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Retired WS Staff
Aug 28, 2009
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From the archives
Original coverage of 2007 Steven Avery trial, now featured in Netflix's 'Making a Murderer'

Jan. 20 2007: Judge in Avery case closes evidence hearing
Jan. 30, 2007: 2 Avery charges dismissed
Jan. 31, 2007: Evidence allowed in Avery trial
Feb. 3, 2007: Judge to allow blood comparison
Feb. 4, 2007: Sheriff's agency's role muddies Avery case
Feb. 6, 2007: 9 possible Avery jurors picked
Feb. 8, 2007: 6 are added to Avery jury list
Feb. 9, 2007: Avery jury selection's final phase set for today
Feb. 10, 2007: Avery jurors have industrial, retiree bent
Feb. 12, 2007: Avery trial marks unusual moment in judicial history
Feb. 13, 2007: Steven Avery trial begins
Feb. 14, 2007: Cousin testifies on finding SUV
Feb. 15, 2007: Nephew implicates Avery
Feb. 16, 2007: Testimony unclear on timing of joke
Feb. 17, 2007: Deputies' Avery searches supported
Feb. 20, 2007: Avery trial focuses on care in inquiry
Feb. 21, 2007: No Avery evidence planted, officers say
Feb. 22, 2007: Jurors hear Halbach's phone call
Feb. 23, 2007: Trial focuses on bullet fragments
Feb. 24, 2007: DNA specialist testifies in Avery trial
Feb. 27, 2007: DNA expert's record ripped
March 1, 2007: Experts testify on remains
March 2, 2007: Prosecutors link gun found in room to bullet with Halbach's DNA
March 6, 2007: Planted-blood defense disputed
March 8, 2007: Defense up next in Avery case
March 9, 2007: Witness says she saw victim later
March 10, 2007: Avery experts offer differing views
March 13, 2007: Avery proclaims innocence as defense rests
March 15, 2007: Lawyers make final pitches as Avery trial nears end
March 16, 2007: Avery trial goes to jury
March 18, 2007: Behind the headlines, the personal side of the Avery trial
March 19, 2007: Avery found guilty of killing woman
March 19, 2007: Halbachs back life sentence
June 2, 2007: Avery gets life, no release chance

Car of missing woman Teresa Halbach found
This story was originally publish by the Post-Crescent on Nov. 5, 2005.

Halbach's fate unknown after vehicle located in gravel pit

MISHICOT — Law enforcement officials found the vehicle of a missing St. John woman Saturday in a rural Manitowoc County gravel pit, but were tight-lipped about Teresa Halbach's fate.

The 25-year-old's Toyota RAV4 was found on Steven Avery's property in an area where salvaged vehicles are kept. Avery was convicted in a 1985 sexual assault and exonerated by DNA evidence after spending 18 years in prison.

"We had information that the car was on this property. We got a search warrant and did in fact find the car," said Calumet County Dist. Atty. Kenneth Kratz during a press conference Saturday night at the Mishicot Fire Department.

A DNA test proved Steven Avery innocent of a 1985 crime. Now it points to him as a fiend who savagely raped and murdered Teresa Halbach. Why would he do it?

Manitowoc County is a flat and fertile dairy land a half-hour south of Green Bay, where the horizon is broken only by grain silos and cell phone towers. A large sign along a lonely stretch of State Highway 147 points the way to Avery Auto Salvage. Down the cracked blacktop of Avery Road and past a gravel quarry, there is a ragged cluster of trailer homes and outbuildings, which for decades have served as the offices, garages and living quarters for the Avery family.

At first, the junkyard is hidden from view. But just beyond the main office, the terrain suddenly falls away. Spread out below, packed inside a maze of rutted roads known as “the pit,” are thousands of autos, a boneyard of rusting wrecks that are picked over for salvage.

At the southeast end sits a mechanical car crusher, which provides the final rite for vehicles that have outlived their usefulness. To the north, just off the Avery land, is another encampment – two house trailers, a detached garage and a dirt hollow used for bonfires.

