There are some legal cases that occur at the fault of another individual. A patient hires a trusted medical malpractice attorney when the care they receive causes further damage or other issues. And sometimes a man takes it upon himself to sue the police department and the state that wrongfully imprisoned him for a crime he did not commit. That is the case for Steven Avery, and it is a case that many believe was the beginning on an ongoing legal battle between Avery and the system – and his family. First brought to public attention three years ago via a hit Netflix docuseries (Making a Murderer), the case against Steven Avery and his nephew, Brandon Dassey, continues to gain traction. This is a murder case that has caused the entire world to stop, reassess, and continuously evolve in their initial judgements and idealisations of a case that, ultimately, exists because a young woman lost her life. Some people are under the impression that the case has worn itself out…that surely nothing more than be found or discussed surrounding what has come to feel like the impenetrable sentences of both Avery and his nephew, Dassey.
This is one of the most infamous murder trials and overall cases that has ever been witnessed in the US (perhaps even the world). The series that aired in 2015 quickly gained traction as a must-watch, with millions of viewers tuning in and then seesawing between the belief that Avery is guilty, and Avery is innocent. The Manitowoc County police department has come under fire. And now, a member of Avery and Dassey’s own family is thought to be the true killer. At least, that is what Avery’s current (and ongoing) lawyer believes. The first thing that draw people to this case was Avery’s prior convictions and releases. Not too long before his arrest for the murder of Teresa Halbach, a young photographer, Avery was released from prison for a prior offence it was discovered he never committed.
Avery was initially found guilty and sentenced to prison for the physical attack of a young woman. The young woman in question picked Avery out of a line up following the attack that brutalised her. Years later, new DNA evidence found that Avery was in fact innocent of the crime, and he was released. Not long after his release, Avery was a free man who was on the lookout for compensation for the years taken from him. Namely from the police department that arrested him in the first place, as well as the state that the case took place in. Not long into Avery’s lawsuit, Halbach’s vehicle and parts of her remains were found on his family’s property. What followed was an invasive investigation and a coerced confession from young Dassey, which detailed the brutal details of the crime.
Halbach went missing in 2005. Having last been seen on the Avery property – a wreckage yard – the search for Halbach was largely carried out on the Avery wreckers’ property, which includes their personal homes as well. Partial remains of a body – determined to be Halbach – as well as her vehicle were found on the property. The rest of Halbach’s body was found scattered in the surrounding woodlands. The US legal case captivated the world, and even now it continues to draw in the masses, with more and more letters of support arriving to both Avery and Dassey by the day.
For as long as the case has been ongoing, the law has been a tricky thing to navigate for those involved in the case – on both sides. Defence lawyer Kathleen Zellner is the post-conviction lawyer who has elected herself to take on the Avery case, and she is opening a whole new scale of evidence, miscarriage of justice, and structured theories and points that she believes will see Avery exonerated soon enough (with any luck, Dassey will also be released, following his near-release in 2016 that was overturned at the last minute). The true crime, law docuseries has been an ongoing pillar of debate, but in recent months the conversation has kicked into high gear all over again. After Season Two of the series aired, the world was once again enthralled with the case, and Zellner’s involvement captivated viewers tenfold.
During the series filming, Zellner unpacked the “evidence” from both sides, using scientific research and educated re-enactments to prove the evidence used to put Avery and Dassey away in the first place does not match the story that the case against them details. And just last month, Zellner released a series of tweets to the world that further backed her theory that both men are innocent. Again using scientific research and educated evidence, Zellner says it was not Avery and Dassey, and it was not the police department that put them both behind bars. Zellner has reason (and a lot of it, at that) to believe that Brandon Dassey’s older brother, Bobby, is responsible. It seems that Zellner’s involvement and decision to take the case has breathed new life into it – life that, if up to Zellner, will see Avery’s exoneration.
It was the legal case that captured the attention of the entire world, with viewers tuning in and reaching out to both Avery and Dassey from all over the planet. Steven Avery and young Brandon Dassey are two of the most famous prisoners in American history. The difference between these two men, and countless other famous prisoners in the US prison system, however, is that it is widely believed that these two men are innocent of their crimes, not made famous for the validity of their crimes. Their source of fame? A small Netflix series that caught the entire world’s attention and launched them into global fame – and their case into the hands of Kathleen Zellner, a post-conviction lawyer who has won more wrongful conviction cases than any other private attorney in all of America. While both Avery and Dassey currently sit behind bars, there is more hope surrounding the case than there ever has been, thanks in no small part to the creators of the Netflix series and one Kathleen Zellner. This is not the last we have heard of this legal case – not even close.