around 90 times” in order to leave the amount of DNA the crime lab says was found on the car.

Obviously, some of these elements are more convincing than others. Of course, anyone skeptical of this enterprise can always refer to the evidence in the prosecution’s favor that Making A Murderer ignored, but even so, it’s hard to shake the feeling that there’s something far more complicated going on here, lent further weight by the overturning of Brendan Dassey’s conviction.

Alex McLevy is a writer and editor at The A.V. Club, and would kindly appreciate additional videos of robots failing to accomplish basic tasks.