In Touch Exclusive: New Evidence That Will Free Steven Avery
Steven Avery’s lawyer uses new technology in a blockbuster bid to prove the Making a Murderer star is innocent
On Nov. 8, 2005, Lt. James Lenk and Sgt. Andrew Colborn of the Manitowoc County Sheriff ’s Office walked into Steven Avery’s bedroom. It was the sixth time police had searched the 700-squarefoot trailer since Teresa Halbach had been reported missing, and the Manitowoc County Sheriff ’s Office was not even supposed to be directly involved in the murder investigation. Colborn claims that this time around, he suddenly decided to shake a bookcase located near Steven’s bed, which is when Lenk saw a car key — on which only Steven’s DNA was later detected — fall to the floor. Not only was it Teresa’s missing Toyota RAV4 key, but it went on to become a crucial piece of evidence that put Steven behind bars for life without parole for the photographer’s grisly murder.
Now that same key could set him free. An exclusive In Touch investigation has revealed that Steven’s new highprofile attorney, Kathleen Zellner, is having the key analyzed by stateof-the-art tests that could prove Teresa’s DNA was wiped off after her death using a solvent — and Steven’s DNA planted on the key. “Steven’s legal team believes that they will able to present clear, scientific evidence that the key was scrubbed,” a source close to the case exclusively tells In Touch. Furthermore, says the source, Zellner also plans to prove that Steven’s DNA was planted on the key. These are just two new developments in a
case that captivated America and sparked national debate thanks to Netflix’s 2015 mega-hit Making a Murderer. Zellner — who’s responsible for the exoneration and release of at least 16 people in wrongful conviction cases, more than any other private attorney in America — will use a combination of new scientific tests and bombshell new evidence to free the 53-year-old Wisconsin native. “The testing took longer than expected and much of the appeal relies on the results. The appeal will be submitted Aug. 29 [and the goal] isn’t to get Steven a new trial,” says the source. “Zellner wants his murder conviction vacated.”
She plans to show that there’s no way Steven could have killed Teresa. According to the source, the relentless attorney, 59, can prove that after Teresa was last seen alive taking photos for Autotrader magazine outside Steven’s home on Oct. 31, 2005, she left his family’s salvage yard. “The appeal will go into further detail about this,” says the source. Zellner’s “proof” does not rely on cellphone records that she cited earlier in the case, In Touch has exclusively learned. “Not only did Teresa leave the property that day,” adds the source, “but Avery has an airtight alibi, period.”
Bloodstains and DNA found in Teresa’s car — which was discovered on Steven’s property — were crucial to his conviction. But the source says blood that was found at the crime scene belonging to Steven was significantly older than Teresa’s blood. Steven’s former defense team tried to argue this at his last trial, almost 10 years ago. Steven spent 18 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of rape in 1985. He had given a blood sample during that trial, and his murder defense team contended that sample was taken out of archived evidence, and planted in the car, says the source. Now, thanks to new technology, Zellner may finally prove the theory to be true: A test developed in 2011 can determine the age of blood by a compound that breaks it down over time. Adds the source, “Further testing is now being done because there are serious doubts about the accuracy of that blood sample.”
Another test will focus on the charred remains found outside Steven’s trailer. “The bones that were found in the fire pit don’t match the soil,” Curtis Busse, a close friend and supporter of Steven, who has visited him at the Waupun Correctional Institution five times in three months, tells In Touch. (Through the Freedom of Information Act, In Touch has obtained Steven’s visitor log; see sidebar.) Bone fragments belonging to Teresa were also found in a burn barrel located by another Avery family residence. “The pit where Teresa’s remains were [ primarily] found was never properly processed,” claims the source. “There was plenty of time to plant the evidence and Teresa’s bones in Steven’s fire pit.”
But if Steven didn’t kill Teresa, then who did? In Touch has learned that the Chicago-based attorney will be naming names when she files the appeal. “There are other suspects who will be introduced in the appeal, and Steven’s team believes they are responsible for
Teresa’s murder,” says the source. Those close to Steven are extremely hopeful. “Steven is so lucky to have Zellner working for him because there is no one better,” adds his friend Busse, founder of The Steven Avery Project, a Facebook support group with over 100,000 likes. “I know her appeal will be the best shot Steven has at getting out of prison.” But even if Zellner succeeds, Steven’s ordeal may not be over. “If Steven has his conviction vacated, the district attorney could decide to try the case again,” warns an Avery insider. “The DA will do everything possible to keep him locked up.” It’s a risk Steven is willing to take, as he remains 100 percent confident that Zellner will secure his freedom. “I can tell you that Steven firmly believes he will be getting out of prison,” Busse tells In Touch, “because he’s innocent.” ◼
Steven’s attorney, Kathleen Zellner (near right), “believes there is more than enough evidence to get Steven’s conviction for the murder of Teresa Halbach (far right) overturned,” says Steven’s close friend, Curtis Busse.