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  1. #1
    Piggybank Cop's Avatar
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    Man Freed by DNA Found Guilty in Slaying

    Man Freed by DNA Found Guilty in Slaying
    By CARRIE ANTLFINGER, Associated Press Writer1 hour ago


    CHILTON, Wis. - Lawyers for a man who spent 18 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit say he has been wrongly convicted for a second time, this time in the murder of a photographer whose charred bones were found in a burn pit outside his home.

    A jury convicted Steven Avery on Sunday of killing Teresa Halbach, 25, on Halloween 2005 near his family's salvage yard. Jurors rejected Avery's contention that he was framed by the same sheriff's department that helped wrongly put him behind bars for a 1985 rape.

    Halbach disappeared Oct. 31, 2005, after going to the yard in rural Manitowoc County to photograph a minivan that Avery's sister was selling through Auto Trader Magazine. Avery had called that morning to request the photo, testimony showed.

    Avery, 44, put his head down and shook it when the verdict was read. He faces a mandatory life prison term. No sentencing date has been set.

    Defense attorney Dean Strang said they had just been "kicked in the gut," but Avery is not despondent.

    "Our criminal justice system failed Steven Avery badly in 1985," Strang said. "It failed him time and time again after 1985 and here this is one more failure in spite of everyone's best efforts."

    They will consider challenging the conviction with motions that would be filed within 30 days, Strang said.

    Halbach's brother said his sister "showed the jury the way, I think."

    "She's here in spirit and she's smiling," said Mike Halbach, 24.

    Two years before Halbach died, Avery was released from prison after serving 18 years for a Manitowoc County rape that DNA analysis showed he did not commit. He later settled a wrongful-conviction lawsuit against the county for $400,000 and used it for his defense.

    Days after her disappearance, Halbach's cousins found her vehicle in the salvage lot under branches, pieces of wood and car parts.

    Investigators who then spent a week on the 40-acre property found her bone fragments in a pit, Avery's and her blood in her vehicle and two guns hanging above Avery's bed. A rifle was linked to a bullet found in Avery's garage with Halbach's DNA on it.

    The jury convicted Avery of first-degree intentional homicide and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was acquitted of mutilating a corpse.

    Jurors deliberated for nearly 22 hours over three days after hearing a month of testimony from about 60 witnesses. The jurors issued a statement saying none would discuss the case.

    Avery's nephew Brendan Dassey is due for trial next month. In March 2006, he confessed to helping kill and rape Halbach.

    Prosecutors then added charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment to Avery's case. But Dassey recanted his confession and rejected a plea deal that would have required him to testify against his uncle.

    The judge dismissed the sexual assault and kidnapping charges against Avery in January because prosecutors could not guarantee the nephew would testify. The judge dismissed the false imprisonment charge last week, saying the jurors didn't have enough evidence to convict Avery of the charge.

    Mike Halbach said his family expects Dassey's trial to have a similar outcome after it begins April 16.

    In closing arguments, Strang told jurors their verdict could "set a lot of things right" for Avery because of his previous wrongful conviction.

    "The 1985 case won't matter so much anymore if justice is done this time," he said.

    But in rebuttal, special prosecutor Ken Kratz said it was "absolutely improper" for the defense to ask jurors to take the old case into account. He said DNA evidence pointed to Avery.

    Avery had claimed Manitowoc County Sheriff's Sgt. Andrew Colborn and Lt. James Lenk, angered or embarrassed by the wrongful-conviction lawsuit, planted Avery's blood in Halbach's vehicle.

    The lawyers claimed the blood came from an unsecured vial from Avery's appeals in the rape case. They also claimed the bones were moved to where they were found.

    To acquit Avery, Kratz said, the jury would have to have believed someone else killed Halbach and "skillfully exploited" the officials' supposed animosity to frame Avery for the killing.

    After the verdict, Kratz said it was inappropriate to accuse two officers during the trial of committing crimes.

    Colborn and Lenk testified they never planted evidence. Manitowoc County Sheriff Rob Hermann said a judge's gag order prevented him, Lenk and Colborn from commenting.

    Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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  2. #2
    BigDawg's Avatar
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    DNA got him out of prison and DNA put him back into prison.



    Can anyone say sweet justice????
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  3. #3
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    Those who live by DNA will die by it.

  4. #4
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    The problem with DNA is that he may have indeed committed the rape 18 years ago, but just never was able to get his "jolly rogers" off, so his DNA wasn't found.

    Just because a burglar doesn't leave his fingerprints, but other fingerprints are found in a house, that shouldn't automatically free him - I would hope that a lot of circumstances would be considered, such as where any other DNA was found and all that.
    Last edited by TXCharlie; 03-19-07 at 12:14 PM.

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    The 1985 case won't matter so much anymore if justice is done this time," he said.
    I bet it matters to Theresa Halbach and her family... especially since this pos would have been locked away and unable to rape and murder her had he been still locked up from that case.

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  6. #6
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  7. #7
    BEB
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    I'm confused on this one. Was the DNA evidence absent in the 1985 case or did it not match? (assuming the victim lived to tell us there was only one assailant)

    Assuming for a moment he was innocent of the first one if I'm part of the Halbach family I'm pissed and want to know every stinkin detail of that previous case. Because if he was innocent the state sent a 24 year old to convict training school for 18 years, and upon graduation...

    No, it doesn't excuse him in any way for what he did. Not in the very slightest way.

  8. #8
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    I knew this POS when I was a Sgt. for the DOC. He was in my housing unit, and even the other inmates hated him. It was a SMURF Unit, and he was on the bottom of the scale. As far as his spending 18 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit, while he spent 18 years locked-up, it wasn't all for the rape. I don't recall what he was initially locked up for, but he was serving a sentence for the rape when he was exonerated through DNA evidence. In 1985 there wasn't the sophistication in testing DNA that there is today. His 17-year old nephew, who helped him torture, rape, kill and burn the body goes on trial in a week or 2. He has already confessed, but of course he recanted. Even though he was only 15 when the crime occured, he was waived into adult court. I hope he get celled-up with some big old gay Bubba!
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  9. #9
    TXCharlie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BugEyedBeast View Post
    I'm confused on this one. Was the DNA evidence absent in the 1985 case or did it not match? (assuming the victim lived to tell us there was only one assailant).
    That's what I was wondering too... But assuming that there was DNA, and they thought it matched at trial but are now saying it's not a match, what they're looking at could be the DNA from a boyfriend, accomplice, or anyone... But that doesn't mean that was the ONLY evidence.

    So my question would be whether there was other evidence and facts - Normally, just because the DNA isn't a match doesn't necessarily negate any other facts of the case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TXCharlie View Post
    That's what I was wondering too... But assuming that there was DNA, and they thought it matched at trial but are now saying it's not a match, what they're looking at could be the DNA from a boyfriend, accomplice, or anyone... But that doesn't mean that was the ONLY evidence.

    So my question would be whether there was other evidence and facts - Normally, just because the DNA isn't a match doesn't necessarily negate any other facts of the case.
    The victim also positively identified him in the rape.
    For the morning will come. Brightly will it shine on the brave and true, kindly upon all who suffer for the cause, glorious upon the tombs of heroes. Thus will shine the dawn.

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