Note: This article contains spoilers for Making a Murderer Part 2.
Making a Murderer brought Kathleen Zellner into our lives, and it’s safe to say that viewers (included us) are totally obsessed.
The kickass defence attorney has been representing Steven Avery since 2016, and Part 2 of the documentary series followed her every move as she worked towards appealing his 2007 conviction.
Zellner presented a ream of new Making a Murderer evidence, also raising suspicion around Bobby Dassey (Brendan Dassey’s brother) as one possible suspect.
But viewers, having digested the ten new episodes, were still left with lots of questions. But the all important one: what is Kathleen Zellner doing now?
The final episode of Part 2 showed that Avery is still in prison, continuing to serve his life sentence for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach. The documentary may be finished, at least for now, but Zellner’s journey in fighting for her client’s freedom is only just beginning.
She’s been sharing some pretty big updates with fans over on Twitter, and here are the biggest revelations to come from her Q&A.
While filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos have spoken in favour of a Making a Murderer 3, Kathleen has confirmed that (as of time of writing) they’re not currently documenting her movements.
However, with her own law firm, we know that she’s likely to have a whole load of other cases to be going on with as well. So perhaps they’re simply waiting for a breakthrough in Avery’s case before getting out the cameras again…
This is a very complicated question, and one that doesn’t have just one answer.
As we laid out in our review of Making a Murderer Part 2, this has an awful lot to do with the bigger picture surrounding the functionality of the US justice system – a theme that is explored particularly cleverly in the second instalment of the Netflix hit.
But now Kathleen has shared some new thoughts on the situation. On October 25, she wrote: “Wisconsin’s AG [Attorney General] Schimel knows if SA [Steven Avery] were given a new trial he would win [because] he would have scientific experts…
“[He] would use the evidence Kratz concealed. Fighting us every step to keep 2 innocent men locked up.”
His attorney has widely shared that she believes Avery to be at the “beginning” of his fight for freedom, not the end – despite the fact that, in episode 10, we saw his request for a retrial being denied by Judge Angela Sutkiewicz.
Since the release of MaM 2, Zellner has revealed that their appellate brief is due on December 20. For those unsure of the legal terminology, this is a document submitted to an appeals court, by a lawyer, containing all the legal arguments as to why their client should win the case.
“We have multiple opportunities to overturn this wrongful conviction,” Kathleen said.
Zellner has revealed that the road will not end there; it will simply be a speed bump.
“We’d appeal that decision to the Wisconsin Supreme Court,” she tweeted on October 23. “If we’ve developed new evidence, we’d re-file at the trial court level in Wisconsin.”
Zellner then went on to explain why she would be reluctant to follow a certain path in the judicial system. “AEDPA is a big deterrent to filing in federal court as you can see given the outcome of the Dassey case,” she added.
We’ve detailed exactly what AEDPA is, and the impact it has had on the appeals process in the US, in our handy Making a Murderer glossary.
This was a big theme of The Staircase documentary series, which saw its subject Michael Peterson taking the plea rather than going through another trial.
An Alford plea means that a defendant does not actually admit guilt, but still pleads guilty, in the acknowledgement that the evidence is substantial enough for a conviction (whatever the truth may be).
“I’m opposed to the Alford plea in cases such as this when there is no pressure from a death penalty conviction,” Avery’s lawyer said.
She followed up with another tweet a few days later, which further explained: “No matter what may be offered, a plea deal, a shortened sentence, an Alford plea SA [Steven Avery] will never ever accept anything other than a complete exoneration. Innocence is not negotiable.”
Lenk, Fassbender, Kratz… There’s a list of justice system employees who many believe might have hindered justice for Avery and his nephew.
Sergeant Colborn seems to have raised the most questions, what with the mysterious phone call identifying Teresa Halbach’s car and the fact that some of the key evidence in Avery’s trailer was discovered on his watch.
But will he ever face any kind of investigation? According to Zellner, that could be part of the plan a little later down the road – but it’s not a possibility right now.
“Until we are successful in overturning Avery’s conviction, we cannot proceed with a civil rights case against any of the bad actors,” she explained. “Once the conviction if overturned [sic], we will definitely proceed against Sgt. Colborn in a civil rights question.”
The defence attorney alleges that someone, somewhere, presumably involved in the case, ‘came clean’ to her claiming that Avery is, in fact, innocent.
And, according to Zellner, Avery’s prints were not found.
“There were eight sets of latent prints that were unidentified,” she tweeted. “However, the prints ruled out Steven and Brendan.”
By now we should all be aware that Avery’s blood was found in the vehicle – the prosecution argued that this came from an open cut on his finger (therefore ruling out the idea that he might have worn gloves), and the defence claimed the blood was planted.
This begs the question: how was his blood there, but not his fingerprints?
As if lying at trial and the horrific contents of Dassey’s computer weren’t enough, Zellner has now revealed that cellphone records undermine his story that he went hunting on the afternoon of Teresa’s murder.
“We have been able to determine his location through cellphone pings, and he was not at the location he claimed to be,” Zellner said.
What’s more, she also revealed that “Bobby’s vehicle has been crushed”, and therefore cannot be forensically tested.
Is it just us, or does this case just keep getting murkier?
Making a Murderer Part 1 and Part 2 are now streaming on Netflix.
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