There in the hollow was where investigators discovered the charred remains of a human body. And not far from the car crusher, a blood-spattered SUV was found, half-camouflaged at the edge of the salvage pit.


6 are added to Avery jury list
Selection process slowing down in Manitowoc County killing

Here are some snapshots from the first three days of jury selection:

• Potential juror, a 55-year-old homemaker, on whether she thinks Avery "must have done something" but still must be presumed innocent: "I would put it that way exactly."

• Lead prosecutor Kenneth Kratz in an interview, on selecting jurors who express having no preconceived ideas about Avery's possible guilt: "You absolutely have to take the jurors at their word."


Trial starts Monday in killing of photographer

The jury for Steven Avery's homicide trial is dominated by people who hold blue-collar jobs or don't work, either because they are retired or are homemakers.

There's also a 41-year-old man who describes himself as independently wealthy, retired and as a part-time singer in a rock 'n' roll band.

Perhaps more to the point for Avery, the panel selected Friday includes a man whose son works for the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Department and a man whose wife works for the Manitowoc County clerk of courts office. Avery, 44, is charged with killing 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach.


Avery found guilty of killing woman
Once exonerated of rape, he faces return to prison for mandatory life term

By Tom Kertscher of the Journal Sentinel
March 19, 2007

Steven Avery, who became the public face of efforts in Wisconsin to free wrongly convicted prisoners, was found guilty Sunday of killing Teresa Halbach in a verdict that made American legal history.

Avery is only the second person to be convicted of a serious crime after being freed from prison through DNA testing and the first such person to be subsequently convicted of killing someone, according to the national Innocence Project.

The verdict in the murder of Halbach, a 25-year-old photographer, means Avery, 44, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

The jury, which found Avery guilty of being a felon in possession of a gun in addition to first-degree intentional homicide, acquitted him of mutilating Halbach's corpse.

Avery's attorneys said the homicide and mutilation verdicts appeared inconsistent, and they indicated they would file court motions on that issue in coming weeks.

Opening statements paint two pictures of Dassey
April 17, 2007

Brendan Dassey "stood ready and willing to assist" in the rape and murder of a photographer in 2005, a special prosecutor said Monday, while his defense attorney described Dassey as an impressionable teen who merely helped his uncle clean up.

Dassey, 17, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, mutilating a corpse and first-degree sexual assault in the death of 25-year-old Teresa Halbach on Oct. 31, 2005. His uncle, Steven Avery, 44, was found guilty of her murder last month.

Halbach's parents and four siblings, as well as Dassey's parents, attended Monday's opening statements.

Special prosecutor Ken Kratz said investigators interviewed Dassey on Feb. 27, 2006, but he didn't become a suspect until they spoke to him again a few days later.


Dassey renounces confession
Teen tells jury he fabricated details of Halbach's killing

April 24, 2007

A 17-year-old accused of raping a photographer and helping his uncle kill her told a jury Monday that he lied to investigators and made up details of the crime.

Brendan Dassey calmly recanted a three-hour videotaped confession that he made about a year ago. He testified in his own defense that he made up the story but repeatedly answered "I don't know" when he was asked why.

At one point, Dassey suggested that he got the details from a book he read three or four years ago.


Dassey found guilty of murder
Jury convicts teen of 3 counts in rape, death of Teresa Halbach

By Derrick Nunnally of the Journal Sentinel
April 26, 2007

Eighteen months after Teresa Halbach's family last saw her, a jury confirmed late Wednesday night that learning-disabled teenager Brendan Dassey had helped his uncle Steven Avery brutally murder - then burn - the photographer in a Manitowoc County junkyard.

"We got the verdicts we wanted," said her brother Michael Halbach, who for nearly six weeks of trials in two courthouses had acted as the family's spokesman.

Halbach family members in the courtroom gallery clutched hands when Manitowoc County Circuit Judge Jerome Fox read the verdict: Dassey, 17, was guilty of first-degree intentional homicide, second-degree sexual assault and mutilating a corpse - crimes that could send him to prison for life.


