Tag Archives: steven avery

Wisconsin AG moves to block Brendan Dassey’s release

Wisconsin’s attorney general plans to file an emergency motion to block the conditional release of Steven Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, convicted of homicide in a case made famous by the Netflix series Making a Murderer.

Attorney General Brad Schimel said in a statement on Nov. 14 that he was filing the motion with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A federal judge ordered Dassey released while prosecutors appeal a ruling that overturned Dassey’s conviction in the 2005 slaying of photographer Teresa Halbach.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William Duffin had ruled in August that investigators tricked Dassey into confessing he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape, kill and mutilate Halbach in 2005.

The state has appealed that ruling.

The order to release the 27-year-old Dassey from prison, which also came from Duffin, was contingent on him meeting numerous conditions. He had until noon Tuesday to provide the federal probation and parole office with the address of where he planned to live.

Dassey was 16 when Halbach died. He’s now 27.

Prosecutors want Brendan Dassey to stay in prison

Prosecutors want a federal judge to keep a man convicted in a case profiled in the popular Making a Murderer Netflix series behind bars while they appeal his release.

A federal magistrate judge ruled in August that investigators tricked Brendan Dassey into confessing that he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, kill photographer Teresa Halbach in 2005.

The judge ordered Dassey freed from prison unless prosecutors appealed.

Attorneys for the Wisconsin Justice Department filed a brief this week arguing Dassey should stay in prison because he’s a serious threat to public safety.

Dassey’s attorneys have asked the magistrate to release him while the state’s appeal is pending.

The brief from the state attorneys notes that the magistrate clearly said his ruling would be stayed if it was appealed.

 

A timeline of events in the Brendan Dassey case

A judge has overturned the 2007 homicide conviction of Brendan Dassey in a case profiled in the Netflix series Making a Murderer.

At the center of the judge’s decision was a confession Dassey made saying he helped his uncle Steven Avery kill Teresa Halbach in Wisconsin.

The judge determined the confession was coerced using deceptive tactics.

Here are some key events in the case:

Oct. 31, 2005: Teresa Halbach, 25, of St. John in Calumet County, a photographer for Auto Trader Magazine, goes to Avery’s Auto Salvage near Mishicot to photograph a minivan for sale by Steven Avery’s sister.

Evidence later shows Avery called asking for her to come, using his sister’s name.

Nov. 3, 2005: Halbach’s family reports her missing.

Nov. 5, 2005: Halbach’s cousins find her vehicle under brush and auto parts in the Avery salvage yard. Charred bone fragments found in a burn pit later are determined to be her remains.

Nov. 8, 2005: Avery tells reporters he fears authorities are trying to frame him for Halbach’s slaying because he sued Manitowoc County officials for $36 million for wrongful conviction. Avery spent 18 years in prison for rape before DNA evidence cleared him of the crime and he was freed in 2003.

Nov. 9, 2005: Avery is arrested and, based on past convictions for burglary and other crimes, charged with possessing firearms as a felon. Authorities say two guns were in his trailer home.

Nov. 15, 2005: Avery is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and mutilating a corpse.

Feb. 14, 2006: Authorities announce Avery has settled his lawsuit against Manitowoc County officials for $400,000.

March 2, 2006: Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey, then 16, is charged in adult court with being a party to first-degree intentional homicide, mutilation of a corpse and first-degree sexual assault. Prosecutors base the charges on a videotaped statement in which Dassey detailed the killing, saying he and Avery raped and killed Halbach and burned her body. He later recants the statement.

Jan. 29, 2007: A judge dismisses sexual assault and kidnapping charges against Avery because Dassey may not testify at his trial.

Jan. 30, 2007: A judge says defense attorneys can tell jurors that Avery was wrongfully convicted of rape and may use as evidence a vial of his blood found unsecured in the Manitowoc County courthouse. Defense attorneys say discovery of the vial supports their claim that blood was planted to frame Avery.

Feb. 12, 2007: Avery’s trial begins.

March 12, 2007: After the prosecution and defense rest, the judge dismisses the false-imprisonment charge, saying he doesn’t think the jury has enough evidence to find Avery guilty. Avery has not taken the witness stand. Dassey also does not testify in Avery’s trial.

March 18, 2007: After deliberating for nearly 22 hours over three days, jurors convict Avery, now 44, of first-degree intentional homicide and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Avery is acquitted of the charge of mutilating a corpse.

April 16, 2007: Dassey, now 17, goes on trial before a jury selected in Dane County.

April 20, 2007: Prosecutors play Dassey’s videotaped confession for the jury.

April 23, 2007: Dassey testifies in his own defense, saying he lied when he gave the statement but doesn’t know why. Avery does not testify.

