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MAKING A MURDERER: Steven Avery asking Wisconsin Supreme Court to review issues raised in appeal

Steven Avery listened to testimony in the courtroom at the Calumet County Courthouse in...
Steven Avery listened to testimony in the courtroom at the Calumet County Courthouse in Chilton, Wis. (Source: AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 10:24 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Steven Avery is asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to review issues raised in his appeal as he seeks an evidentiary hearing and new trial in the murder of Teresa Halbach.

On Aug. 25, Avery attorney Kathleen Zellner filed a petition for review with the state’s high court, arguing for the justices to review three issues--Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, Brady violations, and Destruction of Bone Fragments.

CLICK HERE to read the full petition filed by Zellner.

In July, an appeals court denied Avery an evidentiary hearing, siding with lower court rulings against Avery.

Zellner says the case presents “special and important reasons” justifying a Supreme Court review. The petition claims the guidance of the high court is needed.

A response is due by Sept. 9.

“This Court should apply the standards it has so clearly articulated in past cases and allow Mr. Avery to have an evidentiary hearing on the merits of his allegations of constitutional violations. If his conviction truly has integrity, it will withstand the scrutiny of an evidentiary hearing,” Zellner writes. “Without such scrutiny the question of the integrity and fairness of Mr. Avery’s trial hangs like a dark cloud over the Wisconsin judicial system.”

The petition ends with this conclusion:

“First, Mr. Avery presents this Court with an opportunity to correct the lower courts’ misinterpretations of the pleading standard to obtain an evidentiary hearing on Mr. Avery’s claims.

“Second, Mr. Avery presents this Court with an opportunity to decide whether Mr. Avery has sufficiently alleged Brady claims warranting an evidentiary hearing, or in the alternative, a new trial.

“Third, Mr. Avery presents this Court with the opportunity to fashion a remedy for a state actor’s destruction of evidence in violation of Wis. Stat. § 968.205 and decide whether the violation of the statute is sufficient evidence of “bad faith” to warrant an evidentiary hearing on a Youngblood claim, or in the alternative, grant Mr. Avery a new trial in the interest of justice.

“Petitioner Steven Avery respectfully asks this Court to grant him leave to appeal the issues raised herein.”

In July, a state appeals court ruled against Avery, saying a lower court did not err in denying motions raising claims about evidence and effectiveness of Avery’s trial attorneys. Avery also wanted to hearing to introduce evidence of a third party suspect. Documents filed by the defense point a finger at Avery’s nephew Bobby Dassey.

A signed affidavit includes the testimony of Thomas Sowinski, a former driver for Gannett Newspapers. He delivered papers to the Avery Salvage Yard in the morning hours of November 5, 2005. Sowinski says he witnessed Bobby Dassey, and an older man “suspiciously pushing a dark blue RAV-4 down Avery Road towards the junkyard.”

Sowinski says he delivered papers to the Avery mailbox and turned around toward the exit. He says Bobby Dassey “attempted to step in front of his car to block him from leaving the property.”

The motion reads, “After Mr. Sowinski learned that Teresa Halbach’s car was found later in the day on November 5, 2005, he realized the significance of what he had observed and immediately contacted the Manitowoc Sheriff’s Office and spoke to a female officer, reporting everything he has stated in his affidavit. The Officer said, ‘We already know who did it.’”

Steven Avery is serving a life sentence for 1st Degree Intentional Homicide. The case received new notoriety after the release of the 2015 Netflix documentary series “Making A Murderer.”

Avery’s other nephew, Brendan Dassey, was also convicted of killing Halbach. He will be able to ask for parole in 2048. Dassey appealed his conviction up to the United States Supreme Court. The justices declined to hear his case. Dassey’s attorneys are now asking Gov. Tony Evers to consider clemency or early release. They argue Dassey’s confession to the crime was coerced by detectives. Dassey was 16 at the time of his confession and considered to be low IQ. CLICK HERE for more on the Brendan Dassey request for clemency.

“Brendan Dassey was a sixteen-year-old, intellectually disabled child when he was taken from his school and subjected to a uniquely and profoundly flawed legal process. That process rightly sought justice for Teresa Halbach, but it wrongly took a confused child’s freedom in payment for her loss. Such a debt can never be justly repaid with the currency of innocence,” reads the clemency petition.

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