Teen sticks to story in interview
from Manitowoc jail

April 30, 2007


He told The Post-Crescent in a telephone interview from Manitowoc County Jail that he never saw body parts in a bonfire at the home of his uncle, Steven Avery, and he insisted he made up the detailed account of the killing of Teresa Halbach that he gave to investigators in interviews months after the Halloween 2005 murder.

Halbachs back life sentence
Avery 'not giving up' despite conviction, his lawyer says

By Tom Kertscher of the Journal Sentinel
March 19, 2007

Although only 24, Mike Halbach showed unfailing poise with reporters during Steven Avery's five-week trial.

On Sunday, after Avery was found guilty of killing his sister Teresa, Halbach calmly answered questions again. But his voice broke at one point.

Halbach said that, besides the conviction, his family wants Avery to spend the rest of his life in prison.

"I hope we get that," he added, and composed himself again.

Avery faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison, but whether he could become eligible for parole is not yet known, lead prosecutor Kenneth Kratz said. Avery's sentencing date has not been scheduled.


Avery verdict leaves some words unsaid

March 19, 2007

t's a supreme irony.

The man once wrongly imprisoned for a rape he didn't commit, and later celebrated as Wisconsin's most famous innocent man, turns out to be guilty of something even more vile.

There is virtually no doubt now that either of those facts is true.

Ken Kratz, the prosecutor who put Steven Avery away again, made that clear Sunday evening; he said he was "quite certain" the man really was wrongly convicted of rape in 1985.

Steven Avery's appeal denied
Aug 24, 2011


A state appeals court Wednesday denied Steven Avery's attempts to get a new trial on his conviction for the murder of Teresa Halbach.

Avery is serving a life prison term without the chance of parole for the 2005 murder at his family's salvage yard and residence.

Avery cited several arguments in his appeals, including alleging the improper dismissal of a juror and disputing the fact he wasn't allowed to blame anyone else for the murder.

Manitowoc Co. Sheriff and Avery family member speak out

The conversation surrounding the Netflix series "Making a Murder" doesn't show signs of slowing down.

Manitowoc County Sheriff Robert Hermann says the negative national attention isn't what the county was hoping would put them on the map.

"We like to fly under the radar instead of under the microscope, if you will," Hermann said. "But again, we're telling our side of the story."


Who's who in the Steven Avery case: Update

Dismissed Steven Avery Juror Tells PEOPLE Jury Members Were Related to a Local Cop and a County Employee
BY TARA FOWLER 01/05/2016

A juror who was ultimately dismissed from the murder trial of Making a Murderer subject Steven Avery tells PEOPLE that two jurors who convicted Avery were related to Manitowoc County employees.

"After the trial, I found out...[one juror] was the father of a Manitowoc County Sheriff's deputy," the dismissed juror, Richard Mahler, says. "Another juror, his wife works for the Manitowoc County Clerk's Office."

He adds: "I thought to myself, they shouldn't have been on the jury. That was a conflict of interest."

'Making a Murderer,' and the Huge Problem of False Youth Confessions

"The tactics that you see on the interrogation tape are all too common"

BY MOLLY KNEFEL January 8, 2016


Much of the conversation around Making a Murderer, the sensationally popular Netflix documentary series that came out last month, has revolved around the question of guilt or innocence. The filmmakers portrayed a miscarriage of justice at every level, from the police officers who repeatedly showed up to a crime scene they weren't involved with, to the prosecutor who said it "shouldn't matter whether or not" evidence was planted. And while the question of "Did he or didn't he?" is keeping viewers' attention, the real value of Making a Murderer is how it reveals that whether or not Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are guilty, the criminal justice system was not equipped to give them a fair trial.