April 25, 2007: After 4 1/2 hours of deliberation, the jury convicts Dassey of being party to first-degree intentional homicide, mutilation of a corpse and second-degree sexual assault. Sentencing is scheduled Aug. 2.

June 1, 2007: Avery is sentenced to life in prison with no possible parole.

Aug. 2, 2007: Dassey is sentenced to mandatory life in prison with a possibility of parole set for Nov. 1, 2048.

December 2015: Netflix releases the series Making a Murderer, in which the filmmakers cast doubt on the legal process used to convict Dassey and Avery. Authorities involved in the case have called the 10-hour series biased, while the filmmakers have stood by their work.

Aug. 12, 2016: A judge throws out Dassey’s conviction, ruling that investigators coerced a confession using deceptive tactics. He gives prosecutors 90 days to decide whether to retry Dassey.

Bomb threat at sheriff’s office over ‘getting justice for Steven’ Avery

A caller who phoned in a bomb threat to a Wisconsin county sheriff’s office made an apparent reference to “getting justice” for the man at the center of the Making a Murderer documentary, authorities said Wednesday.

The Manitowoc Police Department said in a statement a male caller made the threat around 6:40 p.m. Wednesday, warning of bombs inside the Manitowoc County sheriff’s office building and a vehicle in the parking lot “packed with explosives.”

The caller also mentioned “getting justice for Steven,” something the statement described as an apparent reference to Steven Avery, the Wisconsin man whose prosecution in a 2005 killing was the centerpiece of the 10-part Netflix series issued in December.

The series questions whether Avery, who was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide in the death of photographer Teresa Halbach a decade ago, was treated fairly. It suggests the possibility that Manitowoc County sheriff’s deputies planted evidence in the case, a claim authorities have denied.

Avery had been wrongfully convicted years earlier in a rape case and served 18 years in prison. He sued Manitowoc County for tens of millions before he and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, were arrested in Halbach’s death.

Authorities deemed the area around the sheriff’s office all clear around 9 p.m. Wednesday, and the courthouse was checked as a precaution. No suspicious devices were found.

A second “very similar” threat was received about 20 minutes later, the statement said. Manitowoc police responded to provide security for dispatch and sheriff’s office employees who were about to go through a shift change. Again, no suspicious activity or items were discovered.

Manitowoc police and the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation are working to determine the origin of the call and identity of the caller.

Prosecutor in Steven Avery case to write a book

The man who prosecuted one of the cases featured in the Netflix show “Making a Murderer'” says he’s writing a book.

Ken Kratz tells WBAY-TV that he’s writing about the case because the voice of slaying victim Teresa Halbach has been forgotten. Kratz said he’s grateful to tell the “whole story.”

Steven Avery served 18 years in prison following a wrongful conviction of rape and two years after his release was charged in Halbach’s death. He was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide. 

The “Making a Murderer” series questions whether Avery was treated fairly and suggests the possibility that Manitowoc County sheriff’s deputies planted evidence. 

Authorities have denied that.

Kratz has defended the prosecution and says evidence was left out of the series. 

The filmmakers have stood by their work.

‘Making a Murderer’ subject Steven Avery files appeal of murder conviction

A convicted killer who is the subject of the Netflix series “Making a Murderer” filed a wide-ranging appeal claiming authorities used an improper warrant and that a juror was out to get him, among other things.

Steven Avery, who’s seeking to be released on bond, was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide in the death of photographer Teresa Halbach a decade ago. Avery had been wrongfully convicted years earlier in a rape case and served 18 years in prison. He had sued Manitowoc County for tens of millions before he and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, were arrested in Halbach’s death.

The appeal, filed on Jan. 11 in an appeals court in Madison, bears Avery’s signature and contains numerous spelling and grammar errors. His new attorney’s name doesn’t appear on it.

Manitowoc County Sheriff Robert Hermann said on Jan. 12 he hasn’t seen the appeal, but he has said in the past that the investigation was proper.

The filmmakers behind “Making a Murder” cast doubt on the legal process used to convict Avery and Dassey, and their work has sparked national interest and conjecture. Armchair investigators have flooded Twitter and message boards, and key players in the case have appeared on national news and talk shows.

Authorities involved in the case have called the 10-hour series biased. Filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, meanwhile, have stood by their work.

Avery’s new attorney, Kathleen Zellner, wasn’t immediately available for comment.

In the filing, Avery takes issue with a search conducted during the murder investigation, saying it improperly included multiple properties and therefore any evidence that was uncovered “is clearly ‘FRUIT OF THE POISONOUS TREE.'” The appeal also says that a juror tainted other jurors “THROUGH DIRECT OR INDIRECT IN FLUENCE,” stating numerous times that Avery “IS F—— GUILTY.”

He also said Judge Angela W. Sutkiewicz made misleading statements and that his lawyers were ineffective.

Netflix’s hit documentary ‘Making a Murderer’ raises questions about — and wrath toward — Wisconsin prosecutors

The 10-part Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer, which casts doubt on the legal process in the case of convicted killers Steven Avery and his then-teenage nephew Brendan Dassey, has prompted celebrities to armchair sleuths to flood online message boards and Twitter feeds.

Authorities involved with the Wisconsin case are saying the series is slanted and omits crucial facts that led to Avery and Dassey being found guilty in the death of photographer Teresa Halbach.

The filmmakers, meanwhile, are standing by their work that spans nearly a decade and largely concentrates on the defense and perspective of Avery and Dassey’s relatives.

The rush of attention has left many wondering: How did we get here? And what’s next?

Q: SO WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

A: Avery made national headlines in 2003 when he was released after spending nearly two decades behind bars after being wrongfully convicted of rape. Two years later, Avery and Dassey were charged with killing Halbach, who visited the Avery family salvage yard to take photos of a minivan on Halloween. Her bones and belongings were found burned near Avery’s trailer. Both were convicted and sentenced to life terms, but only Dassey is eligible for parole — in 2048.

Q: WHY HAS THE DOCUMENTARY BEEN SO POPULAR?

A: Its release was impeccably timed. It was released before Christmas, while much of the nation was on holiday break and had time to delve into a 10-hour series. Also, it comes on the heels of the popular podcast Serial, which lays out a complex legal case and has generated intense social media participation.

Q: WHAT EXACTLY IS IN THE DOCUMENTARY?

A: The documentary strongly suggests the possibility that Manitowoc County sheriff’s deputies planted evidence against Avery, including a key found in his bedroom and blood found in the victim’s vehicle. But Sheriff Robert Hermann denied that Tuesday. “They did not plant evidence,” Hermann said. “I trust them 100 percent. Quite frankly, I think justice was served in this case.” He said he watched the series, and added: “I call it a film. It’s missing a lot of important pieces of evidence.”

Q: WHY DO AUTHORITES SAY IT’S BIASED?

A: The series spends much of its time detailing the perspective of Avery and Dassey family members. The case’s special prosecutor, Ken Kratz, refused to comment to The Associated Press, but he has told other media outlets that the documentary ignores the majority of the physical evidence. The omissions include the fact that Avery’s DNA was found on the hood latch on Halbach’s SUV, which was hidden on the salvage lot. Kratz has also said a bullet fired from Avery’s gun was found in his garage with Halbach’s DNA on it.

Q: WHAT DO THE FILMMAKERS SAY?

A: Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos have stood by their work. They said in an email to the AP through Netflix representatives that critics who might say they intentionally omitted or underplayed key evidence to make the series more entertaining or tragic are wrong. “Those accusations are untrue and unfounded,” the statement said.

Q: THERE’S AN ONLINE PETITION SEEKING A PARDON — COULD IT WORK?

A: It seems unlikely for a lot of reasons. For one thing, the request posted on Change.org started by petitioning President Barack Obama, who has no such authority in this type of case, since it’s not a federal matter. The petition recently was rewritten to include Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and remove the word “presidential” from the text of the appeal. Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said Tuesday in an email to the AP that the governor hasn’t watched the series and that “early in his administration, Gov. Walker made the decision not to issue pardons. Those who feel they have been wrongly convicted can seek to have their convictions overturned by a higher court.”

Q: WHAT ABOUT THE VICTIMS?

A: Halbach’s brother Mike Halbach has declined comment since releasing a statement from the family before the documentary became public. “Having just passed the 10-year anniversary of the death of our daughter and sister, Teresa, we are saddened to learn that individuals and corporations continue to create entertainment and to seek profit from our loss,” the statement read. “We continue to hope that the story of Teresa’s life brings goodness to the world.”

The victim from the 1985 rape case has declined comment.

Q: WHAT HAS THE REACTION BEEN LIKE?

A: It’s been all over the map. Celebrities have tweeted about how into the series they are, late night talk show host Seth Meyers spoofed it and fake Twitter accounts have been set up for some of the main players in the case. However, Sheriff Hermann said some of his officers have received threats in emails and voicemails. He said one was from a convicted felon who said an officer should “take his own life, or else he’d come up there and take it for him.” Hermann said Tuesday that threat was passed along to Florida authorities to investigate.

See also: Wisconsin-set ‘Making a Murderer,’ from Netflix, tops winter streaming recommendations

Wisconsin-set ‘Making a Murderer’ tops winter streaming recommendations

Steven Avery.

