TheWrap takes a look back at the last eight months to see how “Making a Murderer” changed the case of Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, who were convicted for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach.
Making a Murderer Gets Released
The documentary was released on Dec. 18, 2015. At first, it received an approval rating of 87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Ken Kratz was Bashed on Yelp
A week after the doc aired, doc fans took to Yelp to warn potential new clients checking his law practice’s Yelp page against hiring him.
“Mr. Kratz is a seasoned sexual harasser, with deep knowledge of abuse victims which he took advantage of. He has a long experience in evidence fabrication, and has the required strategic thought skills to send innocent men to jail for forged crimes,” one man wrote in a Yelpreview posted Sunday. “When you think of garbage think of Mr. Kratz, he is the living representation of immorality and indecency that you need by your side to solve any legal issues.”
White House Petition
A White House Petition was started shortly after the documentary’s release, asking for the pardoning of both Avery and Dassey. It required 100,000 signatures before Jan. 19 to be eligible for an official White House review.
Avery Can’t be Pardoned by Obama
Although there was a White House Petition to pardon Avery, President Barack Obama is constitutionally barred from pardoning Avery, because he was convicted in state court.
Protests Outside of the Courthouse
In January, people protested outside the Manitowoc County Courthouse.
Supporters traveled from as far as Texas, Florida and Oregon. The event was live streamed on Periscope drawing hundreds of people online, some from out of the country like Belgium.
The Family Launched a Fundraising Website
In January, the uncle/nephew combo found guilty in the killing of a local photographer launched a fundraising website through their family in an attempt to raise money to mount another defense effort.
Avery Hires a New Lawyer
Avery hired Kathleen Zellner, an Illinois-based attorney who specializes in wrongful convictions, in January.
“The Zellner Law Firm is looking forward to adding Mr. Avery to its long list of wrongful conviction exonerations,” Zellner’s statement read.
Avery’s Ex-Fiancee Calls Him a “Monster,’ ‘Not Innocent’
Jodi Stachowski, the ex-fiancee of Avery, says he is a “monster” and that “he’s not innocent” in the murder of Halbach.
In a January interview with HLN’s Nancy Grace, Stachowski admitted that she “ate two boxes of rat poison just so I could go to the hospital to get away from him and ask them to get the police to help me.”
Halbach’s Family Think The Doc Is ‘Terrible’
“It’s terrible,” Teresa Halbach’s aunt, Kay Giordana, told People. “I can’t believe this came out. It is really unfortunate.”
Bomb Threat at Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department
On Feb. 3, a bomb threat was called into the Sheriff’s Department. Authorities say that the caller claimed “there were bombs in the building” and that he was “getting justice” for Steven Avery, the man at the forefront of the series, who was convicted of the murder of Teresa Halbach after being exonerated for a rape he didn’t commit.
Investigation Discovery Aired a Special About the Case
The special, aired in February, claimed that 16 people testified to his whereabouts, saying that Avery could not have been Penny Beernsten’s sexual attacker in 1985, and that all vials of blood have a puncture hole (this was a piece of key evidence that was used to suggest law enforcement had framed Avery), among other revelations.
Transcripts Suggested Avery Touched Dassey Inappropriately
In February, TheWrap obtained transcripts from a May 13, 2006 interview, in which Dassey told police that Avery sometimes tried to grab his penis “through the pants.” In a phone call later that day to his mother, Barb Tadych, Dassey said he told police that Avery “would grab me somewhere where I was uncomfortable.”
But Dassey Denied the Sexual Abuse
After TheWrap was told that reporters and lawyers ignored the possibility that Avery molested Dassey, a 2006 mental evaluation revealed psychologist Robert H. Gordon’s conclusion that Dassey had not been molested.
“Brendan reported having no history of being physically or sexually abused,” Gordon wrote.
Steven Avery Jr. Doesn’t Know If His Father is Guilty
Avery’s son had “no idea” whether his father is guilty of the murder of Teresa Halbach, for which he’s currently serving life in prison.
“I have no idea,” Steven Avery Jr. told Crime Watch Daily in an interview. “I mean … only one person can answer that and that is Teresa. But she can’t answer it no more.”
Ken Kratz, Michael Griesbach Published Tell-All Books
Both Kratz and Michael Griesbach, the latter being a prosecutor responsible for helping Avery get out of jail in his first case, wrote a tell-all book chronicling the case and its representation in “Making a Murderer.”
Kathleen Zellner Says There Are “a Couple” New Suspects
In an in-depth profile published in March by Newsweek, Zellner said that she has found “a couple” of suspects, both men who knew Halbach.
“We have a couple,” Zellner, who specializes in wrongful convictions, said. “I’d say there’s one, leading the pack by a lot. But I don’t want to scare him off, I don’t want him to run.”
Ken Kratz Admitted to Suicidal Thoughts
Ken Kratz told Dr. Drew that he had suicidal thoughts after “this whole thing kind of blew up,” referring to the Avery Case and an Associated Press report exposing racy texts he sent to a 25-year-old woman while Kratz was prosecuting her ex-boyfriend.
