Wrongful conviction attorney Kathleen Zellner, who recently jumped on board to defend the subject of the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer, Steven Avery, claims that it’s “fairly obvious” who really killed Teresa Halbach in 2005, and it wasn’t her client.
Yahoo! News reports that Zellner, who boasts a long track record of successfully overturning wrongful convictions, recently spoke with Allison Hope Weiner of TheLipTV. Although Zellner isn’t currently giving interviews on the Avery case, Weiner stated that the attorney did answer a few questions when they went to dinner together. One of those questions included how confident Zellner is in Avery’s innocence.
“She told me she is confident that Mr. Avery’s conviction will be vacated and that the real killer will be exposed.”
Zellner, a nationally-known, high-powered lawyer, gets myriad cases sent to her from people all over the nation who claim to be wrongfully convicted. Since she can’t take on every case, she’s particularly choosey about which clients she will represent. When Weiner asked Zellner why, out of all of the requests, she chose Avery, the lawyer responded.
“I selected the Avery case because I think that there was very blatant police misconduct in planting evidence, and I also think there is a discrimination against the Avery family because of a perception that they were dispensable……Certainly the whole case revolves around that fact that he [Steven Avery] brought a civil rights case, and I think that’s one of the most important developments in all of these wrongful conviction cases is bringing civil rights cases.”
Zellner continued on to say that once she saw evidence that police were singling out Avery because of his pending civil rights lawsuit, she decided to look further into his murder conviction.
“And so when I saw that there was a concerted effort to stop him from bringing that case, showing the police misconduct, that really piqued my interest.”
Avery’s civil rights case stems from a 1985 wrongful conviction, in which he was charged and convicted of rape. Seventeen years later, he was released from prison after DNA evidence showed that he didn’t commit the crime. In 2003, Avery filed a civil rights lawsuit, seeking $36 million in damages, against Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, and its district attorney and sheriff.
Yet, in 2005, while his civil lawsuit was still pending, he was arrested and charged with murdering 25-year-old Teresa Halbach. In 2007, he was convicted of murder and given a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Zellner believes that the motive behind Manitowoc police targeting only Avery and allegedly planting evidence is directly related to his civil rights lawsuit.
Zellner said that civil rights cases are extremely important for wrongful convictions cases that are overturned, because it exposes many of the mistakes, lies, and cover-ups that police made during an investigation.
“Most criminal trials last about a week and there’s a very superficial examination of the evidence. The pre-trial motions deal with the constitutional violations. The reason a civil rights trial is so important is it dissects the criminal trial. The jury becomes incredibly familiar with all of the evidence used to frame someone and then it deals with the entire matter on a constitutional level.”
The lawyer intends to prove that not only are both Steven Avery, and his cousin Brendan Dassey, innocent of murdering Teresa Halbach, but she also intends to make sure that it’s proven so thoroughly that the nation will not have any doubts of their innocence. Although she didn’t name any names, Zellner also vowed to prove who really killed Teresa Halbach and stated that after reviewing the case files, it’s apparent who the real killer is.
Steven Avery remains in prison while Zellner works to get his case overturned, but he told her that he has never felt as hopeful as he does now.
[Photo by Calumet County Jail]