The article, "'Making A Murderer': Steven Avery's Lawyer Claims Teresa Halbach Killed by Ex," by Joyce Chen originally appeared in Rolling Stone on June 7, 2017.
Teresa Halbach was laid to rest more than 10 years ago, but the circumstances surrounding the Wisconsin native's mysterious death continue to puzzle both investigators and the public. On Wednesday, Kathleen Zellner, attorney for Making a Murderer subject Steven Avery, added one more twist to an already confusing case by pointing to Halbach's ex-boyfriend, Ryan Hillegas, as the murderer.
In a 1,272-page motion filed to the state of Wisconsin, Zellner contends that her client deserves a new trial "in the interests of justice." Avery, who was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide in Halbach's 2005 death, is currently serving life in prison.
Zellner, who made 220 pages of the petition available on her website, argues, among other things, that Hillegas still had a romantic interest in Halbach even after they had broken up, and that jealousy motivated his actions. In her petition, Zellner details how Hillegas had pursued Halbach after she began a sexual relationship with her roommate, Scott Bloedorn – which is different than what Hillegas said while testifying in the original trial.
"Reportedly, Mr. Bloedorn was also Mr. Hillegas' best friend," the petition reads. "Mr. Hillegas committed perjury at trial when he described Ms. Halbach's relationship with Mr. Bloedorn as platonic and never romantic or sexual in nature."
In a transcript from the trial, Hillegas does indeed characterize Halbach's relationship with Bloedorn as "just roommates."
This detail becomes important, Zellner argues, because Hillegas should have been investigated more thoroughly as a suspect given that he did have a motive to commit the murder, and because he didn't have an alibi for where he was on October 31st, 2005, the day Halbach was killed.
Furthermore, Zellner points out, while Bloedorn initially refused to talk to a post-conviction investigator, his tone changed when the investigator told him Zellner planned to reveal an alternative suspect in the case.
"Mr. Bloedorn immediately blurted out, 'You mean Ryan Hillegas,'" Zellner's petition reads.
Zellner, who was hired as Avery's attorney in January 2016, has long asserted that Avery was wrongfully accused of Halbach's murder, a result of vindictive law enforcement officers looking for a reason to lock him up. In Wednesday's filing, also named Avery's trial lawyers, Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, as well as his post-conviction counsel, Suzanne Hagopian and Martha Asksins, as complicit in the wrongful conviction.
"[They] were ineffective in failing to hire the experts needed to establish that all of the evidence used by the state to convict Mr. Avery was planted or fabricated," the document reads.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice responded to the motion in a statement, maintaining that they believe Avery to be guilty. "We are confident that as with Mr. Avery's prior motions, this one also is without merit and will be rejected once it is considered by the court," they wrote, according to the local ABC affiliate, WBAY.
Illinois Fellow Kathleen T. Zellner is a partner at the Law Offices of Kathleen T. Zellner & Associates, in Chicago, and has devoted the last 25 years to obtaining the release of wrongfully convicted prisoners and bringing civil rights cases on their behalf. She has won numerous awards, including the 2011 Trial Excellence Award for her verdict of $15.5 million on behalf of Kevin Fox; National Law Journal selection as one of the Ten of America's Top Litigators for Successful Strategies; LawDragon's Top 500 attorneys in the United States - in all areas of law; National Law Journal selection as one of the Top 50 Women Litigators in the United States, and many others. Zellner has many legal successes in well-known cases, including the Fox civil rights suit; the Larry Eyler case, in which she obtained 21 confessions from Eyler that allowed law enforcement to close 21 murder cases in three states (a movie is being made by a major Hollywood producer on Zellner's work in this case); and the Joseph Burrows case, in which Burrows' release was obtained after six and a half years on death row and within months of his execution. She currently represents Steven Avery, the subject of the Netflix series, Making a Murderer. Zellner has given speeches to law schools, businesses, civil organizations, hospitals, high schools and writers' groups. She has been a presenter for the Illinois State Bar Association as well as the DuPage County Bar Association. She is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America.