Kathleen Zellner Will Be in Sequel
In May, one of the filmmakers, Laura Ricciardi, told TimeOut London that she and Moira Demos have “been talking to Kathleen Zellner about the potential of filming with her and continuing the story.”
Prison Emails Were Released
In June, USA Today obtained more than 1,900 pages of emails after the publication requested the documents under state opens records laws on January 26. The paper asked for emails sent or received by staff that pertained to Avery, Dassey or “Making a Murderer.”
“Making a Murderer” Gets New Episodes
In July, it was announced that “Making a Murderer” is set to return to Netflix with new episodes that are already in production.
The coming installments will follow up with convicted murderer Steven Avery and his co-defendant, Brendan Dassey, as their respective investigative and legal teams challenge their convictions.
Brendan Dassey’s Conviction Overturned
In August, Dassey had his conviction overturned.
Federal magistrate judge William E. Duffin granted Dassey’s writ for a petition of habeas corpus, finding that Dassey’s imprisonment was unlawful because his confession to the murder of Teresa Halbach was involuntary.
In reaching that decision, Duffin wrote that the “misconduct” of Len Kachinsky, Dassey’s court-appointed attorney, was “indefensible.”
Motion for Evidence Filed
On August 27, Zellner filed a motion demanding physical evidence from the murder of Teresa Halbach for further scientific testing that she claims didn’t exist during the trial.
In the filing, Zellner revealed that “Mr. Avery has already completed a series of tests that will conclusively establish his innocence” and that she intends to reveal the identity of an alternate suspect once she has the test results.
Zellner Teases Brendan Dassey Decision
Zellner teased the media and documentary fans on Sept. 2, tweeting a picture of a man she helped exonerate in a murder case, who held a signing saying “It is over.” A spokesperson from the Wisconsin DOJ denied all media speculation about the fate of Dassey.
State Will Appeal Dassey’s Overturned Conviction
The state of Wisconsin said they would appeal Dassey’s overturned conviction, saying that his confession “was voluntary and the investigators did not use constitutionally impermissible tactics.”
Avery is Engaged
On Sept. 24, news broke that Avery is engaged to be married. The betrothed is Lynn Hartman, identified as a legal secretary — which might come in handy — from Las Vegas. The couple has reportedly been dating for eight months but have only met in person once.
Brendan Dassey Will Be Released
On Nov. 14, a judge ordered Dassey’s supervised release, pending possible retrial.
According to court documents obtained by TheWrap, U.S. Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin granted Dassey’s motion for release conditional upon his supervision by the U.S. Probation Office. Dassey will not be allowed to obtain a passport and can only travel in the court’s Eastern District of Wisconsin. He is not allowed to possess a weapon or any controlled substances.
Wisconsin DOJ Files Emergency Motion
On Tuesday, Attorney General Brad Schimel filed an emergency motion to stay Dassey’s release.
Dassey Will Be Home for Thanksgiving
Dassey will be home for Thanksgiving after the judge in his case rejected the state’s latest motion.
According to a Wisconsin Department of Justice release obtained by TheWrap, Dassey will be discharged from prison no later than Friday at 8 p.m. Attorney General Brad Schimel plans to file an emergency motion on Wednesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit seeking a stay of this release order.
Nope, He Won’t Be Home For Thanksgiving
On Nov. 17, the judge ordered that Dassey will remain in prison pending an appeal of his overturned conviction, Attorney General Brad Schimel said.
“Moments ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit granted the State of Wisconsin’s motion to stay U.S. Magistrate Judge William Duffin’s order to release Mr. Brendan Dassey. Mr. Dassey will remain in prison pending the outcome of the appeal,” Schimel’s office said in a release.
Fellow Inmate Says Avery Confessed to the Murder
Joseph Evans, who is serving a life sentence for murdering his wife, alleges in a nine-page letter published on the Rockford Advocate that Avery described raping and killing Halbach.
“He said he put the knife to Teresa’s throat as he guided her to his bedroom,” Evans wrote. “Steven said Teresa was crying and begging him not to kill her.”
Zellner Alleges Teresa Halbach May Have Been Killed by Ex-Boyfriend
In June, Zellner filed a 1,200-page notice for post conviction relief in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, in which she alleged that Teresa Halbach’s ex-boyfriend may have killed her.
In the filing, Zellner notes that Halbach was in an abusive relationship with Ryan Hillegas prior to her murder and that jealousy could have been his motive for the murder when Halbach didn’t remain romantically interested in him.
Federal Appeals Court Upholds Ruling That Dassey’s Confession Was Coerced
In June of this year, a federal appeals court has upheld the ruling that Dassey’s conviction was coerced and he should be released from prison.
The majority of the three-judge panel agreed with Judge William Duffin’s August ruling that Dassey’s confession of the murder of Teresa Halbach was involuntary and that investigators violated Dassey’s rights.
State Requests Rehearing in Dassey’s Case
In July, the Wisconsin Department of Justice requested a rehearing by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit after the federal appeals court said his conviction was coerced.
Related stories from TheWrap: