There’s been an important new development in the case at the center of the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer. On Monday, Rolling Stone reported that Stephen Avery’s lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, filed a massive document with new claims of suppressed evidence that could not only prove the innocence of Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, but also point to another strong possible suspect.
According to Rolling Stone, Zellner submitted a 599-page filing that “asks that the Wisconsin Circuit Court in Manitowoc County allow her to supplement Avery’s current appeal with previously suppressed evidence,” namely a “CD-ROM containing 2,449 pages of data downloaded from the Dassey family’s laptop computer.”
Zellner claims in this filing that the CD-ROM is the key to exonerating both men. She also says it gives credible evidence to support the claim that Dassey’s older brother, Bobby Dassey, is a likely suspect and proves that his testimony can be proven false (Bobby is a key witness in this case). Additionally, the filing “includes 30 exhibits, including the CD itself, as well as printouts of some of its most disturbing content: images of violent pornography depicting women being tortured and violated that Zellner says were largely accessed at times when only [Bobby] was home.”
The judge reportedly has 60 days to hold any proceedings relevant to legitimizing this filing and moving forward with it in hand. Appellate attorney Erica Suter, who has followed this case, weighed in to Rolling Stone on the impact this new filing could have.
“If [the] court finds that the laptop CD was withheld by the prosecution and contains material evidence, Avery should get a new trial for sure. The impact of its omission is a potential tipping point for Avery’s case, as well as Brendan Dassey’s,” she explained, going on to underline the seriousness of Zellner’s actions, specifically in overturning the Brady violation — wherein Avery was denied due process by the prosecution — that is at the heart of this trial.
“Zellner is bootstrapping as much as she can onto the failure to turn over the CD. This is understandable because she’s arguing that it changes the context in which other Bobby Dassey-related evidence can be viewed. You’re normally arguing Brady in the context of the evidence the jury heard, but she also goes beyond the record to argue what could have been done differently had this info been known at the proper time. Some of her arguments and exhibits really go beyond what the court can consider, but she is painting a picture, or poisoning the well, as we sometimes say.”
This development comes on the heels of the recent denial of Dassey’s request for his case to be heard in the Supreme Court. It makes the possibility of Dassey (and Avery) being exonerated all the more intriguing to viewers who have believed neither man committed the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach.