Steven Avery

Steven Avery following his exoneration in 2003

Steven Avery, at the age of 22, was wrongfully convicted of rape. He spent almost 20 years in prison before being exonerated through DNA testing in 2003. After winning his freedom, Steven filed a civil lawsuit against Manitowoc County, its former sheriff, and former district attorney, seeking to recover $36 million in damages stemming from his wrongful conviction. Depositions began in September and continued through October. On October 31, 2005, photographer Teresa Halbach went missing after having visited Avery’s property to photograph a vehicle. Steven was arrested just 10 days later and eventually charged with Halbech’s murder. He and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, were convicted following a staged investigation conducted by Manitowoc County Sherriff’s Department—the same department Steven had filed suit against.

The Netflix documentary series “Making A Murderer” followed Steven Avery’s 2006 trial for Halbach’s murder. Since its premiere in November 2015, people around the world have joined together to call for Steven’s release after they too saw the evidence of misconduct on the part of Manitowoc County.

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Steven Avery during his most recent trial in 2006

Steven is now 54; he has spent 29 years behind bars. He is currently represented by Kathleen Zellner, who has successfully exonerated 17 men and women. Midwest Innocence Project Director Tricia Bushnell is licensed to practice in Wisconsin and assists Kathleen as local counsel. Steven’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, is represented by Steve Drizin and Laura Nirider of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth.

Learn about the issues and support the work of MIP in freeing innocent individuals like Steven Avery by donating here.

Read the Motion for Post-Conviction Scientific Testing here.