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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

New details in Avery case could spell a positive turn of events


It goes without saying that the legal systems around the world are the protective measures we have in place to help ensure that justice is carried out adequately and swiftly. And despite the best intentions of the law, it is the unfortunate reality that it does not always go to plan, and miscarriages of justice do occur. Sometimes, no matter how top-tier the legal representation is in a case (whether one goes through Houston criminal defense, or an LA-based legal practice, or any other manner of legal practices available, for that matter), a loss occurs. There are brutal crimes happening every day, and they sometimes form some of the most prominent headlines. In the most heart-stopping cases, those headlines continue for prolonged periods of time (even over a period of several years, in some cases). 

While many murder cases are globally infamous even now, decades after the fact, there are some more recent murder cases that have captured the attention of the world. The case against Steven Avery for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach is one of them. It is a well-documented fact that, for whatever reason, most people are intrigued by murder. Not in the sense of its appeal (as if that would be possible for someone who was not disturbed), but in the idea of what could possibly happen to push someone to the point of murder. It is this sense of uneasy intrigue that makes some murder cases so infamous. More to the point, murder cases tend to go under the microscope when they are heavily covered by the media and when there is what appears to be a miscarriage of justice, either on the part of the defendant or the victim. 

The case against Avery and its aftermath shot to global infamy with the release of a Netflix documentary detailing the events of Avery’s life leading up to his imprisonment, the trial, and the case. Today, it is one of the most famous crimes and ongoing cases in recent US history. It also happens to be a crime that continues to infatuate the world, as new evidence and discoveries are brought to the helm every few months. Avery was considered your average guy. But unlike most average guys around, Avery has a long-standing history with the US legal system that is riddled with inauthenticity, lies, and lack of solid evidence against him. Avery had been wrongfully convicted for a 1985 sexual assault and attempted murder. After revolutionary DNA testing proved Avery to be innocent, he was released. The victim expressed her sorrow in wrongfully identifying Avery, and they made amends. 

Then, in 2005, Avery was found charged and ultimately found guilty of the murder of young photographer, Teresa Halbach, who was last seen on his property photographing a vehicle for a paid job. Despite a lack of ironclad evidence, Avery was found guilty of the horrendous crime, along with his nephew, Brendan Dassey, who confessed in a police interview that, after the fact, has largely been deemed to be entirely coerced. Ten years later, a docuseries surrounding Avery and his conviction was complete. The documentary, titled Making a Murderer, was first released to the public on the 18th December 2015, via the streaming giant Netflix. The filmmakers filmed the docuseries over ten years, making it one of the most long-winded independent productions in history. 

The world was instantly drawn to the case, with people all over the world calling for Avery and Dassey’s release. Ever since, it has been the case that will not disappear from the public eye. A second season was released in late 2018 (mid October, to be exact). It was then that Avery’s case drew the attention of one of the world’s most esteemed post-conviction lawyers. Avery’s current post-conviction lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, has been working extremely hard to prove Avery’s innocence since she took on the case not so long ago. Kathleen Zellner is a miracle worker for the wrongfully accused. Her success rate is higher than any other post-conviction lawyer’s in freeing the genuinely innocent of crimes they did not commit. 

A large part of Zellner’s work in the case – and a major plot in the second season of Making a Murderer – is her dedication to going above and beyond with all the “evidence” found, disproving it all, one step at a time. Additionally, Zellner has also issued a $100,000 USD reward for information that leads to the identification and arrest of Halbach’s true killer. The latest official turn of events in this ongoing criminal case was in February of this year, when Avery was granted an appeal motion, but it did not result in any positive action. The most recent development is Zellner’s teasing of an upcoming announcement that has crucial information to the case. There are many crimes that go on to become famous after the fact, for many different reasons. In the case of murders, it is the most harrowing, the most intriguing cases that go on to become globally famous. 

The case against Steven Avery is a worldwide phenomenon that continues to reach new points of discovery and exploration into the case. After the Netflix series, Making a Murderer was released, Avery was shot to infamy, along with his nephew, and co-accused, Brendan Dassey. Despite much insistence that they were both in fact innocence, Avery and his nephew were imprisoned for the murder and mutilation of Halbach. Avery’s defense at the time was decidedly subpar, but recently the renowned Kathleen Zellner took Avery’s case. She has been working at getting Avery freed ever since, convinced of his innocence. While Avery – along with his nephew, Dassey – remains behind bars today, Zellner has just teased of a new development, a major announcement. If this impending announcement will sway any of the circumstances, is yet to be determined. But there is hope yet for Avery and Dassey, as the true killer could potentially be unmasked.

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