Steven Avery charged

Steven Avery, right, is escorted into a Manitowoc County Courtroom for his preliminary hearing Dec. 6, 2005, in Manitowoc. Avery is charged with killing Teresa Halbach. 

Associated Press archives

MANITOWOC -- A man who served 18 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit was ordered Tuesday to stand trial on charges that he killed a photographer at his family's auto salvage yard and disposed of her body by burning it.

Six witnesses testified at the preliminary hearing for Steven Avery in Manitowoc County Circuit Court. Avery, 43, was freed from prison two years ago when DNA testing implicated another man in the rape.

He is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, carrying a life prison term, mutilation of a corpse and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Prosecutors said he killed Teresa Halbach, 25, from Hilbert in Calumet County, when she went to the salvage yard near Mishicot on Halloween afternoon to take pictures for Auto Trader magazine of a minivan for sale.

In Tuesday's four-hour hearing, Judge Patrick Willis heard from prosecution witnesses who detailed each step of the investigation into Halbach's murder. For each witness, Avery's lawyers questioned the timing of what happened and who was involved.

Avery denies any involvement and has said he thinks he is being set up so Manitowoc County doesn't have to pay for the $36 million civil lawsuit he filed against it for wrongful conviction in the rape case.

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