A judge has denied Making A Murderer subject Steven Avery’s request for a new trial, declaring “the defendant has failed to establish any grounds that would trigger the right to a new trial in the interests of justice. As such, no further consideration will be given to this issue.”
Avery is currently serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for the 2005 rape and murder of Teresa Halbach. Near the end of 2015, a 10 part Netflix documentary on the case raised questions amongst the public regarding his guilt. Soon after, wrongful conviction lawyer Kathleen Zellner took up his case and filed a 1,272-page motion for a new trial earlier this year that included claims of ineffective counsel from his appeal lawyer, prosecutorial violations, and evidence tampering. It also offered up new forensic evidence.
But the length and detail of the motion didn’t sway Sheboygan County Circuit Judge Angela Sutkiewicz, who noted Avery had already appealed on the basis of prosecutorial violations and been denied. She also considered the new forensic reports provided by Zellner and decided they weren’t convincing enough to justify re-opening the case.
“All three items of evidence were admitted at trial,” she wrote. “Each was thoroughly contested by defense counsel. The reports submitted by the defendant are equivocal in their conclusions and do not establish an alternate interpretation of the evidence. 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.”
Judge Sutkiewicz also noted in her ruling a Wisconsin statute that could narrow down the kinds of admissible forensic testing considerably. In order for ‘new’ forensic evidence to be considered, it may have to be newer than the latest relevant appeal date. In this case, that would be 2015, rather than the date of Avery’s original trial back in 2006.