It’s a name you might not have known a few weeks ago, but one that’s now almost inescapable thanks to Making a Murderer, Netflix’s answer to viral true crime sensations such as the podcast Serial and the HBO series The Jinx. Released in full on Dec. 18, the 10-episode documentary, rated “binge-worthy” by Time magazine, has captivated streaming audiences everywhere and is perhaps one of the most-watched original series released by the streaming service in an already-strong year.

Perhaps nowhere is the show more polarizing than here in Wisconsin. Avery, who’s from Manitowoc County, served 18 years in prison beginning in 1985 after being convicted of sexually assaulting a Manitowoc woman. He was ultimately exonerated of the charge, thanks to the efforts of the Wisconsin Innocence Project and DNA testing, and released in 2003. But a few years later, Avery was arrested again and charged with the death of photographer Teresa Halbach — a crime for which he’s currently serving a life sentence. Making a Murderer suggests the sheriff’s department and prosecutors mishandled the case at best and, at worst, could have framed him for it.

The response to that suggestion has been varied and often visceral. Two separate Internet petitions calling for the pardoning of Avery (and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, who was also convicted for the crime) have already amassed at least 160,000 signatures. A petition directed at the White House has the 100,000 signatures necessary to require President Obama to respond.  Prosecutors maligned by the documentary have come out harshly against it, with Manitowoc County Sheriff Robert Hermann telling Appleton’s The Post-Crescent that the series skews evidence, takes it out of context, and should be considered a “movie” rather than a documentary.

Make up your own mind. Netflix and its competitors both in streaming and traditional TV may be flooding the market with a glut of quality fictional programing, but even with its veracity challenged by those it condemns, Making a Murderer stands out as a vibrant examination of real life, raising real questions about the inner workings of our criminal justice system.

Some of the other top offerings from streaming services to watch for this winter are:

NETFLIX

Making a Murderer is going to dominate the conversation about Netflix for the next few months, but by March 4 the streaming service is poised to shift into campaign mode. That’s when its first success story House of Cards returns, with now-President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) embarking on a re-election campaign that’s sure to be as cutthroat as his original path to the White House.

This winter will also see the long-delayed arrival of the final season of Parks and Recreation on Jan. 13 (although it’s been on Hulu since airing), Chelsea Handler’s four-part documentary series Chelsea Does on Jan. 23, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, the delayed sequel to the 2000 martial arts film, on Feb. 26.

Netflix’s reboot of Full House also shows up on Feb. 26, but the more we hear about Fuller House, the more we want to tell everyone involved to “Cut It Out.”

AMAZON PRIME

The final months of 2015 were big ones for Amazon’s original programming. Transparent, the company’s first breakout success, turned in another exemplary set of 10 episodes in December, taking the story of transgender family matriarch Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) and her family in fascinating new directions that explored the family’s past tragedies and attempts to heal themselves in the present. Amazon Prime got another boost from The Man in the High Castle. Based on Philip K. Dick’s alternate historical novel of the same name, it explores what happens when Germany and Japan occupy and divide the United States after winning World War II. The series’ pilot was the most-watched in the history of Amazon Prime’s original programming when it premiered last January, and the full 10 episodes subsequently became the company’s most-streamed original series.

The second season of the classical-musicians-behaving-badly dramedy Mozart in the Jungle dropped on Dec. 30 and continues into 2016. Come for the resoundingly attractive Gael García Bernal, stay for national treasure Bernadette Peters.

HULU

Hulu’s value still resides primarily in the content it gets from other providers — with next-day streaming available for most network TV shows and an increasingly large library of Hollywood’s most popular films. 

But this winter marks the premiere of one of the service’s few original programs to date: 11.22.63. Based on a Stephen King novel, the nine-hour limited series follows a schoolteacher (played by James Franco) who travels back in time to prevent the assassination of JFK but finds his mission more complicated than he expected. The J.J. Abrams-produced series will start airing weekly episodes on (when else?) Presidents’ Day, Feb. 15.

HBO GO

If you’re a parent with an HBO subscription, this is the month you get to brag to all the other parents at daycare about how your munchkins have already seen the latest episodes of Sesame Street, premiering on the cable station and its streaming component HBO GO on Jan. 16 (don’t worry, the episodes will still air on PBS after a nine-month exclusivity window). After the kids go to bed, you can tag team episodes of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and new ’70s music industry drama Vinyl starting Feb. 14, or wait a week to start half-hour comedies Girls and Togetherness Feb. 21.

See also: Netflix documentary stirs national debate over prosecutorial misconduct in famed Wisconsin murder case