Steven Avery in court.

Steven Avery Responds To Brendan Dassey Coerced Confession Ruling

Steven Avery is “extremely pleased” that the United States Court of Appeals upheld the ruling that his nephew Brendan Dassey’s confession in Teresa Halbach’s murder was coerced, he said via his lawyer Kathleen Zellner.

Zellner visited Avery at the Waupun Correctional Institution Friday morning, a day after the ruling.

“He’s very pleased, extremely pleased, of course,” Zellner told WBAY reporters outside the prison. “When someone is innocent… they are always optimistic.”

Avery isn’t the only one who’s looking on the bright side. Zellner said the ruling only lends credence to what she’s been saying about both post-conviction cases since she became Steven’s lawyer last year.

“It turned out the way I thought it would,” Zellner said of the Dassey ruling. “It’s obvious the confession was involuntary.”

Zellner also commented on why it has taken a decade for Dassey to receive relief. It’s not that Laura Nirider and Steven Drizin are new to the case or the fight to free their client. They’ve been Brendan’s counsel since 2007, and filed two prior unsuccessful motions for a new trial. The reason they failed, Zellner said, lies in the state of Wisconsin.

“The Wisconsin state courts didn’t look the specific qualities of Brendan Dassey–his intellectual limitations,” Zellner said. “They totally missed that, and they wrote a two-paragraph opinion (that), of course, the court was going to reverse.”

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel has since announced that his office will seek an en banc review of the Dassey ruling, which was originally reached last August. If he is unsuccessful, he has the option of bringing his argument to the Supreme Court.

Zellner also talked about her wait for a response to her 1,200-page motion she believes will also result in a vacated verdict. It’s been a long time coming, but she says Avery is confident the evidence will result in just that. And it’s not just any evidence, the Chicago lawyer said. She’s provided affidavits from some of the most noted forensic experts in the world.

She is also accusing the state of four violations based on the Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, a 1963 ruling that requires prosecutors to turn over exculpatory findings that could exonerate defendants.

She says the state hid plenty from Jerome Buting and Dean Strang. The amount of gas in Teresa Halbach’s Toyota RAV4 when it was found, an unedited video of a police flyover of the Avery salvage yard, and a CD containing a voicemail from Teresa Halbach were withheld, she alleges.

The voicemail, Zellner says, flips the state’s timeline. Ken Kratz told the Avery jury that Halbach took a picture of a car at the home of George and JoEllen Zipperer on October 31, 2005, then drove to the Avery property where she was killed later that afternoon.

In the voicemail left for the Zipperers at 2:12 p.m., Teresa tells the couple she would visit them later that day and was proceeding to her next appointment because she couldn’t find their address. The next appointment, Zellner says, was with Steven Avery, who claims Halbach arrived at 2:31 p.m., and left a few minutes after photographing his sister’s van.

Although JoEllen Zipperer was inconsistent about the time Teresa Halbach arrived, Zellner claims wireless records and cell phone data show Teresa left Avery’s and visited the couple after 2:40 p.m. She was likely killed between 3:40 p.m. and 3:50 p.m. at her home in Hilbert, Wisconsin.

The post-conviction lawyer who also represents Ryan Ferguson claims the state withheld evidence that pointed to a more viable suspect, Teresa Halbach’s on-again-off-again boyfriend Ryan Hillegas.

Then there’s the physical evidence found on Avery’s property. Zellner said Friday her findings prove it was planted.

“We can show the blood was planted, the key (to Teresa Halbach’s SUV) was planted (and) the body wasn’t burned in the burn pit,” she said.

Steven Avery is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole. Under terms of Dassey’s initial sentence, he is eligible for early release in 2048. If a motion for bail filed Friday by Nirider and Drizin is granted, he could be released as early as next week.

[Featured Image by Bruce Halmo/AP Images]