The case of Steven Avery, which has been exhaustively covered in the Netflix docuseries Making a Murderer, is seeing newer developments.
Avery – who previously spent 18 years in prison on a sexual assault charge – was exonerated in 2003 after DNA evidence proved that he had not committed the crime. Thereafter, he sued the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department for $36 million. Two years after his release, he was arrested for the murder of 25 year old photographer Teresa Halbach. Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, was also arrested for acting as his accomplice.
Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, attorneys for Avery during the trial for Halbach’s killing, spoke with the AV Club about the case.
“Steven Avery is done with his appeal and his opportunity in federal court ends,” Strang said, “so the current effort for him by Kathleen Zellner and others working with her would be to gather potential newly discovered evidence to support a motion for a new trial, and that would go back to the original trial court.”
With regard to Dassey, Strang said that he is “waiting in federal district court in Milwaukee on a federal habeas petition, so it’s at the trial level in federal court.”
Cornell Law states that habeas corpus “is used to bring a prisoner or other detainee (e.g. institutionalized mental patient) before the court to determine if the person’s imprisonment or detention is lawful. A habeas petition proceeds as a civil action against the State agent (usually a warden) who holds the defendant in custody.”
When asked whether the cases of Avery and Dassey were “emblematic” of the issues that concern the judicial system, Strang said, “Steven Avery’s case, of course, has a very, very unusual set of historical circumstances to it, but Brendan Dassey’s case is utterly common. The experience of a developmentally delayed young person, mismatched against the police and very manipulative police interviews—that gets repeated in hundreds, if not thousands, of cities all across America every day.”
Meanwhile, Laura Ricciardi, one of the two filmmakers of Making a Murderer, spoke about bringing Avery’s lawyer Kathleen Zellner into the show. She said she and Moira Demos have “been talking to Kathleen Zellner about the potential of filming with her and continuing the story,” as reported by TimeOut London.