Chicago lawyer Kathleen Zellner, who claims she will free Making a Murderer subject Steven Avery, says Teresa Halbach’s ex-boyfriend is the one who killed her, she alleged in a multi-page petition filed Wednesday, June 7.
As of this report, the 1,000-page document has not been scanned into the court electronic filing system, although the Inquisitr has obtained 220 pages of the petition.
Zellner also claims Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz, who prosecuted Avery and nephew Brendan Dassey, knew Avery did not commit the crime. She alleges that the state destroyed evidence, namely an answering machine tape that proved Avery’s salvage yard was not Halbach’s last stop before she was killed.
Avery has long contended he was framed, and that deputies in the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department planted evidence against him, as depicted in the 2015 Netflix docu-series.
Zellner alleges Halbach’s ex-boyfriend, Ryan Hillegas, maintained a romantic interest in her even after they had broken up. The lawyer’s petition says Hillegas pursued Teresa after she began a sexual relationship with her roommate Scott Bloedorn. But that is not all Zellner says about Halbach’s ex.
“Reportedly, Mr. Bloedorn was also Mr. Hillegas’ best friend,” the petition says. “Mr. Hillegas committed perjury at trial when he described Ms. Halbach’s relationship with Mr. Bloedorn as platonic and never romantic or sexual in nature.”
Hillegas also had no alibi for Oct. 31, 2005, the day Halbach was killed.
Zellner says a post-conviction investigator attempted to interview Bloedorn about statements he made to police in 2005, but he refused to talk. That all changed when the investigator revealed Zellner planned to announce an alternative suspect in the Avery case.
“Mr. Bloedorn immediately blurted out, ‘You mean Ryan Hillegas,'” Zellner’s petition alleges.
Halbach was also involved in taking a series of nude photographs of a married couple, and later began an affair with the husband, a man Zellner says is Bradley Czech, who admitted to the tryst. The nude photos of the couple were found in Halbach’s apartment before her remains were found.
Injuries to Hillegas’ hands, seen in Making a Murderer, are also connected with the crime, Zellner’s petition claims. It has been widely speculated that Hillegas received the cuts during a struggle with Halbach.
Zellner claims because Kratz did not need to establish motive per Wisconsin law, police did not spend any time looking into why Halbach was killed. The reason is clear, she says. Jealousy was the motive.
As for planted evidence, Zellner says Hillegas was involved in that, too. She said it was no coincidence that he spearheaded the public search that resulted in the discovery of Teresa’s Toyota RAV4 on the Avery property. She claims Hillegas took part in other searches, identifying himself as “Ryan Kilgus.”
Zellner said he likely led law enforcement into the Avery salvage yard before the RAV4 was found, alluding to the theory that the discovery was staged.
Avery maintains that he and his brother saw car lights on their property days before the RAV4 was found, and told police it could have been when the killer planted the SUV near his car crusher.
Evidence Proves Avery Is Innocent
Evidence sent for testing last year included blood found in the Toyota as well as bullet fragments containing Teresa’s DNA and Avery’s DNA taken from the hood latch. Kratz claimed at trial that Avery left his DNA via his sweat when he touched the latch in the process of unhooking the battery. Zellner claims that while the swab contains her client’s DNA, forensic testing shows it could not have come from where the state alleges.
“Mr. Avery’s groin swab had been substituted for the hood latch swab by law enforcement,” she alleges.
And that’s not all, she said. She alleges the Toyota key found in Avery’s bedroom was planted by Manitowoc County officers James Lenk and Andrew Colburn, an allegation made in the documentary. Both officers deny planting the key.
Avery’s trial lawyers Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, along with his first post-conviction counsel Suzanne Hagopian and Martha Askins, were also named in Wednesday’s petition.
“(They) were ineffective in failing to hire the experts needed to establish that all of the evidence used by the state to convict Mr. Avery was planted or fabricated,” the document said.
Ballistics data and fire evidence was also not properly challenged by Avery’s former lawyers, Zellner says. But had it been investigated, she said, it would have shown it didn’t match the state’s theory of who killed Teresa Halbach.
Still Behind Bars
Avery claims police planted evidence to help the county get out of paying a $36 million lawsuit he filed in response to a 1985 rape conviction for which he served 18 years in prison. Avery settled the suit for $400,000, money that paid for his criminal defense.
When she filed the petition, Zellner tweeted a picture of the number 10,909, the number of days she says Avery has been locked up for crimes he did not commit. As of Wednesday evening, the photo is her Twitter profile picture. She is requesting Avery’s released based on the findings of the recent scientific tests. If the court rejects the motion for immediate release, Zellner says he is entitled to a new trial.
Avery is currently serving life in prison without parole. Brendan Dassey’s life sentence has been vacated, although he remains behind bars as the State of Wisconsin appeals the ruling.
Dassey’s attorneys claimed the confession he gave to police in 2006 was coerced and that his right to a fair trial was violated.
[Featured Image by Don Shrubshell/AP Images]