A Wisconsin judge has denied Making a Murderer subject Steven Avery a new trial after reviewing a 1,200-page motion filed by his attorney earlier this year.
Sheboygan County Circuit Judge Angela Sutkiewicz issued the ruling Tuesday, four months after Kathleen Zellner filed her motion that included more than 800 pages of exhibits.
“In light of the discussion of the evidence above, and the conclusion with relation to the ability to appeal and venue for an appeal, the defendant has failed to establish any grounds that would trigger the right to a new trial in the interest of justice,” the judge wrote. ” As such, no further consideration will be given to this issue.”
Sutkiewicz further wrote that expert testimony in Zellner’s brief failed to present a probability that a jury would have reached a verdict other than guilty. As such, the motion has been dismissed in its entirety.
The decision comes on the heels of Zellner’s announcement that she was amending the June brief because new witnesses had come forward and additional evidence was being forensically tested.
Zellner claims Teresa Halbach’s killer used befuddled police officers to frame Steven Avery for the murder of Teresa Halbach. She alludes to the killer as Teresa Halbach’s ex-boyfriend, a man named Ryan Hillegas she dated on-and-off for five years. Halbach’s murder was fueled by jealousy, the attorney says.
The ruling also comes a week after Brendan Dassey’s attorneys argued his case in front of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. They claim he was coerced by police in 2006, leading to a false confession in Halbach’s death. The state claims Dassey voluntarily admitted to helping Avery rape and kill Halbach before throwing her body in a Halloween bonfire.
— Making A Murderer (@MakingAMurderer) September 12, 2016
Zellner said she will file a motion to vacate Tuesday’s ruling and continue to push for the trial court to hear Avery’s current petition for post-conviction relief. She said the motion will specify an agreement she has with the Wisconsin Department of Justice allowing her to file the amended brief and order more forensic testing.
“With the addition of these new scientific test results and new evidence, [I] remain confident that his conviction will be vacated,” she said in a statement.
If Zellner is unsuccessful with the amended motion, her next step would be to ask the Wisconsin Court of Appeals to hear the case if she can present a constitutional argument. If she’s unsuccessful there and the Wisconsin Supreme Court, a petition for habeas corpus relief could be filed in federal court.
Zellner also tweeted about Tuesday’s developments, saying, “An innocent person never quits.”
The State of Wisconsin praised Sutkiewicz’s ruling, saying it brings the family Teresa Halbach one step closer to justice.
“[The] DOJ will continue to vigorously defend Avery’s conviction, which was handed down by a jury of his peers,” Attorney General Brad Schimel said.
Avery supports took to social media with a hailstorm of barbs Tuesday, some calling for Avery’s immediate release.
“Let that poor man go,” one Facebook user said.
Avery is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole. Brendan Dassey’s life sentence was vacated in August 2016 by a federal magistrate, who ruled his confession was coerced. Schimel challenged that ruling, sending the case to a three-judge panel, who affirmed the 2016 decision earlier this year. The AG’s office also challenged that decision, sending the case to seven Seventh Circuit judges, who heard oral arguments on September 26. A decision whether the court will affirm the federal magistrate is expected in coming months.
[Featured Image by Jeffrey Phelps/AP Images]