Court rejects new trial bid in Making A Murderer case

Court rejects new trial bid in Making A Murderer case
Steven Avery at The Wisconsin Court of Appeals (Morry Gash, Pool/AP)

A US appeal court has rejected a request by Making A Murderer subject Steven Avery to hold a hearing on fresh evidence he wanted to present for a new trial.

Avery is serving a life sentence for the 2005 killing of photographer Teresa Halbach, a case that became the focus of a popular Netflix series whose creators raised questions about the convictions of Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey.

Avery’s lawyer Kathleen Zellner asked the court to consider claims ranging from insufficient scientific evidence to ineffective trial counsel. That request had been rejected in 2017 without a hearing and Avery, in his latest appeal, had asked for a hearing or new trial to consider the evidence.

“Avery raises a variety of alternative theories about who killed Halbach and how,” the appeals court said.

We express no opinion about who committed this crime: the jury has decided this question, and our review is confined to whether the claims before us entitle Avery to an evidentiary hearing

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals

But it sided with lawyers for the state Department of Justice who argued the type of motion Avery had filed was not the proper one to retry the case before a jury.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals concluded that the lower court had correctly denied his request.

“We express no opinion about who committed this crime: the jury has decided this question, and our review is confined to whether the claims before us entitle Avery to an evidentiary hearing,” the appeals court said.

“We conclude that the circuit court did not erroneously exercise its discretion.”

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 Ms Halbach’s death.

The series led to conjecture about the pair’s innocence, but those who worked on the cases accused 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 Avery and Dassey free.

Dassey was 16 when he confessed to detectives that he had helped his uncle rape and kill Ms Halbach at the Avery family’s salvage yard.

A judge threw out the confession in 2016, ruling it was coerced by investigators using deceptive tactics.

That ruling was later overturned by a federal appeals court and the US Supreme Court declined to hear his case.

Avery has been fighting unsuccessfully for years to have his conviction overturned and to be granted a new trial.

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