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‘Making a Murderer’ case: Court rules against latest Steven Avery appeal

FILE - In this March 13, 2007, file photo, Steven Avery listens to testimony in the courtroom...
FILE - In this March 13, 2007, file photo, Steven Avery listens to testimony in the courtroom at the Calumet County Courthouse in Chilton, Wis. The Wisconsin Court of Appeal on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, rejected a request by "Making a Murderer" subject Steven Avery for a new trial.(Source: AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool, File)
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 10:59 AM EDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY/Gray News) - A Wisconsin appeals court has ruled against Steven Avery in his latest quest for a new trial in the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach.

The decision released Wednesday states Avery is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing because a lower court did not err in denying motions raising new claims about evidence and a third-party suspect, WBAY-TV reported.

Avery’s attorney Kathleen Zellner filed a motion with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals District II asking to allow Avery to file a motion disclosing new evidence of what’s known as a Brady violation and to introduce a third-party suspect in the 2005 killing of Teresa Halbach in Manitowoc County.

Halbach’s vehicle was found at the Avery Salvage Yard by searchers on the morning of Nov. 5, 2005.

Zellner’s filing says Thomas Sowinski, a former driver for Gannett Newspapers, delivered papers to the Avery Salvage Yard in the morning hours of Nov. 5, 2005.

In a signed affidavit, Sowinski says he witnessed Avery’s nephew, Bobby Dassey, and an older man “suspiciously pushing a dark blue RAV-4 down Avery Road towards the junkyard.”

Sowinski says he delivered papers to the Avery mailbox and turned around toward the exit. He says Bobby Dassey “attempted to step in front of his car to block him from leaving the property.”

The motion reads: “After Mr. Sowinski learned that Teresa Halbach’s car was found later in the day on November 5, 2005, he realized the significance of what he had observed and immediately contacted the Manitowoc Sheriff’s Office and spoke to a female officer, reporting everything he has stated in his affidavit. The officer said, ‘We already know who did it.’”

Bobby Dassey was considered a star witness at the Steven Avery murder trial.

Bobby Dassey told the court that he saw Halbach’s vehicle pull up to the driveway at 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2005. He said he witnessed Halbach, a freelance photographer assigned to photograph vehicles at the salvage yard, walk up to the door of Avery’s trailer. Bobby Dassey stated that when he left to go hunting, he saw Halbach’s RAV-4 parked in the driveway. He said when he returned, the RAV-4 was gone.

Zellner argues that the prosecution failed to disclose evidence of Sowinski’s report to the sheriff’s office that he had witnessed Bobby Dassey and another man moving the vehicle to the salvage yard. Zellner says that call would have destroyed the credibility of Bobby Dassey at trial or established that Bobby Dassey was involved in the murder and planted evidence to frame his uncle.

Zellner is asking the appeals court to stay the appeal and remand the case to circuit court so the new witness testimony can be presented before a judge.

Avery is serving a life sentence for first-degree intentional homicide. The case received new notoriety after the release of the 2015 Netflix documentary series “Making A Murderer.”

Avery’s other nephew, Brendan Dassey, was also convicted of killing Halbach. He will be able to ask for parole in 2048. Brendan Dassey appealed his conviction up to the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices declined to hear his case. Brendan Dassey’s attorneys are now asking Gov. Tony Evers to consider clemency or early release. They argue his confession to the crime was coerced by detectives. He was 16 at the time of his confession and considered to have a low IQ.

CLICK HERE for more on the Brendan Dassey request for clemency.

“Brendan Dassey was a 16-year-old, intellectually disabled child when he was taken from his school and subjected to a uniquely and profoundly flawed legal process. That process rightly sought justice for Teresa Halbach, but it wrongly took a confused child’s freedom in payment for her loss. Such a debt can never be justly repaid with the currency of innocence,” reads the clemency petition.

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