Denied: Judge dismisses Steven Avery's appeal for new trial

A circuit court judge denied Steven Avery’s request for a new trial in the murder of Teresa Halbach Tuesday. 

In the Sheboygan County Circuit Court’s decision,  Judge Angela Sutkiewicz said, “Given the totality of evidence submitted at trial and the ambiguous conclusions as stated in the experts’ reports, it cannot be said that a reasonable probability exists that a different result would be reached at a new trial based on these reports.”

Avery’s attorneys had filed a number of motions arguing that forensic tests that are available now could be used to disprove the prosecution’s evidence used to convict Avery in 2005. 

In particular, there was a question of Avery’s DNA found on a key found in his trailer. The judge said there is “no question,” it was Avery’s DNA, and "While the defendant asserts that someone took his toothbrush and planted the DNA on the subkey, there is no evidence submitted that establishes a break in or the theft of a toothbrush other than the defendant’s conclusory allegations." 

“Given the totality of evidence submitted at trial and the ambiguous conclusions as stated in the experts’ reports, it cannot be said that a reasonable probability exists that a different result would be reached at a new trial based on these reports. As such, the defendant has not met his burden in order to obtain a new trial,” the judge's decision said.

Avery's attorney, Kathleen Zellner, said in a news release Tuesday evening that she plans to vacate the judge's decision. She released the following statement:

“Steven Avery, by his counsel The Law Firm of Kathleen T. Zellner and Associates, will be filing a motion to vacate the Honorable Judge Angela Sutkiewicz’s order entered today, which dismissed Mr. Avery’s petition. The basis for the order to vacate will be that an agreement was reached between Mr. Avery’s attorneys and the Wisconsin Attorney General on September 18, 2017, to conduct further testing and to allow Mr. Avery to amend his petition with new scientific test results and additional witness affidavits. 

With the addition of these new scientific test results and new evidence, Mr. Avery’s attorneys remain confident that his conviction will be vacated.”

Avery was convicted of murdering Halbach in 2005, along with his nephew Brendan Dassey. Dassey, who is currently fighting to have his confession thrown out, which his attorneys say was coerced by law enforcement. 

Avery’s case gained national attention following the Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer” raised questions about the case. 

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