Steven Avery, who is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of Teresa Halbach chronicled in Netflix’s “Making a Murderer,” not only stands by his innocence — he believes various family members may have killed the AutoTrader photographer.
In a 2009 court filing obtained by TheWrap, Avery said that brothers Charles and Earl Avery, as well as nephew Bobby Dassey and brother-in-law Scott Tadych, had motive and means to kill Halbach.
In the 59-page court document, Avery’s attorneys listed various reasons for his suspicion, including previous criminal records of the family members, knowledge that Halbach would be on the property on the given day, and desire to frame Avery for the crime.
For example, the document alleges that Charles Avery has had a history of assault against women, including clients who visited the Avery Salvage Yard. The filing also states that Charles had a reason to “frame Steven over money, a share of the family business, and over Jodi Stachowski,” Steven’s former girlfriend.
The document implies the same for Earl Avery, who had been charged with sexually assaulting his two daughters in 1995. According to the document, Earl admitted to driving his golf cart past Halbach’s car where it was found on the salvage yard, and told police that he is willing to give “any information incriminating to Steven, saying that ‘even if my brother did something, I would tell.’” [sic]
“Making a Murderer” investigates Steven Avery’s troubled history with law enforcement in his native Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. After DNA evidence exonerated him of a rape charge that put Avery behind bars for 18 years, he was received a life sentence for allegedly killing photographer Teresa Halbach in 2005.
Brendan Dassey, Steven Avery’s nephew, was also convicted for his involvement in the same case. The series highlights flaws in the investigation and prosecution of the murder cases.
Bobby Dassey, Brendan’s brother, allegedly had reason to frame Steven. The document says that “Bobby stated that Steven would lie in order to ‘stab ya in the back, and that Steven had done this to him in the past.” Moreover, the filing claims that “Bobby’s explanation of his movements on Oct. 31, 2005, is also suspicious,” and that he had scratches on his back that he claimed came from a puppy.
The document reveals that Tadych’s “motive to kill Ms. Halbach is his violent and volatile personality,” and “previous experiences with the court system show him to be a violent and impulsive person, particularly towards women.” For example, he was charged with criminal trespass and battery in Manitowoc County in 1994. Tadych was dating Brendan Dassey’s mother, Barb Janda, who lived next door to Steven Avery.
The introduction of the court filing reads that during Avery’s trial, “the defense sought to introduce evidence that other persons may have been responsible for Teresa Halbach’s murder. The parties briefed whether such evidence was admissible under State v. Denny, and the court ruled that the defense would be barred from presenting evidence that a person other than Brendan Dassey was responsible for the crimes.”
Avery said that he was entitled to argue that other people may have been responsible for the murder, and argued that Denny is inapplicable in his case.
In State v. Denny, the defendant was charged with homicide and “sought to introduce evidence that he had no motive to kill the victim, but that ‘any one of a number of third parties had motive and opportunity’ to kill the victim in this case.” The court denied Denny the presentation of evidence that others may have committed the crime, deeming it irrelevant.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.