Steven Avery's Bizarre Lawsuit Over Gas Is Just The Latest Chapter Of 'Making A Murderer'
After watching the Netflix documentary series Making A Murderer, nothing regarding the criminal justice system may still surprise you. Well, let's see. TMZ has unearthed some interesting details about Steven Avery's time post-second conviction. As mentioned in the documentary, he has been studying law from prison in hopes of freeing himself. Turns out, Avery has sued police twice, once over missing gas and damages to his car.
The police seized his 1993 Pontiac Grand Am during his trial for the death of 25-year-old Teresa Halbach, and Avery's lawsuit — according to court documents obtained by TMZ — claimed that they damaged it in the process, Avery, representing himself, said the alternator and battery had to be replaced, the transmission shifter was crooked, and "the gas tank was missing three-quarters of a tank of gas when it had been full before it was taken."
TMZ reported that Avery asked for $455 for the car damage and gas as well as an additional $250,000 in punitive damages. In the end, however, Avery lost his case. And in another lawsuit, he sued the police for a bookcase that was taken — the very same bookcase next to which cops found a smoking car key that connected him to Halbach's vehicle, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. Also, included in that lawsuit were four seized books, a cordless phone, and an AC power plug. It's unclear whether Avery lost the second lawsuit.
For now, Avery has exhausted his ability to appeal within the Wisconsin court system and no longer has the right to a free attorney provided by the state, hence his need to represent himself. As seen in the Netflix series, he tries to get a new trial and fails, a decision upheld by the state appeals court in 2011. That same year, the State Supreme Court also declined to rule directly on his case. He is currently serving life without parole at Waupun Correctional Institution in Wisconsin.
Avery was charged in 2005 for intentional homicide in the killing of photographer Halbach and was convicted for her death, along with his nephew Brendan Dassey. That was not his first time in prison, though. Prior to the murder case, he spent 18 years in prison after he was found guilty of sexual assault of another woman in 1985. DNA evidence, however, later proved he was wrongfully convicted.
His nephew, Dassey, has had more luck as of late getting his trial looked at. A suit filed by his lawyers is now being reviewed by a federal judge, who can order a new trial, release Dassey, or reject the suit. The judge is reviewing briefs, but there is no set timeline.
The Netflix series has garnered a lot of media attention to Avery and Dassey's cause. Petitions have been started asking for his release — notably one on Change.org directed at President Obama and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker asking them to pardon Avery and Dassey. As of Tuesday, 240,000 people have signed the petition.
Should Avery ever get another day in court, his practice on these two trials — while limited — could help him represent himself.