A lawyer representing an inmate featured in the documentary Making a Murderer has collected a new DNA sample as part of her effort to have his conviction overturned.
As Kathleen Zellner launches what has become a very public defence of Steven Avery, she has revealed that she visited her client at the Waupun Correctional Institution in Wisconsin. In a post on Twitter, she said she had gathered a fresh sample of DNA.
“Collected samples for new tests. The inevitable is coming–he was smiling so were we,” she wrote.
Avery made international headlines when his story became the subject of a Netflix documentary that was broadcast late last year. It revealed how the 53-year had been wrongly convicted of a rape and served 18 years in jail.
It also told how, as he sued the Manitowoc County and its sheriff for $36m in damages for wrongful conviction, he was accused of the murder of a young photographer, Teresa Halbach.
In 2007, he and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, were convicted of the murder of Ms Halbach and given life sentences, despite the pair continuing to protest their innocence.
In January, after the documentary secured a huge viewership, it was announced that Avery had obtained a new legal team, led by Ms Zellner and the Midwest Innocence Project. The lawyers soon filed a fresh appeal, seeking a new trial, and Ms Zellner began tweeting updates of her work, and attacking the prosecution case, lead by Ken Kratz.
For all her public comments on social media, Ms Zellner has appeared less keen to speak directly to the media. However, this week she gave a rare interview to TheLipTV in which she said she believed the case against her client was slight and that it was “obvious” who the real killer was.
“It’s the evidence,” she said. “In having had a number of these cases, it has the signature of a wrongful conviction case. They only focused on him. They did not look at a lot of other suspects, certainly some very key people they should have been looking at.”
Timeline: Steven Avery's convictions
Timeline: Steven Avery's convictions
1/5 1985: Steven Avery is falsely convicted of raping a Penny Beernsten
She was jogging along the shore of Lake Michigan when she was threatened with a knife and attacked. Ms Beernsten identified Avery as her rapist from a line-up that did not include the actual attacker.
2/5 2003: Conviction overturned
Avery's 32-year prison sentence was overturned after DNA testing by the Wisconsin Innocence Project proved his innocence and found a hair from Gregory Allen. He was convicted of the rape and Avery was released.
3/5 2004: Avery files federal lawsuit against Manitowoc County police
A Wisconsin Department of Justice investigation found police had committed no criminal offences or ethics violations, sparking a lawsuit from Avery seeking $36 million compensation.
4/5 2005: Avery is arrested for Teresa Halbach's murder
His Avery Auto Salvage business was the freelance photographer's last appointment of 31 October. She was reported missing four days later and police later found her car, bones, teeth and belongings at the site. Avery pleaded not guilty but was sentenced to life in prison in 2007.
5/5 201: Netflix releases Making a Murderer
The 10-episode documentary came after Avery's conviction was upheld in a 2011 appeal.
She added: “There was a very poor investigation done of the victim’s background, who she was involved with, the circumstances of her life. It had all of the hallmarks of a wrongful conviction case.”
Last month, Ms Zellner also gave an insight into her hope that advances in forensic testing could help her client.
“Since 2007 there have been significant advances in forensic testing and so clearly we’re going, the clearest way to do this is with scientific testing and that’s what we will be asking to do,” she said.
Earlier this month, Manitowoc County asked for more time to gather documents related to Avery’s case, as he seeks a new trial. The request was granted by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and the county now has until March 2 to comply.