"The tactics that you see on the [Dassey] interrogation tape are all too common," Dassey's attorney, Laura H. Nirider, tells Rolling Stone. (Nirider is a project director at the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth.) "They were designed originally for seasoned adult criminals, and what you see on the tape is them being used on a 16-year-old with intellectual disabilities. As a result, you see these powerful psychological tactics designed for adults absolutely steamroll Brendan."

'Making a Murderer' sheriff speaks out: I believe justice was served
by Laurie Segall CNN

Manitowoc County Sheriff Robert Hermann is standing by his department's investigation into the case of Steven Avery, a man accused of gruesomely murdering photographer Teresa Halbach.
The case gained national attention following the Netflix (NFLX, Tech30) documentary series "Making a Murderer," which documented the trial closely for years.

"I don't believe that this is a documentary because it leaves out a lot of information," Hermann told CNNMoney.

Pieces of evidence Hermann referenced: Avery's DNA found under the hood latch of Halbach's vehicle and leg irons and handcuffs found in the residence.

Video at link^^^
'Making a Murderer' compelling, but is it a game-changer for Steven Avery?
By Tom Kertscher of the Journal Sentinel Jan.10,2016


Steven Avery addresses Judge Patrick L. Willis during his sentencing June 1, 2007.

About halfway into watching and live tweeting "Making a Murderer," I worried whether we who covered the Steven Avery trial in 2007 had missed something big.

The binge-watchable Netflix series (Is it all people are talking about on social media?) documents, dramatically, the theory that sheriff's deputies in Manitowoc County framed Avery in the murder of Teresa Halbach.

But was what Avery's lawyers presented in his trial as frame-up evidence — when weighed against the DNA-laden evidence against Avery — enough to create reasonable doubt?

It's clear from Internet reaction to "Making A Murderer" that perhaps millions, including hundreds of thousands who signed pardon petitions, disagree with the Avery jury's guilty verdict. There was no such outcry in 2007.


■Two of Wisconsin's top lawyers represented Avery, whose case was helped by a $400,000 settlement he received for the wrongful conviction lawsuit. That isn't to say they could not have missed crucial evidence. But these were veteran, resourceful attorneys, not inexperienced and overburdened public defenders.

■The theories of the prosecution and of Avery's attorneys are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Maybe Avery killed Halbach and deputies planted some of the evidence.

It's worth noting that my history covering the 53-year-old Avery, who is serving a no-parole-possible life sentence, is long. I broke the story in 2003 on how new DNA testing would exonerate him of the sexual assault. I was there when Avery emerged from the prison gates. I sat across a table from him for a couple of interviews. And I was on the other end of the phone when Avery said as he was about to be arrested in Halbach's murder: "I'm going to jail. I can't talk to you no more."
'Making a Murderer': 10 Questions We Still Have
BY JOHN KNEFEL January 7, 2016


From broken-seal blood samples to those deleted voicemails, the Netflix show's top unanswered questions

The 10-part Netflix series Making a Murderer is the latest entry in America's newfound obsession with serialized true crime storytelling, coming on the heels of the hugely popular podcast Serial and HBO's The Jinx. In each case the show ends but the story continues – and questions persist.

1. Who the hell is the international recording artist who was released from the jury?

2. What went on with the jury deliberations?

Why did the defense team for Brendan Dassey seek to further the State's case?

Is there any innocent explanation for the pinprick hole in the vial that held Avery's blood?

5. Has testing for EDTA advanced?

Is it common for defendants to be barred from arguing that someone else did it?

7. What's the story behind the deleted voicemails?

. Why was Halbach's pelvic bone discovered in the quarry?

9. What's going on when Sgt Andrew Colborn called in the read the license plate for Halbach's RAV 4?

10. Who killed Teresa Halbach?
Gov. Scott Walker Says No Pardon for 'Making a Murderer' Subject Steven Avery

Steven Avery, the convicted killer featured in Netflix's "Making a Murderer," won't be pardoned if Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has anything to do about it.

