A special prosecutor has been named in the post-conviction case of Making a Murderer subject Steven Avery.
Assistant Sheboygan County District Attorney Mark Williams was named to Avery’s Manitowoc County case July 14 because of conflict of interest, according to court documents. Currently, Thomas Fallon with the state of Wisconsin Department of Justice is heading the prosecution on behalf of Attorney General Brad Schimel. Avery was tried in 2007 by special prosecutor Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz because of a pending $36 million wrongful conviction lawsuit Avery filed against Manitowoc County officials.
Before joining the Sheboygan County District Attorney’s Office in 2015, Williams spent 20 years as the head of Milwaukee County homicide prosecution unit. He retired in 2014 but joined the Sheboygan County office when one of the prosecutors went on medical leave.
Williams’ appointment ends considerable social media speculation about the identity of the special prosecutor. While details have not been released, Avery’s lawsuit and current allegations of planted evidence and prosecutorial misconduct aimed largely at Kratz would likely present a conflict.
Although he’s not a party to Avery’s case, Assistant Manitowoc County District Attorney Michael Griesbach’s book about Steven Avery and Making a Murderer would also present a conflict as attorney Kathleen Zellner argues her current motion for post-conviction relief.
Zellner is accusing the state of withholding evidence in Avery’s case, including what she says are at least for violations under Brady v. Maryland, the 1963 Supreme Court case that requires prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence. One of Zellner’s claims under Brady is that police failed to investigate more viable suspects. She says others, including Teresa Halbach’s ex-boyfriend and roommate, had opportunity to kill her.
Ryan Hillegas and Scott Blaedorn testified that they were not asked for alibis for the day Teresa disappeared. pic.twitter.com/pWeCNlc5W0
— Making A Murderer (@MakingAMurderer) May 20, 2016
But that is not all, Zellner, who has exonerated 18 wrongfully convicted men in her career, is alleging in the 1,200-page motion. The attorney says members of law enforcement were duped by the real killer, which started a domino effect of planted evidence and poor investigative work that wrongfully put an innocent Avery away for first-degree murder. And the claims are not just bold ones. They’re as staggering as can be, but Zellner says she has evidence to back up every word.
First, there is her theory that the real killer illegally entered Steven Avery’s trailer, found some of his blood, and planted it in Halbach’s vehicle. Zellner’s claim that Teresa Halbach was not shot but clubbed to death is another direct challenge to what Kratz presented at trial. She says an array of testing, coupled with expert testimony, will prove Avery is not the state’s man, and that Halbach’s bones were planted on his property along with the key to her car. The key and bones were found by Manitowoc County deputies, whose only role because of the pending lawsuit was to “provide resources” to the Calumet County Sheriff’s Department.
Should Manitowoc County officials Lt. Lenk and Sgt. Colborn have involved themselves in the Halbach case? pic.twitter.com/PqMQrDYBKB
— Making A Murderer (@MakingAMurderer) February 16, 2016
Avery is serving a life sentence without parole. His nephew Brendan Dassey’s conviction was vacated last year, yet he remains imprisoned while Schimel’s office appeals the ruling that the confession he gave to police in 2006 was coerced. A special prosecutor has also been appointed in Dassey’s state case, which is currently closed. The case could be reopened in the coming months if the state is unsuccessful in the federal appeals court and decides to retry him.
[Featured Image By Bruce Halmo/AP Images]