Steven Avery case: What did the court documents say?

Published: Jan. 4, 2016 at 4:22 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

The 2005 Manitowoc County homicide of Teresa Halbach and 2007 conviction of Steven Avery are drawing worldwide attention following the Dec. 18 Netflix release of the documentary style series, “Making A Murderer.”

Steven Avery was released from prison in 2003 after serving 18 years for a rape conviction. Avery was freed with the help of a group of UW law students who found new evidence and used DNA testing. But just two years later Avery found himself back in custody for the disappearance and death of a 25-year-old woman. The series focuses heavily on telling the defenses' side of the case.

According to the original criminal complaint filed Nov. 15, 2005 in Manitowoc County investigators in Calument County received a call from Teresa's mother, Karen Halbach on Nov. 3 reporting Teressa had not been heard or seen from since Oct. 31.

According to court documents, based on statements from family, witnesses, and investigators Karen stated it would be unusual for Teresa to go that long and not have contact with family. Karen provided investigators with a vehicle description, plate information and VIN.

The criminal complaint states on Nov. 5 officers received information from volunteer searchers that the had located a vehicle matching the description at Avery Auto Salvage in the Town of Gibson, in Manitowoc County. Volunteers had received permission to search the lot by Earl Avery. According to court documents, investigators stated it appeared someone had been trying to hide the vehicle as it was covered by tree branches.

The same day a search warrant was obtained and executed for Avery Auto Salvage which included homes, outbuildings, vehicle and property. According to court documents, Halbach's vehicle was seized, and secured in an enclosed trailer and transported to the Wisconsin State Crime Lab. Officers also located a burn barrel near Steven Avery's property. In it, officers found burned clothing and a partially burned shovel, according to the criminal complaint.

Court documents show on Nov. 6 Steven Harrington of the State Crime Lab confirmed technicians had located the presumptive human blood in the rear cargo portion of the vehicle as well as the ignition area of the vehicle.

According to court documents, during a search of Steven Avery's home law enforcement identified a dried red substance which appeared to be blood on the bathroom floor in front of the washer and dryer and also located handcuffs and leg irons.

Court documents stated Deputy Kucharski found two firearms-- a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle and a .50 caliber black powder muzzleloader. Deputy Dan Kucharski noted there was masking tape on the muzzleloader with the name “Steve” written on it. According to court documents during the search of a detached garage 11 spent .22 caliber long rifle shell casing were found on the ground.

On Nov. 7, Deputy Kucharski continued the search of Avery's bedroom and located a Toyota ignition key. According to court documents, the key belong to Teresa Halbach's vehicle.

On Nov. 8, investigators found Halbach's licenses plates crumpled in a scrapped vehicle on the north end of the salvage yard. The same day, officers found bone fragment and teeth in a fire pit area south of Avery's detached garage. Officers believed tires were used as accelerants in the fire.

On Nov. 9, Steven Avery provided a statement to investigators saying Teresa Halbach was at his home on Oct. 31, 2005 between 2-3 p.m. According to court documents, Avery said he was not in Halbach's car and indicated that there was no way his blood could in her car. Avery told investigators he paid Teresa $40 and she gave him an Auto Trader magazine.

On Nov. 14, Leslie Eisenberg, a Forensic Anthropologist, described the bone fragments as the result of obvious mutilation of a corpse. According to court documents, Eisenberg stated that almost every bone in the body was present and had been recovered from the scene.

The same day the state crime lab determined blood found in Halbach's vehicle matched the DNA profile for Steven Avery. Sherry Culhane, a DNA Analyst reported blood found in the rear cargo area of the Toyota Rav 4 was Teresa Halbach's.

About 250 people attended Teresa Halbach funeral. It was held Nov. 19, 2005 in the small community of St. John.

From the beginning Steven Avery said he was set up because of the $36 million lawsuit against Manitowoc County for his wrongful conviction. Avery ended up settling for $400,000-- which he used to pay legal fees in the murder trial.

In March 2007, Steven Avery was found guilty of first degree intentional homicide and felon possessing a firearm. In June 2007 he was sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility of parole. He serving his sentence at the Waupun Correctional Facility.