Former Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz slammed Steven Avery’s lawyer Kathleen Zellner Friday, for suggesting that Teresa Halbach’s ex-boyfriend killed her and not Avery and Brandan Dassey.
Kratz, who prosecuted Avery and Dassey for the 2005 killing, is a featured speaker this weekend the first-ever CrimeCon convention in Indianapolis. He, along with Wisconsin Police Investigator Tom Fassbender, opened the convention with a 2 1/2-hour presentation about Making a Murderer.
After their first session at the JW Marriott, Kratz told reporters it was a last-ditch effort for Zellner to point the finger at Halbach’s ex-lover, Ryan Hillegas, when the people who killed her are rightfully behind bars.
“(Zellner) had a real difficult position,” Kratz told Fox 59. “She had gotten some test results back that really didn’t support their position very well at all. So, all she has left is to blame others for the crime. Unfortunately, she chose the ex-boyfriend in the case, placing the blame on him without any kind of evidence at all. For the family and those of us who worked so hard—not only to get the conviction—but to get some kind of closure, we think it’s absolutely deplorable.”
In a petition containing 1,000 pages of exhibits filed Wednesday in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, Zellner accuses Kratz of fabricating evidence to fit the state’s theory that Avery raped, stabbed and shot Halbach before burning her body in a bonfire on Oct. 31, 2005.
She also accused Kratz of suppressing evidence that would have seen Hillegas emerge as a more credible suspect.
Kratz had a similar response to Zellner’s allegations Wednesday in an email to the USA Today network.
“I suspect that, with science apparently now confirming Mr. Avery’s guilt, she has chosen to make whatever incendiary allegations she can to make headlines, with little regard for the Halbach family or the truth,” he said in the email.
Kratz gave no credence to Making a Murderer Friday but said the reason so many people have been drawn to the case is that Avery is a public figure, the first person in state history to be exonerated for a serious crime, then turn around and torture and kill someone.
“Steven Avery was the poster child for the Innocence Project,” Kratz said, “and the very good work they do. It was really a tragedy that he took all that pent-up frustration and anger and found a 25-year-old crime victim—a photographer he raped, tortured and murdered with his nephew, Brendan Dassey.”
Kratz was largely forgotten outside of Manitowoc County after then 16-year-old Dassey was found guilty in 2007, a conviction that has since been overturned pending appeal by the Wisconsin Department of Justice. He re-emerged in 2010 and again in 2014, more than a year before Making a Murderer hit Netflix. That’s when it was learned that Kratz was fired, fined $23,904, and had his law license suspended for sending inappropriate messages to a 25-year-old domestic violence victim. In what was reported as a “barrage of racy text messages”, Kratz called the woman a “hot nymph” and himself “the prize” with a big job and house.
Kratz later said he was abusing prescription drugs at the time and has since successfully completed treatment for sex addiction. He currently works as a defense attorney.
In his book, Avery:The Case Against Steven Avery and What Making a Murderer Gets Wrong, Kratz says that Avery reached out to him from prison, asking him to take his case so the two can “make money together.”
The aftermath of the Netflix docu-series, Kratz said, has been just as hard on him and that he’s received thousands of death threats and lost everything including his marriage, home, and life savings.
[Featured Image by Morry Gash/AP Images]