Lawyer Kathleen Zellner announced on July 26, 2017 that she is offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who can prove her client Steven Avery is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. To win the $10,000 an applicant must rely on credible evidence to answer 100 questions regarding Avery’s case.
Avery was convicted in March 2007 of first-degree intentional homicide and illegal possession of a firearm in the death of Theresa Halbach in 2005 in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. He was sentenced to life in prison. The case of Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey — who was also convicted of charges related to Halbach’s death — was the subject of the 10-part Netflix documentary Making A Murderer, that was first broadcast in December 2015.
After Making a Murderer was broadcast Zellner — who is the most successful private lawyer in American history at overturning the convictions of wrongly convicted persons — agreed to represent Avery pro bono.
On June 7, 2017 Zellner filed a 1,272 page post-conviction petition that included significant new forensic evidence supporting Avery’s actual innocence.
Zellner calls the 100 question contest that she announced on July 26, “The Steven Avery Proof of Guilt Challenge.”
There are skeptics of Avery’s innocence, and in announcing the contest Zellner told the Joliet Patch, “The Proof of Guilt Challenge is specifically designed to elicit from these commentators credible evidentiary support for their opinion that Mr. Avery is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Zellner said the contest is open to anyone, and if they can prove Avery’s guilt by relying on credible evidence they’ll make an easy $10,000.
“The Steven Avery Proof of Guilt Challenge” questionnaire states:
“We are so convinced that you will fail at answering the following 100 questions that we will offer an award of $10,000 to anyone who fully answers all 100 questions based upon credible evidence that establishes Mr. Avery’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Rules: Anyone (including journalists, legal commentators, students, or the public) is eligible. All 100 questions must be fully answered referencing transcripts, evidence, and experiments which establish Mr. Avery’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. All submissions must identify the participant’s name, address, and driver’s license number. No submissions containing ad hominem attacks, vulgar language, or conclusions with no supporting evidence will be considered. We reserve the right to make the final determinations as to whether anyone has successfully answered all 100 questions and is entitled to the $10,000 reward.
Answers should be submitted to the following email: email@example.com“
The first 4 questions of “The Steven Avery Proof of Guilt Challenge” are:
1. Explain why, if Mr. Avery was “actively bleeding” from his finger, as Mr. Kratz told the jury, there are only 6 spots of his blood in the RAV-4.
2. Explain why Mr. Avery’s blood is not on any of the objects in the car that he would have grasped with his hands which would have also resulted in him leaving his fingerprints.
3. Explain why Mr. Avery’s blood was not present on the following items:
a. The key to the RAV-4;
b. The driver’s door handle;
c. The rear passenger door handle;
d. The steering wheel;
e. The gear shift;
f. The hood prop;
g. The brake release; and
h. The driver’s seat release bar.
4. Explain why there are no fingerprints of Mr. Avery in or on the RAV-4 but, according to the prosecution, there is blood from his actively bleeding finger present in 6 spots, 5 of which are in the front of the vehicle and 1 on the rear passenger door jamb. *Note that Ms. Halbach’s fingerprints are on the driver’s door handle and 8 latent prints are identified on the vehicle, none of which matched Mr. Avery, thereby ruling out that the car was wiped clean of fingerprints.
Click here to read, print, or download the 16-page “The Steven Avery Proof of Guilt Challenge.”
Click her to go to the website of the Law Offices of Kathleen T. Zellner.
On June 22, 2017 a three-judge panel of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the overturning of Dassey’s convictions and the ordering of a new trial by U.S. Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin on August 12, 2016. Avery’s convictions were largely based on Dassey’s alleged confession that Judge Duffin ruled was inadmissible.