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Steven Avery (born July 9, 1962) is an American convict who served 18 years on a rape conviction, which DNA analysis later linked to another man. He was exonerated and released from prison. In 2005, he was arrested and convicted of the murder of photographer Teresa Halbach.
At age 18, Avery pleaded guilty to burglarizing a bar and was sentenced to 10 months in prison. When he was 20, Avery and another man pleaded guilty to animal cruelty after pouring gas and oil on Avery's cat and throwing it into a fire; Avery was sentenced to prison again for that crime. In 1985, Avery was charged with assaulting and flashing his cousin and possessing a firearm as a felon, and with the rape for which he was later exonerated. He served six years for assaulting his cousin and illegally possessing firearms, and 12 years for the rape he did not commit.
The Wisconsin Innocence Project took Avery's case and eventually he was exonerated of the rape charge. After his release from prison, Avery and his attorneys (Stephen Glynn and Walter Kelly) filed a $36 million federal lawsuit against Manitowoc County, its former sheriff, Thomas Kocourek, and its former district attorney, Denis Vogel. On October 31, 2005, the same day that Teresa Halbach went missing, state legislators passed the Avery Bill to prevent wrongful convictions. The bill has since been renamed out of respect for the Halbach family.
Sometime during the day on October 31, 2005, photographer Teresa Halbach was scheduled to meet with Steven Avery, one of the owners of Avery Auto Salvage, to photograph a maroon Plymouth Voyager minivan for Auto Trader Magazine. She had been there at least 15 times, taking pictures of other vehicles for the magazine. Halbach disappeared that day.
On November 11, 2005, Avery was charged with the murder of Halbach. Avery protested that authorities were attempting to frame him for Halbach's disappearance to make it harder for him to win his pending civil case regarding the false rape conviction. To avoid any appearance of conflict, Mark R. Rohrer, the Manitowoc County district attorney, requested that neighboring Calumet County authorities lead the investigation. Manitowoc County Circuit Court Judge Patrick Willis presided over the trial.
On March 18, 2007, Steven Avery was found guilty of murdering Halbach, not guilty of mutilating a corpse, and guilty of illegally possessing a firearm. On June 1, 2007, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder. He was also sentenced to 10 years for felony possession of a firearm, to run concurrent to the murder sentence. He is currently housed at Waupun Correctional Institution. In August 2011, a state appeals court denied Steven Avery's appeal to get a new trial on his conviction for the murder of Teresa Halbach.
In popular culture
Unreasonable Inferences is a true crime book about the wrongful conviction of Steven Avery and its aftermath. The book was written by Michael Griesbach, a prosecuting attorney in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. Griesbach played a significant role in some of the events described in his book.
On March 26, 2013, the public radio program, Radiolab, aired an episode titled "Are You Sure?" which featured a 24-minute segment exploring the story of Steven Avery from the perspective of Penny Beernsten, the woman he was accused of raping.
- Jones, Meg, Bob Purvis. "Avery relative to be charged in homicide"[dead link], Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2006-03-02. Retrieved on 2007-02-23.
- Kertscher, Tom (2005-11-11). "Avery to be charged on DNA". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2006-12-09. Retrieved 2007-02-23.[dead link]
- "Timeline in the Steven Avery murder case". Janesville Gazette. 2007-03-18. Retrieved 2007-03-18.[dead link]
- Bruno, Anthony. "The Murder of Teresa Halbach". TruTV. Retrieved 2011-03-28.
- Mike Nichols (10 March 2006). "Unjust jail term didn’t make a monster". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on unknown. Check date values in:
- "Steven Avery's appeal denied". 24 August 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- State v. Avery, 2011 WI App 124
- "Unreasonable Inferences".
- "RadioLab (Season 11, Episode 5) - Reasonable Doubt". 26 March 2013. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
- "The Forgiveness Project - Penny Beernsten". 29 March 2010. Retrieved 30 March 2013.