Steven Avery to get circuit court hearing on lost bones

MANITOWOC, Wis. (WBAY) - Steven Avery will get another day in court. Defense attorney Kathleen Zellner's appeal over bones given to Teresa Halbach's family will be heard by a circuit court.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals ordered a lower court to hear Zellner's arguments that police transferred bone evidence collected from a Manitowoc County gravel pit to a funeral home, to ultimately be given to Halbach's family (see related story).

Zellner wants to test bones found in the gravel pit to determine if they are Halbach's, which would undermine the prosecution's argument that Halbach was killed and her remains destroyed on Avery's property.

The state says tests on the bones were inconclusive whether they were human or animal bones. Zellner countered, arguing, "The State cannot credibly argue that it returned animal bones to the Halbach family for burial or cremation."

The State objected to the motion, arguing it was a "new and separate action" by Avery's defense delaying the appeals process. The State said Zellner should be required to wait until this appeal is resolved or drop this appeal and pursue the new claim.

The appellate judges felt it's better to put the appeal on hold and deal with this issue now.

In an order dated Monday, February 25, the Court of Appeals wrote,
"Due to this case's extensive history, there is a benefit to having existing claims developed or litigated while they are relatively fresh, rather than positioning the claims to be procedurally barred in a future proceeding," the court wrote. "For these reasons, we desire a ruling on the merits so that all claims to date can be considered in a single appeal."