Wrongful conviction attorney Kathleen Zellner is not only hoping to get Making a Murderer's Steven Avery out of prison, but she's also going after the people who she thinks framed her client.
Newsweek reports Zellner, who took on the Avery case earlier this year, admitted that watching the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer made her angry because she felt that the Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, police officers and prosecutors involved in the case treated her client as if he were a non-factor, a piece of disposable trash.
"When I watched the Avery case, I felt that the attitude toward him by the prosecutors and the state was that he was disposable. It was almost like a class thing. [His family] didn't matter, they had no power. The longer I watched it, the more angry I got."Making a Murderer chronicles the murder of 25-year-old freelance photographer Teresa Halbach, who visited Avery's property on the last day she was seen alive in 2005. Authorities found Halbach's vehicle hidden on Avery's property, an auto salvage yard that spans numerous miles. Avery is now serving a life sentence in prison for Halbach's murder.
Yet, it wasn't the documentary alone that convinced Zellner of taking on Avery's case. As much as the film angers the lawyer, she refuses to represent any client if she feels they are guilty. Although she's a successful wrongful conviction attorney who's helped exonerate dozens of innocent people, a case that still haunts her is one that she took on for Larry Eyler, a house painter convicted of killing and dismembering a 15-year-old prostitute.While trying to get Eyler off of death row, she built a close relationship with him, so close that the former painter admitted to her, in detail, of not only how he killed the 15-year-old old, but how he carried out numerous other murders. It would become a mistake that she vowed would never happen again.
After she met Avery, she knew within the hour of talking to him that he was innocent. Now, she's not only set on getting him out of prison, but she's also determined to bring down the people she feels framed him. She specifically named the Manitowoc police, who she thinks planted evidence on Avery's property. The attorney hopes to find physical clues they behind to prove her theory.
"If you think of the concept of using your opponent's strength against them, it's kind of similar to a lot of the stuff I've done. They used forensic science to convict [Avery], and I'd be using it to convict them of planting the evidence."Part of the planted evidence, at least according to Avery supporters who've been endlessly researching the case, is the blood found under the hood of Halbach's Toyota RAV4. Supporters contend that police took blood from a 1985 blood vial collected from Avery after he was accused of rape, a crime that he was eventually cleared of after serving 18 years in prison, and planted it to use against him.
Others have already been warned not to underestimate Zellner. Robert smith, a Illinois-based attorney, said that not only is Zellner highly intelligent, she's also highly skilled.
"She's smart as the dickens and skilled, skilled, skilled. She makes use of all 52 cards and both jokers if you're in the courtroom with her."In the meantime, Zellner continues to visit Steven Avery at the Waupun Correctional Facility, in Waupun, Wisconsin. She said that with each visit, Avery feels more confident that his exoneration is on the way.
[Photo by A/Don Shrubshell, Pool]