Tens of thousands of people have signed petitions for Avery to be exonerated in the October 2005 killing of Teresa Halbach after the documentary suggested that Avery might have been a stooge for a conspiracy.
What 'Making a Murderer' Reveals About the Justice System and Intellectual Disability
Brendan Dassey's story illustrates how vulnerable people with intellectual disabilities are to injustice at every level
BY LAURA PASSIN January 11, 2016


Brendan Dassey, pictured here in 2007, is said to have an IQ of around 70.

The young man whose confession of a gruesome rape and murder is possibly coerced is described in the series as "learning disabled," "not very smart," and "really stupid" (that, chillingly, is Dassey's self-assessment). When Dassey's mother asks him what he thinks of his defense attorney, Dassey responds that he knows they both like cats.

Dassey's IQ is said to be around 70, in the "borderline" range — the border, that is, of intellectual disability. Despite the vague language used in the show, this is not about academic underperformance. A generation ago, Dassey would have been diagnosed with mild mental retardation. Two generations before that, he would have been — officially, medically — a "moron."
Exclusive: Steven Avery's former fiancée says he's a 'monster'
By Katherine Cavazini & Natisha Lance
Thu January 14, 2016


In an exclusive interview with HLN, Steven Avery’s ex-fiancée Jodi Stachowski, who defended the convicted killer in the Netflix docuseries “Making a Murderer,” reveals why she now believes he is guilty of murder.

Stachowski, who appeared throughout the docuseries, told HLN Avery was abusive throughout their two-year relationship, and threatened to kill her, her family and a friend. She even goes as far as describing Avery as a “monster.”

Even more disturbing, Stachowski says she once ate two boxes of rat poison just so she could go to the hospital and get away from Avery.
'Making a Murderer' Subject's Ex-Fiancee: 'He's Not Innocent'

"I ate two boxes of rat poison just so I could go to the hospital and get away from him," Jodi Stachowski says.

Stachowski also tells Lance that she was directed by Avery to make him look good and that she declined a final interview with the filmmakers last summer before the documentary aired. She said she asked to not be included in the documentary at all.

The interview includes Stachowski discussing Halbach's death, Dassey, whom she thinks is innocent, and she says she was supposed to testify against Avery but was never called upon.

'Making a Murderer' Star Reporter: This Case Should've Been Famous Years Ago

Levy, who now lives and works in Ohio, recently chatted with Rolling Stone about evidence that was left out of the show, why she's surprised it took so long for the case to become a national story, and what it's been like getting all this attention from random people on the Internet.


Rolling Stone
Making a Murderer: Sudbury forensics expert reflects on his testimony at Steven Avery trial
Jan 07, 2016


Dr. Scott Fairgrieve called as defense witness at 'Wisconsin's trial of the century'

On the stand

Fairgrieve characterized the way the prosecution questioned him at trial as something of a game of cat and mouse.

"They said, 'So you didn't actually see the remains' — which is quite true — I saw all the photographs and all the documentation and everything that was disclosed by them, which is supposed to be a complete record. And I said, 'No, I didn't get a chance to go to the scene ... the scene had been so destroyed [by investigators] by the time I would've been there it just — there was no point," said Fairgrieve.

Ultimately, Fairgrieve said in his professional opinion, one could not conclude with perfect certainty that the remains had not been moved.

Ex-Wisconsin Lawmaker Who Championed Avery Bill: Making a Murderer Subject's Arrest for Murder Was 'Deflating'

For two years after DNA evidence cleared Making a Murderer subject Steven Avery of a sexual assault 18 years earlier, Wisconsin assemblyman Mark Gundrum worked hard to restore the freed man's tarnished reputation, even partnering with him to introduce legislative reforms designed to ensure the innocent were never again punished in that state for someone else's crimes.

The day after Teresa Halbach went missing from Manitowoc County, the Gundrum-sponsored "Avery Bill" was unanimously adopted by state lawmakers. Less than two weeks later, Avery was charged with the young photographer's murder.

Now, more than 10 years after the reform package's passage, Avery is back behind bars, serving life for Halbach's death while Gundrum's behind the bench, serving as a judge for the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.



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