When Making A Murder captivated the public nearly 3-years-ago, the potential for a follow-up was clear to see. Due in part to its remarkable popularity, that potential became reality with the release of the second installment of 10 episodes hitting Netflix last month.
While waiting close to 3 years to be updated on your favourite documentary might be considered torture for many, the reality is there’s no need to wait.
Steven Avery’s post-conviction attorney, Kathleen Zellner, took to Twitter to reveal her latest findings and theories relating to the murder of Teresa Halbach back in 2005. What added to Zellner’s revelations, was her invitation to answer questions—for approximately 30 minutes following—from interested parties.
Prior to questions being taken, Avery’s attorney tweeted 19 bullet-point statements —not covered in MaM2—detailing events leading up to, and following Halbach’s disappearance on Oct. 31st, 2005.
Of note were Zellner’s assertions that Avery’s brother-in-law, Scott Tadych visited the Avery Salvage Yard (ASY) at ‘around noon,’ despite his claims to the contrary.
Tadych’s changing story, via multiple police interviews, has raised doubts over its validity. Interviewed twice in the month following Halbach’s disappearance, Tadych contradicted himself regarding his whereabouts, and whether he worked on the day of Oct. 31st, or visited his mother in hospital after she had surgery that same morning.
Further tweets claimed that after Halbach had contacted the Dassey’s landline—leaving a voicemail asking for directions—Zellner’s ‘suspect’ contacted her back with the address. Halbach phoned the Dassey landline at 11.43am, and although her cell phone records indicate no call back from the Dassey home number, Zellner was quick to point out that proof of her ‘suspect'[s] doing so was “not restricted to a call log.” Indeed, the potential for an address to be sent via some other medium is certainly feasible, a point highlighted by her response to a question relating to how communication occurred between Halbach and Zellner’s suspect.
Tweets drawing attention to witnesses seeing Halbach’s Toyota Rav4 leaving the ASY, along with ‘recent investigations show[ing] the Rav4 battery died,’ and that ‘it was replaced in order to move [it] to the ASY’ after being left at a nearby highway turnoff prior to its discovery, have raised yet more questions as to the validity of the state’s narrative used to convict Avery by exposing their key witnesses testimony at trial to be false.
For the full list of 19 key points that Zellner has learned through her investigation since the second instalment of Making a Murderer, and the entirity of her Q&A session please visit: https://twitter.com/ZellnerLaw
The timing of Zellner’s sharing of new information re her investigation of Avery’s case fell neatly between the release of MaM2 and her next filing in court, due Dec. 20th.
The filing, with the Court of Appeals in Wisconsin (COA), will likely expand upon Zellner’s assertions presented on twitter via a variety of sworn affidavits, scientific testing, and documentation refuting testimony given by key witnesses, prior, during, and after Avery’s trial.
Zellner’s aim—as has been since she took on Avery’s post-conviction case nearly 3-years-ago—is for her client to receive a new trial. With the appeals process beginning at the circuit court level, Zellner’s progress has been stymied due to the unwillingness of Circuit Court Judge Angela Sutkiewicz to consider evidence presented that rubbishes both state, and key witnesses version of events.
Within Sutkiewicz’s jurisdiction was the granting of an Evidentiary hearing—commonplace in cases where potentially key evidence of an exculpatory nature were not presented at a defendant’s trial—for Avery. Her denial, has lead to Zellner’s forthcoming brief with the COA.
While the COA is not a fact finding court, and will not consider Zellner’s findings, it is within their jurisdiction to remand the case back to the trial court for such a hearing in order to do so.
Whether Zellner can ‘solve’ who murdered Teresa Halbach remains to be seen. Indeed, as Zellner has made clear on more than one occasion, it is not her job to do so, but rather law enforcement’s—to which they ‘failed miserably’. What is likely more pertinent to Avery however, is his attorney continuing to prove that the state’s narrative presented at trial was impossible, and that their key witnesses who helped bolster that narrative, committed perjury on the stand.
Back in August of last year, Calumet County Sheriff’s Department began a ‘follow-up investigation regarding the Halbach murder,’ due to ‘allegations or questions raised in several filings of Steven Avery’s current defence attorney, Kathleen Zellner.’ The investigation—conducted by John Dedering, who investigated Halbach’s murder in 2005/6—was most notable for the questions it did not ask rather than those that it did.
With Zellner’s latest revelations, the prospect of further ‘investigations’ taking place by one of the officers originally involved in the case against Avery seems likely, yet just as likely looms the prospect of that investigation—as Zellner herself offered—being ‘lame.’
And therein lies the rub.
As Avery’s appeal plays out through the courts over the coming months, and potentially years, how far up the legal ladder will Zellner need to climb before the ‘right’ questions are heard? After all, if Avery’s appeal is viewed favourably and remanded back to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing by the COA, it will be the trial court itself that conducts proceedings.
Evidentiary hearings are held at the court where the original trial took place, with the finder of fact during such hearings reserved for the presiding judge rather than jurors— as is the case at most trials . Predominantly, the judge presiding will be the same as that who oversaw the original trial due to their knowledge of past proceedings. At Avery’s trial, judge Patrick Willis presided, yet his retirement in 2012, lead to Angela Sutkiewicz taking over ruling on his appeals process at the trial court level.
With authorities at a local level—law enforcement and the circuit court—evidently not interested in either asking the relevant questions, or having those questions heard via a hearing, it will firstly come down to the COA to address their reluctance to do so. The COA’ ruling on Zellner’s impending brief looks set to offer how ‘local’ corruption regarding Avery’s case is harboured.
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