No new evidence related to the 2007 homicide conviction of Steven Avery has been brought forward for review, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said Monday.
Thousands have called on Gov. Scott Walker and President Barack Obama to pardon Avery following the release of a popular 10-part Netflix documentary recounting Avery's wrongful conviction of a 1985 sexual assault, his release from prison 18 years later, and raised questions about the subsequent convictions of Avery and his nephew for killing 25-year-old Teresa Halbach.
Walker, who does not issue pardons, tweeted Monday that documentary viewers "should read unanimous Court of Appeals opinion b4 jumping to conclusions." Law enforcement officials who were involved in the Halbach case have criticized the series, which is told from the perspective of Avery’s family and defense attorneys.
Schimel said Monday if evidence not heard by a jury that raises doubt about the convictions of Avery and nephew Brendan Dassey was brought to the DOJ, "we’d certainly take that seriously."
But so far, none has, he said.
"The jury heard the information that’s presented in this movie. They also heard much, much, much more information that wouldn’t fit in – that somehow didn’t make it into this 10-hour program," said Schimel. "(Avery and Dassey) both have been afforded appeals. With Mr. Avery’s case, his case was even looked at by the Wisconsin Innocence Project, which did great work to get him exonerated the first time around when he was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. They looked at it this time and they haven’t found, at this point, a case to pursue."
The documentary chronicles the investigation and trial in the murder of Halbach, whose charred remains and vehicle were found on Avery's property in November 2005. Dassey was also convicted of homicide, sexual assault and mutilation of a corpse in the case, which drew nationwide interest because Avery was previously exonerated with DNA evidence.
The film includes exclusive access to Avery's family and focuses on his defense attorneys' contention that the members of the Manitowoc Sheriff's Office ignored other possible suspects and planted evidence to ensure a conviction. At the time, Avery was suing Manitowoc County for $36 million for his wrongful conviction.
Those who dispute the framing defense, including former Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz, who prosecuted the case to avoid a possible conflict of interest, emphasize Avery's DNA was found in Halbach's vehicle, her DNA was found on a bullet that investigators matched to Avery's gun and that Avery had asked specifically for Halbach to be sent over to photograph a vehicle for Auto Trader Magazine.
Avery's appeals have been rejected all the way up to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Dassey, who did not testify against Avery, was convicted based on statements he made to police during hours of interrogation that he later recanted when he took the stand in his own trial. His case is being appealed in federal court.
Schimel said he hasn't seen the documentary and has "little interest" in watching it after reading an "objective review" from a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter who covered the trial.
"As a prosecutor, for all those years, the worst thing that I could imagine would be being responsible for putting a person in prison for a crime they didn’t commit. So that’s a priority for me," Schimel said. "However, Mr. Avery and Mr. Dassey both had trials."