Kathleen Zellner, the attorney currently representing “Making a Murderer” subject Steven Avery, has identified new suspects that the police investigators and Avery’s former attorneys had previously ignored.
“We have a couple. I’d say there’s one, leading the pack by a lot. But I don’t want to scare him off, I don’t want him to run,” Zellner explained to Newsweek in an extensive profile of the litigator and how she plans to free Avery, who was convicted for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach.
Zellner told the magazine that the investigation’s focus was kept narrowly to the families of Avery, his convicted nephew Brendan Dassey, and Halbach’s family. She says key people who knew the victim were overlooked.
“We’ve got access to documents the public doesn’t have. We’ve got all the police reports, we can see exactly what they did and did not do,” Zellner said. “And it’s a lot more about what they did not do.”
In the months since she took Avery on as a client, Zellner has combed through all the documents in the case and performed or ordered her own forensic tests completed.
In Halbach’s phone records, Zellner discovered that the victim had made two calls a couple of days before she was murdered to a man with a record of sexual abuse crimes in Arizona.
“A well-trained investigator, they’d be all over that. And they would have gone and talked to [that man], and they would have interviewed these other people that [Teresa Halbach was] talking to right before her death,” Zellner said. “She’s like prey being stalked, and that’s [the most likely type of] person who would have been after her.”
As Business Insider reported earlier, Zellner found something else in the phone records that she believes is her biggest proof of Avery’s innocence. Judging by the location of her last cell phone call based on cell tower data, Halbach had left the Avery auto yard, and Avery’s phone records show that he didn’t leave the property, according to the lawyer.
Zellner faults Avery’s previous legal team, Jerry Buting and Dean Strang, for not using this information during his trial.
“They screwed it up,” she said.
In response to Zellner’s critique of their work, Strang told the magazine, “That she is criticising some aspects of the work I did at trial means that she is doing her job.” Buting declined to comment but did say, “I continue to hope that Steven Avery gets a new trial.”
Known as aggressive in legal circles, Chicago-based Zellner has has successfully won the exoneration of 17 men and almost $90 million from wrongful conviction and medical malpractice lawsuits.
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