There is a lot to digest – and I’m only talking about the 220 or so pages for Steven Avery’s post-conviction motion filed Wednesday by suburban Chicago lawyer Kathleen Zellner.
As of this writing, more is on the way: another 1,000 pages of exhibits and other corroborating evidence that serve as building blocks for Zellner’s filing. My story here: http://post.cr/2smeJeP
Does Zellner have what it takes to overturn Avery’s conviction or force the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office to abandon its long-held belief that Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey attacked and murdered 25-year-old Teresa Halbach in premeditated fashion?
That remains to be seen and the coming months will bear that out.
Some people – including Zellner – are convinced that the events of March 1-2, 2006 – the suspicious reprocessing of Avery’s garage by people who were on the property such as Manitowoc County sheriff’s detectives Dennis Jacobs, Dave Remiker and James Lenk – will ultimately lead to the unraveling of special prosecutor Ken Kratz’s courtroom story line.
Keep in mind, Lenk, Remiker and Colborn and Dan Kucharski had already processed Avery’s garage multiple times during the time frame around Nov. 6, 2005. They looked for bullets on their hands and knees at that time and found none that contained any DNA, brain matter, blood spray or trace evidence to tie Steven Avery to Halbach’s homicide.
Then, four months later, out to bolster their prosecution of Avery and Brendan Dassey, another search was orchestrated. Certain Manitowoc sheriff’s deputies were back on the Avery property – including one of the detectives also suspected of planting the spare key.
This time, a couple of bullet fragments turned up in the garage. Afterward, Ken Kratz presented testimony from Sherry Culhane suggesting Halbach’s DNA was definitely on a bullet fragment.
As of June 7, 2017, a new narrative unfolded – per Zellner’s post-conviction motion. Will the testimony of scientist Christopher Palenik of Microtrace Laboratory be the difference maker Zellner has pursued over these past 18 months? Palenik bio here: http://bit.ly/2ra5dM4
“Dr. Palenik will testify that ‘there is no evidence to indicate that the bullet passed through bone. In fact, the particulate evidence that is present strongly suggests an alternate hypothesis, which is that the trajectory of the fired bullet took it into a wooden object, possibly a manufactured wood product.'”
Zellner’s filing continues. “Furthermore, the presence of red droplets deposited on the bullet suggests that the bullet had picked up additional contamination from its environment at some point after coming to rest (that is, droplets of potential red paint or a red liquid).”
In her conclusion, Zellner writes: “The State’s theory that Ms. Halbach’s cause of death was the result of being shot twice in the head with .22-caliber long rifle bullets is completely disproven by Dr. Palenik’s testing. Because Dr. Palenik has determined that the damaged bullet never passed through bone (that is Ms. Halbach’s skull) the State’s evidence that Ms. Halbach’s DNA was found on the damaged bullet is completely discredited.”
Avery supporters will hail this set of forensic test results as a sure bet for Avery release. In contrast, people who already convinced themselves that Avery and his nephew committed the killing will brush off Dr. Palenik’s findings.
In the grand scheme of things, it will be up to one person and one person only to render a verdict. Her name is Angela Sutkiewicz and she has been a judge in Sheboygan since 2010.