Subject of Netflix hit series hired Kathleen Zellner at the beginning of January
Netflix’s “Making a Murderer” has captivated audiences across America, telling the story of Steven Avery’s murder trial for which he was ultimately convicted. Since hiring Kathleen Zellner, who specializes in wrongful convictions, more and more updates have surfaced about Avery, the case, and Teresa Halbach’s death itself.
While supporters rallied outside of the Manitowoc County Courthouse after Avery wrote a letter from prison last weekend, others are still claiming that Avery is guilty. For example, the Wisconsin Department of Justice is seeking for Avery to be barred from release because he is a “flight risk,” and prosecutor Ken Kratz is looking to write a tell-all book about his involvement in the case.
“Making a Murderer” explores the case of Avery, a Wisconsin man who was imprisoned for sexual assault for 18 years before being exonerated on DNA evidence and released — only to be charged and convicted for the murder of a young woman (Halbach) three years later. Kratz successfully prosecuted Avery for the rape and murder of the photographer, the crime for which Avery is now serving a life sentence.
Since its premiere on Dec. 18, the series has strongly suggested that Avery was framed for the crime by Wisconsin law enforcement.
TheWrap takes a look at the eight recent developments in Avery’s case below.
1. Avery writes two notes from prison
On Jan. 23, Avery sent a lengthy letter proclaiming his innocence from behind bars.
“The real killer is still out there,” Avery wrote. “Who is he stalking now? I am really innocent of this case and that is the truth!!! The truth will set me free!!!!!!!”
In the three-page letter, he addressed accusations made by his former finance Jodi Stachowski, who said she believed he is guilty and claimed to have been abused by him.
Then, on Jan. 29, Zellner tweeted out a picture of a note from Avery, which read, “To my supporters: I want every forensic test possible done because I am innocent.”
2. Supporters protest outside Manitowoc County Courthouse
Supporters of Avery and Brendan Dassey, Avery’s nephew also convicted of the murder of Halbach, protested near the Manitowoc County Courthouse on Jan. 29.
Hundreds were expected to participate in the rally, and although the group didn’t quite hit that quota, protest organizer Megan McGuinness told TheWrap it was a “perfect” protest.
She said that a little more than 100 people attended the rally that took place near the courthouse and then moved to the Sheriff’s Office. Supporters traveled from as far as Texas, Florida and Oregon. The event was live streamed on Periscope drawing hundreds of people online, some from out of the country like Belgium.
3. He apologized to his brothers for claiming they had murdered Halbach
Avery made amends with his brother Earl, and has even apologized for implicating him in the murder of Halbach.
Earl Avery told reporter Stephanie Bauer that he hasn’t seen his older brother in a decade, but in a conversation last week, Steven offered his apologies for suggesting that Earl and their brother Chuck might have been involved in Halbach’s murder.
Earl Avery also leveled a claim that could have implications for his brother’s ongoing bid to claim his innocence. According to Earl, on the night of Oct. 31, 2005 — the date of Halbach’s murder — he drove through the area where her car was eventually located, and there was no sign of it.
4. There was a bomb threat at the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department
A bomb threat was called into the Manitowoc Sheriff’s Department, the same establishment that was at the center of “Making a Murderer,” on Wednesday, Feb. 3.
Authorities say that the caller claimed “there were bombs in the building” and that he was “getting justice” for Steven Avery, the man at the forefront of the series, who was convicted of the murder of Teresa Halbach after being exonerated for a rape he didn’t commit.
Manitowoc law enforcement and the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation are currently working together to backtrack the call to determine the origin and identity of the caller.
5. Investigation Discovery aired a special about the case, revealing new details
Investigation Discovery aired a new special about Steven Avery and the murder of Teresa Halbach last week, revealing new details about the case.
The special claimed that 16 people testified to his whereabouts, saying that Avery could not have been Penny Beernsten’s sexual attacker in 1985, and that all vials of blood have a puncture hole (this was a piece of key evidence that was used to suggest law enforcement had framed Avery), among other revelations.
They also said that new evidence might be coming to help exonerate Avery.
6. Dateline also aired a special about the case
“The State of Wisconsin vs. Steven A. Avery” aired on Jan. 29 on NBC, offering a new look at the Avery case.
The special included a rare 2005 interview with Beerntsen, the victim of the sexual assault case for which Avery was wrongfully convicted. “Dateline” will also feature new interviews with key players in the trials of Avery and his nephew, Dassey.
7. Ken Kratz is writing a tell-all book
Prosecutor Ken Kratz is writing a tell-all book about his involvement in the case, stating that he believes “somebody needs to stand up for the cops, the courts, and the victim by telling the truth and setting forth the vast amount of evidence proving Avery’s guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
Kratz was one of the main characters in the 10-episode true crime series, and obviously a key component in putting the defendants behind bars. But since the case, professional life has been up and down for the former DA.
After the convictions, Kratz was caught sending sexual text messages to a victim in another case that he was prosecuting. When confronted, Kratz resigned as special prosecutor.
8. Avery is a “flight risk” and “has nothing left to lose,” the Wisconsin Department of Justice says
The Wisconsin Department of Justice said that Avery should be barred from release because he’s a flight risk and “has nothing left to lose.”
“Avery no longer enjoys any presumption of innocence,” read a letter to Judge Angela Sutkiewicz on Jan. 22 from Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Thomas Fallon. “He stands convicted of first-degree intentional homicide and possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, and he received a life sentence without possibility of parole. Avery has unsuccessfully tested the validity of his convictions. The State is entitled to insist that he remain imprisoned during the pendency of his current appeal.”
Fallon’s letter goes on to say that there’s a good chance that Avery won’t show up to face the music if he’s let out.
“There is a substantial risk Avery will not appear to answer the judgment following the conclusion of his post-conviction proceedings,” Fallon wrote. “He has nothing left to lose.”