Today, Kathleen Zellner, attorney for Steven Avery, filed a motion requesting access to a long list of evidence so that new advanced forensic testing can be conducted in order to prove that her client, as well as his nephew Brendan Dassey, was framed for the murder of Teresa Halbach in 2005. Avery’s case was the subject of the Making a Murderer docuseries on Netflix. Zellner also filed a motion asking the appeals court to essentially press pause on the proceedings until testing is completed.
“Mr. Avery is requesting, and is willing to pay for, the most comprehensive, thorough, and advanced forensic testing ever requested by a criminal defendant in the State of Wisconsin,” Zellner told reporters outside the Manitowoc County Courthouse.
The 45-page motion requests that many pieces of evidence be tested for DNA, including the hood latch on Halbach’s RAV4 and the key to the vehicle found inside Avery’s trailer by Manitowoc County Sheriff’s officers. According to the motion, “more sensitive forensic DNA techniques have been developed that can recover sufficient DNA for profiling from…fingerprints.” Zellner has also requested fingerprints from Andrew Colborn and James Lenk, the two Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department deputies who have long been suspected of planting evidence to frame Avery.
In the motion, Zellner lays out her theory for how Avery was framed, with perhaps the biggest bombshell being a Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department report which documents Colborn discovering Halbach’s car on November 3rd, 2005 – two days before it was officially found in Avery’s Salvage Yard on November 5th. Zellner’s motion contends that the car was moved on the evening of November 4th after law enforcement officers planted evidence inside the car.
“Ms. Halbach’s vehicle was moved from the Fred Radandt Sons, Inc. quarry to the Avery property using the conveyor road that led onto the Avery property from the quarry,” the motion states. “Mr. Avery contends that the blood evidence was planted in Ms. Halbach’s car, by law enforcement, prior to the discovery of the vehicle on the Avery property on November 5, 2005.”
“If the unidentified fingerprints on the victim’s vehicle match either Officer [Andrew] Colborn or Officer [James] Lenk, it would be significant evidence of their involvement in moving the victim’s vehicle onto the Avery property,” Zellner told Newsweek.
The motion also requests newly developed radiocarbon tests to determine whether the samples of Avery’s blood found in Halbach’s car came from a fresh wound or a blood sample that was planted by police.
Zellner also contends that two individuals who were not members of law enforcement went onto the Avery property when it was closed to the public during the investigation, and lied when they were interviewed by police. Individual A appears to be Joshua Radandt, based on Zellner’s claim that “it was impossible for Individual A to observe Mr. Avery’s backyard as he described because of the elevation of the quarry from where he was allegedly making his observations.”
Radandt is the grandson of Fred Radandt, and the former President of Fred Radandt and Sons, a mining company that owned the property surrounding the Avery Salvage Yard – including the quarry where Zellner alleges Halbach’s car was hidden prior to November 5th – until 2014. (That year, they filed for bankruptcy and now a new company, Badgerland Aggregates LLC, also owned by Joshua Radandt, owns the land.) On November 5th, Radandt told police that at 4:30 p.m. on the day of Halbach’s disappearance, he was driving up the quarry road towards the family’s deer-hunting camp and “observed a large fire located by the red house” on the Avery property. This was the first time the authorities were told about a fire, which prosecutors later claimed was Avery burning Halbach’s remains.
In addition to the burn pit behind Avery’s garage and a burn barrel, the quarry was the third location where bones were found during the initial investigation, including a pelvis bone that state expert Dr. Leslie Eisenberg testified she suspected was human. Zellner has requested that these bones be tested to “determine [their] origin.”
Dr. Eisenberg testified at trial that the bones in the burn pit were likely moved prior to being placed there. The motion contends that both the bones and the key to Halbach’s vehicle were planted on the Avery property on November 7th, 2005, the day before they were “discovered” by law enforcement.
The motion also requests testing on a lug wrench and burned items found inside Halbach’s car, as well as burned items found at the Radandt deer hunting camp located just up the quarry road. Given that Radandt is on the record as having been at the deer camp on the afternoon and night of Halbach’s disappearance, the latter request could be taken as an indication that Radandt is on the potential list of suspects Zellner intends to implicate when she files her full brief once the all of the test results are in, which will take about 90 days.
The motion goes on to briefly discuss Individual B, who appears to be Ryan Hillegas, Halbach’s ex-boyfriend, whom the motion contends “misrepresented” that the RAV4’s blinker light had been broken months before.
“The victim’s blinker light was displaced sometime during the sequence of events of either the crime or the transport of the victim’s car onto Mr. Avery’s property,” the motion states. “The blinker light was picked up and placed in the rear cargo area of the victim’s car by the perpetrator or the individual who moved the car onto the Avery property.”
Zellner also claims that Hillegas used a false name to access the Avery property while it was closed to the public, and implies that there is a connection between Hillegas and the planting of Halbach’s car, key and the bones on the Avery property.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice will respond to the motion requesting access to the evidence, though Zellner maintains that a 2007 court order has already guaranteed Avery the right to conduct future DNA tests on any of the evidence being held by authorities, and said she does not anticipate any problems.
“Mr. Avery has already completed a series of tests that will conclusively establish his innocence,” Zellner stated. She says the tests she is requesting now will offer further proof of her client’s innocence and, she believes, offer further evidence to support her theory on who really killed Teresa Halbach.
“No guilty person would ever allow such extensive testing to be done,” Zellner said about Avery’s excitement at the developments in his case. “The fact that Mr. Avery has agreed to all this testing is further proof he’s actually innocent of these crimes.”
Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey were convicted of rape and murder – but Dassey could soon be free. Watch here.