Avery's acclaimed new defense attorney, Kathleen Zellner, is a force to be reckoned with in the wrongful conviction field. With an unrivaled reputation in exonerating the falsely convicted, she has now found a new suspect for the murder of Teresa Halbach— an Arizona man with a criminal record to whom Halbach had made two phone calls in the lead up to her murder in 2005.
A feature published by Newsweek yesterday provides a detailed profile of her background and an update on the case for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach for which Steven currently serves a life sentence.
"Zellner has... dropped a headless lamb into a creek to investigate the rape and murder of a child, coaxed 21 confessions from a serial killer and seen it reported that Jessica Biel would play her in a movie. An attorney said facing her at trial was 'worse than my divorce'," says Newsweek's profile.
It's with this fearsome guile that Zellner, as Steven Avery's lawyer, has found a new suspect in the murder of Teresa Halbach - or, perhaps, multiple suspects. With the firm conviction that Avery did not murder Halbach, was framed as a suspect for and perpetrator of the crime, and that Wisconsin Police Department bullied his intellectually challenged nephew into confessing to the murder and implicating Avery, Zellner took the case on early this year.
A key motivator? Watching Avery become an immediate - almost default - suspect in the murder of Halbach, and his treatment during the murder trial by Wisconsin P.D. on Netflix series Making A Murderer'.
"When I watched the Avery case, I felt that the attitude toward him by the prosecutors and the state was that he was disposable. It was almost like a class thing. [His family] didn't matter, they had no power," Zellner told Newsweek. "The longer I watched it, the more angry I got."
When asked about the progress she and her Steven Avery defense team in the case made world-famous by the Making A Murderer series, Zellner gave a titillating response. Indeed, Steven Avery's lawyer has found a new suspect in the murder of Teresa Halbach. In fact, she said there are multiple new suspects and all men who were known to Halbach— unlike Avery himself.
"We have a couple. I'd say there's one, leading the pack by a lot. But I don't want to scare him off, I don't want him to run," said Zellner of the new murder suspect.
Zellner went on to say that the police department and defense attorneys had previously failed to properly investigate the murder - investigate the possibility of an alternative, new suspect to Avery for the Halbach murder - by taking a closer look at Teresa's life. Teresa Halbach was 25-years-old, at the beginning of her career, and known by all to be a "very nice person." To Avery's lawyer, this alone broadens the suspect pool significantly because nice, young people new to the workforce can be naïve when it comes to making a judgement about strangers.
"Women who have bad judgment about men are murdered."So, Avery's lawyer has found a new suspect for the murder of Teresa Halbach, but does this necessarily mean the downtrodden subject of Making A Murderer' will walk free?
New suspect or not, the defense will still need forensic expertise and new evidence— the type of new evidence she has found before for other wrongfully convicted men - to have the closed, strategically exhausted case re-opened at all.
"We have to have new evidence that could not have been obtained before that would result in no juror believing that Steven Avery committed the crime," Zellner told Newsweek. "So that's the standard—it's kind of a high hurdle to jump, but we can jump it with the new technology. With someone who's innocent, you can definitely jump that hurdle."
Steven Avery's lawyer has now found a new suspect for the murder of Teresa Halbach, and that person is a man who to whom Halbach made two phone calls just two days before her murder in 2005. That new suspect - who had recently been arrested for sex crimes - may be the key to Avery's freedom.
[Photos by Manitowoc Sherriff's Department, Morry Gash/AP Images, Monica Schipper/Getty Images, respectively]