Since she took over his case in January, Zellner has been working hard to poke holes in the prosecution’s case, citing the inadequacy of existing evidence, and questioning why further investigation hasn’t been conducted into other suspects. Zellner is known for successfully fighting wrongful convictions, and has at least 16 under her belt.
Netflix’s Making a Murderer is a 10-part documentary series that follows the case of 53-year-old Wisconsin native Avery. He is serving a life sentence (without the possibility for parole) for the murder of Teresa Halbach and illegally possessing a firearm. Avery, who had previously been jailed for 18 years for a sexual assault in 1985, was exonerated in that case by newly discovered DNA evidence in 2003.
Two years later, Avery brought a US$36-million lawsuit against Manitowoc County, Wis., for the wrongful conviction. Making a Murderer calls into question the investigation and trial that put Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, behind bars, and alleges that the investigators and police in the case planted evidence and otherwise manipulated the outcome of the trial.
In a rare interview with TheLipTV (other than social media, Zellner has been tight-lipped with press), she explained what compelled her to take the case, saying that she “intends to prove” who killed Teresa Halbach, and that it’s “fairly obvious” who did it if you review the evidence in the criminal case.
“It’s the evidence,” she asserted to TheLipTV. “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. 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.”
Zellner has also reportedly bought a Toyota RAV 4 (the exact same make and model of Halbach’s car, which was discovered on Avery’s property conspicuously covered up), with the intention of studying the vehicle to see what role it plays in the murder investigation.
“We are continuing to examine every aspect of Mr. Avery’s case and all of his legal options,” Zellner said in a statement. “We are confident Mr. Avery’s conviction will be vacated when we present the new evidence and results of our work to the appropriate court.”
In recent reports related to the Avery case, ex-FBI cold-case expert John Cameron asserted that the Halbach murder has all the earmarks of infamous serial killer Edward Wayne Edwards, and Avery is being framed.
Over 400,000 people have signed online petitions to see Avery freed or pardoned.
In early February, Manitowoc County asked for more time to gather documents related to Avery’s case, as he seeks a new trial. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals has granted the request, and the county has until Mar. 2, 2016 to comply.