Steven Avery of 'Making a Murderer' Requests Advanced Forensic Testing Amid Claims Officers Planted Evidence

Avery was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2007.

ByABC News
August 26, 2016, 6:25 PM
Steven Avery is escorted into a Calumet County courtroom during the opening day in his murder trial, Feb. 12, 2007, in Chilton, Wis.
Steven Avery is escorted into a Calumet County courtroom during the opening day in his murder trial, Feb. 12, 2007, in Chilton, Wis.
Morry Gash/AP Photo

— -- Steven Avery, the center of Netflix's hit series "Making a Murderer," made a request today for more forensic testing, which his lawyers call "the most comprehensive, thorough, and advanced forensic testing ever requested by a criminal defendant in the State of Wisconsin."

In the 45-page motion, Avery asks for "post-conviction testing of physical evidence," noting that since his 2007 trial, "considerable progress has been made in forensic DNA methods, procedures and tests, including the development of tests for the specific detection of blood, saliva, semen and urine."

Avery's motion says he is willing to pay for testing.

Avery was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2007 for the murder of Teresa Halbach. But when the Netflix series "Making a Murderer" was released last December, it created renewed interest in his case and led many to believe that Avery was wrongly convicted.

Avery has claimed law enforcement planted samples of his blood, collected from Avery during a previous case, in Halbach's car before it was discovered by police on Nov. 5, 2005. In today’s filing, Avery accuses James Lenk and Andrew Colborn of the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office of being “connected to” the discovery of every item of evidence that he says was planted. Lenk and Colborn both denied planting evidence during the 2007 trial, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported at the time.

Avery is now seeking "body fluid source testing that could identify the source of the bodily fluids found on the victim’s vehicle key and hood latch," according to the motion, including saliva and blood testing. New technology can now distinguish whether DNA comes from blood, saliva, semen or urine, according to the filing, and Avery says if he was bleeding from his finger as prosecutors say, there should be blood on the hood latch.

Avery is also asking for radiocarbon testing, "which could definitively establish the age of Mr. Avery’s blood found in the victim’s vehicle and determine, based on the age, if the blood was planted," the motion says.

His lawyers are requesting new DNA testing on evidence that had not been screened before, including the battery cable, the interior hood release and the blinker light of the victim’s car. Moreover, Avery's defense team is asking for advanced DNA analysis on previously-tested items, such as the license plates and swabs taken from the vehicle, and trace testing to determine if chemical solvents were used to remove DNA.

The advanced testing of previously obtained fingerprints of two officers, as well as DNA testing of the alleged human pelvic bones recovered from the quarry, has been requested as well.

Avery’s attorney has asked for his appeal to be put on hold until a ruling is made about the testing.

After Netflix released the series, Kathleen Zellner, a high-profile attorney with experience representing wrongfully convicted clients, took on Avery's case.

Zellner told ABC News today in an exclusive interview, "We’re going to be able to take the mystery out of this case."

"We will be able to show whether this evidence was planted or not on each of these items,” she said. “If evidence was planted on any items the case will collapse. But we believe the evidence was planted on all these items. Mr. Avery had nothing to do with the murder of Teresa Halbach."

The motion "covers all types of testing" but the main “effort here is to date the blood,” Zellner said. “How old was the blood that was found in the car that linked Mr. Avery? Mr. Avery's never given a confession in this case and all that links him to the crime are few pieces of evidence. And we start with his blood in the victim's car."Zellner, who has been involved in the case since January, said in the last 7 months she's re-investigated the case and has developed evidence against another suspect.

She said collected evidence “points to one person. And that’s a person that I think was right there the whole time but never investigated. Because Mr. Avery was framed on this case right away."

She said that evidence will be presented “in our post-conviction petition when the testing’s done."

Zellner called the decision earlier this month to overturn the conviction of Avery's nephew Brendan Dassey - who was also convicted of murdering Halbach - "an important step."

The overturning of Dassey’s conviction “was very important to us because his confession ... would still have been hanging over our case," Zellner said. But now, Dassey’s “confession has been invalidated."

In a statement, Earl Avery, Steven Avery's brother, said: "I hope the public sees no one who was guilty would be asking for all these tests."

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