CHICAGO (Reuters) - A Wisconsin judge on Tuesday denied a bid for a new trial by Steven Avery, who is serving life sentence for a 2005 slaying featured in the popular Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer.”
Sheboygan County Judge Angela Sutkiewicz ruled Avery had not met the legal standard to receive a new trial, according to a copy of the decision posted online by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
“Given the totality of evidence submitted at trial and the ambiguous conclusions stated in the experts’ reports, it cannot be said that a reasonable probability exists that a different result would be reached at a new trial based on these reports,” Sutkiewicz wrote in the ruling.
Kathleen Zellner, Avery’s attorney, who argued his conviction was based on planted evidence and false testimony, said in a statement Tuesday she would seek to vacate the judge’s order to allow her to finish further scientific testing and witness affidavits.
Avery and fellow defendant Brendan Dassey were convicted in separate trials of killing freelance photographer Teresa Halbach at Avery’s home and scrap yard in 2005. Her charred remains were found in an incineration barrel and a burn pit on Avery’s property, about 80 miles (130 km) north of Milwaukee.
Both were sentenced to life in prison.
In August, a U.S. appeals court agreed to reconsider the decision of a federal judge who overturned Dassey’s conviction by ruling it was based on a coerced confession he gave as a 16-year-old with a learning disability.
The case was the subject of a 10-part documentary, “Making a Murderer,” which questioned the handling of the investigation and the motives of Manitowoc County law enforcement officials.
The documentary recounted how Avery was convicted of an earlier, unrelated rape and sent to prison in 1985, serving 18 years before DNA evidence exonerated him, and he was released.
He filed a $36 million federal lawsuit against the county, its former sheriff and district attorney in 2004. A year later, he and Dassey were accused of killing Halbach.
The Emmy-winning documentary suggested authorities planted evidence against both defendants, a claim rejected by the current sheriff.
Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by David Gregorio