It's been a month since Netflix debuted its original series, Making A Murderer, a compelling true-crime series that follows the story of Steven Avery, an accused murder who many believe to be innocent. The 10-episode series took 10 years to produce, but fans have quickly made their way through the series and are up to speed on the latest developments in the 2005 murder case of Teresa Halbach. The series shows Avery being found guilty of the crime and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. This leads many fans to wonder if, after all these years, is Steven Avery still in jail?
The short answer is yes. The complicated answer is that Avery's new defense attorneys hope his sentence will change hope that could change with new (and, as of yet, unfound) evidence that could exonerate him. The even more complicated answer is that swaths of fans think he should remain in prison, met with an equally, if not more vocal group of supporters who think Avery has been wrongly convicted and imprisoned. Making a Murderer has left viewers and armchair detectives alike with more questions than answers, and, at the heart of this true crime tale is whether or not Avery should be in prison in the first place for the murder of Halbach.
An Innocent Man
Steven Avery, now 53 years old, was convicted of the rape and attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin in 1985. Although Avery maintained his innocence, it was a slam-dunk case for the prosecution. He was sentenced to 32 years in prison. With help from the Wisconsin Innocence Project, Avery was exonerated and released in 2003, after serving 18 years in prison for crimes he didn't commit.
Avery Files Suit
After his exoneration, Avery filed suit against Manitowoc County, former sheriff Thomas Kocourek, and former district attorney, Denis Vogel, for $36 million dollars. According to the Associated Press, Avery's case settled out of court for $400,000.
Teresa Halbach's Murder
In 2005, Avery was charged with the rape and murder of Teresa Halbach, a local photographer. Some of Halbach's remains were found burned and charred at Avery's salvage yard. Just as with the Beernsten case, Avery maintained he was innocent. Still, Avery was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
As Making a Murderer revealed, there were numerous issues with Avery's trial; Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, creators of Making a Murderer, said in a Twitter Q&A on Jan. 20 that, "MAM isn't about whether or not Avery is guilty. It's about what the state of Wisconsin did or didn't do in its efforts to convict Avery."
New Life in Avery's Case
Avery filed an appeal for a new trial in 2011, but his appeal was denied by the state appeals court and the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to hear his case. It seemed as though, no matter what you may think about Avery's guilt or innocence, this was the end of his legal line. However, on Jan. 11, 2015, Avery filed new appeals citing due process rights violations. His appeal claims that his property was searched with an invalid warrant rendering evidence gathered then inadmissible; Avery also claims that jurors were pressured and bullied by another juror to find him guilty.
Now that Avery has a new defense team to assist him with his latest appeal, there's new life in his case. But until any judicial decisions are made, Avery must remain in the one place he so desperately wants to leave.