Making a Murderer: 5 important updates about Steven Avery case

Posted Jan 14, 2016 by David Silverberg
You finished Netflix's hit documentary series Making a Murderer and are now hungry for the latest Steven Avery news. Below are five important updates, and note they may contain spoilers for those who haven't finished watching the doc.
The title image of Making a Murderer documentary series.
The title image of Making a Murderer documentary series.
Via Netflix
If you haven't heard of the 10-part series everyone is talking about, the short summary is: Making a Murderer looks at the case of Wisconsin native Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey surrounding the 2005 murder of 25-year-old Teresa Halbach. Two years before the homicide, Avery had been exonerated in a rape case for which he served 18 years in prison. The series questions the investigation and trial that put Avery and his nephew behind bars, and alleges that the investigators and police in the case planted evidence and manipulated the outcome of the trial.
The Netflix series has become a surprising hit, with arguments over Avery's innocence taking over coffee shops and offices worldwide (as it has at Digital Journal HQ).
But since Netflix has released the true-crime series, there have been some key developments in Avery's case, despite his 2005 life-in-prison conviction for the murder of Halbach, and Dassey's conviction for being complicit in the homicide.
Below are the five most important updates on what's next for Avery:

Another appeal for innocence

On Jan. 12, Avery filed an appeal with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, asking the judge to toss out his conviction because he wants the judge to declare a mistrial. His allegations stem from a particular juror in the trial who he claims was aggressively trying to persuade other jurors to convict Avery. Avery alleges this juror repeatedly said things like Avery is “f–king guilty.” Avery says the one juror also told the other jurors, “If you can’t handle it why don’t you tell [the judge] and just leave.”

New lawyer, new hope?

Earlier this year, it was reported that defense attorney Kathleen Zellner will take on Avery's case. She is teaming up with the Midwest Innocence Project, an organization known to work with those who claim they are wrongfully convicted. Zellner has long worked on exonerating the wrongfully convicted, as explained in this Chicago Lawyer Magazine profile that named her Lawyer of the Year in 2014.
The profile wrote:
Zellner, 57, has become a standard bearer among civil rights attorneys and has long been known as a fierce courtroom advocate — armed with a recorder-like memory, trial techniques that include videotaped re-enactments of crime scenes and, perhaps most crucially for her clients, an ability to elicit the truth from co-defendants or witnesses who have previously lied about innocent defendants’ involvement in crimes in order to save themselves.
Zellner is very active on Twitter, and recently tweeted:

Petitioning a pardon

More than 170,000 people have signed online petitions calling for a presidential pardon to free Avery and his nephew Dassey. When a petition crosses the 100,000-signature mark, the White House must consider it and offer a statement. In a statement, the White House said that President Obama did not have the power to free the men from prison, explaining that since the conviction occurred at a state level, only the Wisconsin Governor would have the authority to free Avery and Dassey.

Was Avery an abusive partner?

Yes, according to his ex-fiancee Jodi Stachowski, who seemed supportive of Avery in the Netflix docuseries. But in statement reported this week, she claims Avery is a "monster" and threatened to kill her unless she made “him look good” in the program.
“He would beat me all the time, punch me, throw me against the wall,” she told reporters. “I ate two boxes of rat poison just so I could go the hospital and get away from him.”

What you need to know about the pierced blood vial

One of the defense's reportedly "Eureka!" moments featured in Making a Murder focused on a blood vial of Avery's, which they claim had a piercing on the top of the tube which was meant to advance its framing theory. But the prison nurse who originally drew Avery’s blood and put it into the vial "would testify that she was the one who put the hole in the vacutainer tube at issue," a court document obtained by OnMilwaukee says.
But the nurse wasn't called to testify because prosecutors didn't give that theory enough water to offer a rebuttal to it. Also worth noting is that two national experts – including the chair of the committee that writes the industry standards on drawing blood samples – told OnMilwaukee that "such blood vials are supposed to have holes pierced in their rubber stoppers. According to the experts, that’s how the blood gets into the vial."