If you've been at all plugged into social media over the past few weeks, you've probably heard about hit Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer, which analyzes the 2006 murder conviction of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, man Steven Avery. The documentary's premise, shot largely from the perspective of Avery's friends, family, and defense attorneys Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, is that he was wrongly convicted, with allegations of planted evidence. And now, all these years later, he's got a new person in his corner: Steven Avery has hired a new attorney, Kathleen Zellner, and she bills herself as an expert in handling wrongful convictions.
It probably shouldn't come as much surprise that Avery is getting his legal affairs in order, considering the torrent of attention and awareness Making a Murderer has brought to his case. While the original attorneys from his murder trial ― Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, who've become full-fledged internet celebrities since the documentary's release ― are very well-regarded, and likely forever linked to Avery's name, he's clearly decided to go a different direction for any future appeals or proceedings.
And indeed, according to a press release from her office, Zellner is taking over "full and complete representation of Steven Avery in all of his pending criminal matters." The release also mentions that she'll be assisted by Tricia Bushnell, who's currently legal director for the Midwest Innocence Project, and formerly worked for the Wisconsin Innocence Project.
According to her website, Zellner has a robust history as far as wrongful convictions are concerned ― since February 2014, she says she's successfully exonerated 16 men. And from the looks of things, she plans to mount an assertive, unapologetic defense of her latest client. In fact, even before there was any word of her involvement with the case, as The Oshkosh Northwestern detailed, Zellner proclaimed Avery's innocence on Twitter ― last week, on Jan. 2, she reportedly said "whoever deleted Teresa Halbach cellphone calls is either the murderer or part of [a] coverup. Either way the killer is free."
It'll be interesting to see whether Zellner is able to gain some ground that Strang and Buting weren't, and it'll surely help to have Bushnell on her side. Avery's been aided by the Innocence Project before, although not the Midwest chapter ― the Wisconsin Innocence Project helped exonerate him of his wrongful rape conviction in 2003, although they have not represented him since the subsequent murder charge and conviction.
Image: Making a Murderer/Netflix