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'Making a Murderer': Stunning development implicates a new suspect in the Avery family

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Harvey Day
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Steven Avery’s lawyer Kathleen Zellner says she has evidence that could point the finger of blame to other family members 

Anyone with half a brain cell and a Netflix subscription has an opinion on who exactly killed Teresa Halbach. After years of thorny legal wrangling that involved a wrongful conviction for rape, a $36-million civil lawsuit and allegations of police corruption, Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey are both in jail for the 2005 killing.

But now Avery’s legal team are alleging that other family members know more than they’re letting on – and could even be involved in the crime.

Before we dive in, here’s a summary of the Making a Murderer case for anyone who’s now a bit rusty: The 10-part documentary follows Steven Avery - a Wisconsin man wrongly convicted of sexual assault and attempted murder in 1985.

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DNA evidence later proved his innocence, resulting in his release from 2003. Two years later, after filing a $36 million (£24.4 million) lawsuit against Manitowoc County for his wrongful conviction, Avery was then accused and convicted of the murder of Teresa Halbach, a photographer who went missing in the area around the Avery family scrap yard - a crime that Avery’s defence team believes was pinned on Steven Avery by the Manitowoc County police.

Avery (pictured in 1985) is now in jail for the killing of Teresa Halbach

The documentary also covered the arrest and conviction of Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey, whose conviction was overturned in 2016 but then later upheld by a higher court in December 2017.

According to Rolling Stone, Avery’s lawyer Kathleen Zellner, a powerhouse attorney who has obtained the exoneration of 19 wrongfully convicted men since 1991, now thinks other family members are involved in the crime – and are covering up evidence.

In a 54-page court filing, Zellner says there is evidence to suggest police recovered images of Halbach as well as ‘violent pornography involving young females being raped and tortured’ from a Dassey family computer.

Crucially, however, they were all accessed on the internet at times when Brendan was not in the house but his older brother Bobby Dassey was home alone.

She goes to point to alleged evidence that Barb – Steven’s sister – hired someone to wipe the computer’s hard drive before police could access it.

“There is a paragraph in a police report from 2006 describing what we were able to find with more clarity,” Zellner says: “[Avery trial attorneys Dean] Strang and [Jerry] Buting received the reports on this violent porn about 7-10 days before trial.”

“Clearly, they should have investigated, gotten a forensic expert and pinned it to when only Bobby was home. But the State had no real interest in outing Bobby’s perversions and obsession with dead female bodies – after all, they didn’t want the jury to see their star witness was a developing sexual psychopath.”

Zellner (left) celebrating outside prison with Bernard Mims, whose murder conviction was tossed after 16 years 

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What’s more, Zellner also alleges that Brendan’s brother Bobby - a key prosecution witness - lied to police about seeing Halbach walking towards Avery’s trailer. This piece of testimony was relied upon by prosecutors to put Avery away.

Zellner told Rolling Stone: “I ask myself what would motivate [Barbara] and Bobby to be such obstructionists and I have reached the inevitable conclusion, as our court filings state, that they were involved in the crime and Barb, was and is involved, even unwittingly, in its coverup”.

Appellate attorney Erica Suter, an expert in post-conviction issues who has followed the Avery case, added: “If [the] court finds that the laptop CD [containing 2,449 pages of data downloaded from the Dassey family’s laptop computer] was withheld by the prosecution and contains material evidence, Avery should get a new trial for sure.”

A follow-up second series of Making a Murderer is currently in the works, chasing up the latest developments in the case.

A Netflix spokesman said earlier: “This next chapter will provide an in-depth look at the high-stakes post-conviction process, as well as, the emotional toll the process takes on all involved.

“The episodes will offer exclusive access to Avery’s new lawyer Kathleen Zellner and [co-defendant, Brendan] Dassey’s legal team, led by Laura Nirider and Steve Drizin, as well as intimate access to the families and characters close to the case.”

Netflix is expected to release the season second at some point this year so we can all play armchair detectives once again. 

(Images: Netflix / Getty)