MANITOWOC, Wis. (AP) — The lawyer for a Wisconsin man convicted in a case profiled in the “Making a Murderer” Netflix series says an agreement to start independent scientific testing on several critical pieces of evidence has been signed.
USA Today Network-Wisconsin reports the agreement was filed Wednesday with Angela Sutkiewicz, the special judge appointed to oversee Steven Avery’s appeal. It comes nearly three months after Avery’s lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, pledged she had a plan to overturn his 2007 conviction.
Zellner said it’s encouraging that the attorney general’s office was “helpful in expediting these tests.”
Avery was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of first-degree intentional homicide in the 2005 death of 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach in Manitowoc County.
Evidence to be tested includes a vial of blood said to be a sample of Avery’s blood from 1996, a spare key for Halbach’s sport utility vehicle found in Avery’s bedroom by sheriff’s deputies, and the swab from the hood latch of Halbach’s vehicle that later generated a DNA profile for Avery.
Zellner has said she wants to determine if the hood latch DNA swab was fabricated from other known DNA samples that law enforcement officers had in their possession.
Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, was also sentenced to life in prison in Halbach’s death. He confessed to detectives that he helped his uncle rape and kill Halbach in the Avery family’s salvage yard.
But in August, U.S. Magistrate Judge William Duffin ruled that investigators coerced Dassey, who was 16 years old at the time and suffered from cognitive problems, into confessing and overturned his conviction. State attorneys are appealing the decision.
Avery and Dassey contend they were framed by law enforcement angry with Avery for filing a lawsuit against Manitowoc County over his wrongful imprisonment for a sexual assault he didn’t commit.
Their cases gained national attention last year after Netflix aired the multi-part documentary examining Halbach’s death.