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

In Touch (USA) - - Cover Story -

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.





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