New evidence described as “a goldmine” will be presented in the case of Making A Murderer convict Steven Avery – and it could see the prisoner freed as early as next week.
Avery has been in prison in Wisconsin on a life sentence since 2007 for murdering Teresa Halbach. His bail hearing was initially due on February 10, but will now be heard on March 11 amidst claims by Avery’s lawyers of misconduct by the prosecution.
Lawyers for former car mechanic Avery say that 4,000 pages of emails will be released at his bail hearing. And they say the emails are “a goldmine” in Avery’s favour that could potentially see him released instantly.
The delay in hearing Avery’s bail is to give prosecutors time to respond to the corruption allegations made by Avery’s defence team.
The emails are due to be released after a request by US investigative reporter Keegan Kyle. They are emails sent from the Wisconsin prison service. It’s believed they contain vital evidence among correspondence between senior members of prison staff and key individuals in the Sheriff’s department.
Campaigner Shaun Attwood said: “With so many prison staff being related to key people in the Sheriff’s department, that were part of the Avery investigation, all kinds of inside information could be revealed in these emails.
“From internal communications released by the prison, we already know that there are conflicts of interest. So there could be explosive information in there that could blow the lid off this case. It’s an exciting development.”
Chicago lawyer Kathleen Zellner and California-based Douglas Johnson are representing Avery’s appeal case, after the pair were given permission to represent the 53-year-old in court earlier this year.
Zellner vowed to free Avery, saying she “won’t quit until he’s out”, whilst tweeting to discredit the prosecution’s case. She subsequently claimed that advances in forensic testing since the original trial could clear Avery of Halbach’s murder.
The charred remains of Halbach were found on a car lot belonging to the Avery family after the photographer went missing in October 2005.
Netflix’s Making A Murderer documented how Avery was possibly framed by police while awaiting compensation for being wrongly imprisoned for 18 years for rape between 1985-2003.
Avery was convicted of Halbach’s murder alongside his nephew, Brendan Dassey, who could also be freed under the new evidence.
The fresh evidence comes shortly after Making A Murderer director Laura Ricciardi reaffirmed her belief in Avery’s innocence.
Speaking in New York, Ricciardi said: “From our perspective, this story is obviously not over. It’s real life and both Steven Avery’s and Brendan Dassey’s cases are both still pending. We have no idea when the magistrate will make a decision in Brendan’s case.
“We do know that two potential outcomes are that the judge could order Brendan’s release, or he could order a new trial. So we are on the edge of seats about that. To the extent that there are significant developments, we would like to continue documenting this.”
As well as casting light on the progress of Avery’s case, Ricciardi confirmed work on a second series of Making A Murderer.
Meanwhile, around 1,000 people are expected to protest about Avery’s conviction at Parliament Square in London on April 2 as part of a petition organised by Belinda Wilson on Facebook.
Loaded reporter Robert McCallum has written for many leading culture magazines and websites about music, sport, science, politics, fashion and arts. Follow Robert at @therobmccallum