Steven Avery served 18 years in prison on a sexual assault conviction before DNA evidence proved his innocence. Released from prison in 2003, Avery filed a $36 million federal lawsuit against the Wisconsin County of Manitowoc, the sheriff’s department and the former District Attorney. Then two years after his release Avery was arrested again — this time for the murder of photographer Teresa Halbach. Avery was convicted of Halbach’s murder in 2007 and sentenced to life in prison without parole. With a new legal team led by Kathleen Zellner — and with the support of the Midwest Innocence Project — Avery is appealing again.
Kathleen Zellner is a Chicago lawyer known for “gaining the exoneration and release of 17 men in wrongful conviction cases.” Her most recent high-profile case involved Mario Casciaro, a young man who served four years for the “intimidation murder” of a teenager who worked at the Casciaro’s grocery store. Before opening her own law firm in 1991 (the firm claims to have obtained nearly $90 million in verdicts and settlements), the Texas native attended the University of Missouri and studied at McGill College of Law in Canada and at Northern Illinois University College of Law. In 2014, Zellner was named “Person of the Year” by Chicago Lawyer magazine. Dateline NBC will feature a special on the Steven Avery case on January 29 at 10pm.