Published October 03, 2017
A Wisconsin man convicted in the killing of a woman that was the focus of the hit Netflix series "Making a Murderer" was denied a request for a new trial Tuesday.
Steven Avery's attorney said she planned to present new evidence to the court to try and revive his request after it was rejected by a state circuit judge. Avery had argued that his conviction in the 2005 death of photographer Teresa Halbach was based on planted evidence and false testimony.
"We have additional test results and witness affidavits," Avery's attorney Kathleen Zellner said in a statement. "The scientific testing is not completed, we remain optimistic that Mr. Avery's conviction will be vacated."
Sheboygan County Circuit Judge Angela Sutkiewicz said in her ruling that based on the evidence presented so far, Avery failed to establish grounds to warrant a new trial. Avery argued that new scientific tests cast doubt on evidence submitted at his trial, presented alternate theories about the killing and questioned motives of police.
Given the totality of evidence submitted at the trial, no reasonable probability exists that a different result would be reached at a new trial, the judge said.
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel praised the decision, saying it "brings us one step closer to providing justice to Teresa Halbach's family." He said the Department of Justice would continue to vigorously defend Avery's conviction.
Avery, 55, was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of first-degree intentional homicide in the 2005 death of Halbach, a 25-year-old photographer.
Avery's nephew, Brendan Dassey, confessed to detectives he helped his uncle rape and kill Halbach at the Avery family's salvage yard. A judge overturned Dassey's conviction last year, ruling that investigators took advantage of the then-16-year-old Dassey's cognitive disabilities and tricked him into confessing.
The state is fighting that ruling and a federal appeals court heard arguments in the case last week. Dassey remains in custody while the appeal is pending.
Both Avery and Dassey maintain their innocence. The case gained national attention in 2015 after Netflix aired "Making a Murderer," a multi-part documentary examining Halbach's death. The series spawned conjecture about the pair's innocence, but those who worked on the cases accused the filmmakers of leaving out key pieces of evidence and presenting a biased view of what happened. The filmmakers defended their work and supported calls to set both Avery and Dassey free.