It’s been a little more than a year since a Netflix series on Steven Avery premiered, breathing new life into a case many believed was settled.
Making a Murderer made Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey household names by raising questions around the world about the investigation that led to their convictions for the 2005 rape and murder of Teresa Halbach. The attention brought to the case by the series seemed to revive appeals by Avery and Dassey, who are serving life in prison. A court order this year is allowing new testing of the blood evidence used to convict Avery, while a federal magistrate threw out Dassey’s conviction after finding the then-16-year-old’s confession was coerced.
The state crime lab is currently conducting new tests, which Avery’s attorney has argued could show the blood found in Halbach’s vehicle pre-dates her murder and could point to it being planted there.
In an interview with WRN, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said his agency will do an objective and thorough review of those samples. Still, he said he’s “aware of no evidence that would suggest some other person did this crime…it’s speculation on the part of the defense, it’s what’s a good criminal defense attorney should do.”
As for Dassey, the Department of Justice has appealed the decision to throw out his confession and has fought efforts to release him from prison. The attorney general said Dassey’s rights were not violated, and noted that the judge did not conclude Dassey was innocent or that the statements he made to police were false, just that they were not reliable in court.
Schimel said he welcomes any review prompted by the attention brought on by the series, and noted that it was prior Avery case – his previous false conviction for a rape he didn’t commit – the resulted in reforms to Wisconsin’s criminal justice system. “We are always self-examining,” Schimel said. “We are always looking to see what we can do better.”
Schimel said both men have a right to fight their convictions. Still, he said the continued focus on the case does serves as a constant reminder to the Halbach family. “It’s unfair to somebody…because they don’t get closure, all these years later,” Schimel said.