Twenty-five-year-old Wisconsin photographer Teresa Halbach was not shot in the head with a gun recovered from Making a Murderer subject Steven Avery’s trailer back in 2005, his lawyer states in a petition for a new trial.
Zellner, who became Avery’s lawyer in 2016, filed the petition on Wednesday, June 7. It contained results of forensic testing she ordered last year.
Among items tested was a bullet containing Teresa Halbach’s DNA former Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz said entered her skull. Zellner said in the multi-page petition that science tells a different story that the bullet never went through bone.
“The State’s theory that Ms. Halbach’s cause of death was the result of being shot in the head with a.22 caliber long rifle bullet is completely disproven by Dr. (Christopher) Palenik’s testing,” Zellner said in the petition.
Palenik, of Microtrace LLC, a laboratory in Elgin, Illinois, and has done work in some of the world’s most high-profile cases, such as the killing of Jon Benet Ramsey, the Atlanta Child Murders, Green River Killings, Oklahoma City Bombing, and the kidnapping of DEA Special Agent Kiki Camarena in Mexico.
The bullet that supposedly entered Halbach’s head was damaged by something, however. According to forensic test results, it hit a piece of manufactured wood, not a human cranium. And before the projectile came to rest in the garage, it was contaminated with a red liquid, possibly paint.
Criminalist Lucien Haag also examined it and came to a conclusion equally striking as Palenik’s. Zellner said Haag, who specializes in reconstructing shooting scenes, is prepared to testify that had the bullet traveled into Halbach’s skull, it would have contained embedded fragments of bone, which were not present.
Alleged Story Change
Not only does Zellner allege that the bullet recovered did not kill Teresa Halbach, she said the shooting theory was something Kratz concocted because of holes in the initial timeline of how the crime took place. Halbach’s DNA was never found inside Avery’s trailer; no evidence of a sexual assault or homicide was present. The state had nothing linking Avery to Halbach, other than a copy of Auto Trader and his statement that she had been to his property that day. The initial theory failed to link her to Brendan Dassey, too.
“Mr. Kratz, recognizing a plot flaw in having no forensic evidence placing Ms. Halbach in Mr. Avery’s bedroom or garage and not having the cooperation of Dassey, decides to rewrite the script,” the attorney alleges.
With the DNA bullet and Brendan Dassey’s coerced confession, the state had their link between Halbach, Avery, and the alleged crime scene. But Zellner said none of it makes any sense.
Kratz, she said, paints Avery as a complete idiot one minute and an abyss-minded savant the next.
“The new script calls for Avery, the idiot, to emerge and shoot Halbach in the head while she is lying on the garage floor,” Zellner says. “Mr. Avery, ever the idiot (except when he’s a savant), leaves the magic damaged bullet with Ms. Halbach’s full DNA profile on his garage floor.”
“Mr. Avery confirms his idiocy by flinging Ms. Halbach into the back of her vehicle undoubtedly to create a blood stain pattern on the cargo door that would provide Mr. Kratz’s blood spatter expert with a chance to display his own idiocy in misinterpreting the stain to fit Mr. Kratz’ s script. Not to be outdone, Mr. Avery, the savant, reappears and is able to remove his fingerprints, the blowback blood on the gun, and all of the blood spatter on the garage floor, giving credence to the saying, ‘Even miracles take a little time.'”
A Viable Suspect
Zellner says evidence in Halbach’s death points nowhere near Steven Avery but to a man named Ryan Hillegas, Teresa’s ex-boyfriend who continued to pursue her even after they’d broken up. She alluded to Hillegas last year when she filed a motion for forensic testing in Manitowoc County, saying it was “fairly obvious” who the killer is.
Zellner tweeted Thursday that she would not have to prove Hillegas killed Halbach for Avery to be released, only show that he was a viable suspect law enforcement did not pursue.
Avery is currently serving a life sentence without parole. Zellner’s petition calls for his immediate release based on forensic test results. If the court does not release him, she is requesting a new trial.
[Featured Image by Jeffrey Phelps/AP Images]