Rockford, Illinois News

‘Making a Murderer’ lawyer stands by blood planting theory

By Jim Hagerty

As Kathleen Zellner, post-conviction attorney for Making a Murderer subject Steven Avery, awaits a ruling about whether he’ll be granted an evidentiary hearing in circuit court, she’s released what she claims is proof that her client’s blood was planted inside Teresa Halbach’s Toyota RAV4 more than 12 years ago.

“The killer took the blood out of (Steven’s) sink,” she told Newsweek.

Although the documentary put Avery’s blood–a vial of it–in the hands of Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Lt. James Lenk, Zellner says it was not police who retrieved it from his sink and quickly planted it in Halbach’s vehicle. In June, she alluded that person was Halbach’s former boyfriend. She’s now, however, thrown Brendan Dassey’s brother, Bobby Dassey, and their stepfather Scott Tadych in the mix as possible suspects.

Regardless of who killed Halbach, or whether Dassey and Tadych committed perjury as Zellner charges, she says bloodstain pattern analyst Stuart James recreated using the actual sink and similar RAV4 is how her team believes the killer set Avery up for murder.

Zellner claims the killer, looking for something of Avery’s to link him to the crime, entered the trailer and used various possible instruments, including a Q-tip, to grab the blood and transfer it to the Toyota in less than three minutes. She claims James’ experiment proves the blood did not come from a cut on Avery’s finger from which prosecutors claimed he was actively bleeding. Zellner also claims some of the blood was dry, flakes that sat on top of carpet fibers, indicating it was deliberately sprinkled there.

Accused Steven Avery, center, is escorted by law enforcement officers at the Manitowoc County Court after break during jury selection in his murder trial, Tuesday Feb. 6, 2007, Manitowoc, Wis. Avery is accused along with his 17-year-old nephew of killing and burning the body of photographer Teresa Halbach, 25, after she went to the family’s rural salvage lot to photograph a minivan they had for sale.

Had Avery been bleeding from his finger, Zellner says, the blood would have soaked into the carpet.

In short, Zellner claims Avery cut his finger days earlier and reopened the wound by handling a trailer for his sister, Barb Tadych. He bled into his sink on Nov 3, 2005, but did not clean it up. Instead, he wrapped his finger in tape and left the property with his brother. The next morning, he noticed the sink had been cleaned. Zellner claims the killer retrieved the blood while Avery and his brother were away buying lumber in Manitowoc.
The RAV4 was found two days later.

Whether Zellner will have a chance to argue the “evidence” she presented in a motion she filed in June is currently hanging in the balance of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. A circuit court judge denied the motion in October. If the higher court overturns that ruling, the case will be sent back to the circuit court for an evidentiary hearing. Avery is serving life in prison without parole.

Officials from Manitowoc and Calumet counties in Wisconsin deny that law enforcement or anyone else framed Steven Avery and that the now 55-year-old is guilty as charged.

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