Steven Avery, subject of the popular Netflix show “Making a Murderer,” was denied a new trial by a Wisconsin judge last week. Avery maintains his innocence in the 2005 murder of 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach. Despite the finding of new evidence in his case, the judge ruled that there simply wasn’t enough new information to sway the result in Avery’s favor. That being said, the judge was unaware of some key developments in the case. As such, Avery’s attorney has said that they are not giving up.
In June, Avery’s lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, filed a motion seeking a new trial. The motion, which consisted of more than 1,000 pages, claims that his conviction was based on false testimony.
The six-page decision to deny the motion, made by Sheboygan County Judge Angela Sutkiewicz, held that the motion not meet the standard for a new trial. Sutkierwicz went on to explain that the new evidence was too ambiguous to make a difference.
But Zellner has vowed to keep fighting. “We are filing an amended petition because we have additional test results and witness affidavits. The scientific testing is not completed,” she said. “We remain optimistic that Mr. Avery’s conviction will be vacated.”
Motion for New Trial vs. Appeal
In order for a convicted defendant to be granted a new trial, he or she must show that there is a reasonable probability that new evidence is strong enough to change the outcome. A motion for a new trial and an appeal are two entirely different things. For a new trial to be granted, there must be new evidence or evidence of injustice, such as juror misconduct. The following circumstances may warrant the granting of a new trial:
- Jury misconduct
- Court errors
- Misconduct or prejudice on the part of the prosecution
- Discovery of new evidence
- Loss or destruction of trial record
- Ineffective counsel
If any of the above scenarios exist, a new trial may be granted. In Avery’s case, the motion was requested on the basis of new evidence, but the judge didn’t consider the evidence to be compelling enough to grant the motion. If the court does not agree to vacate the past ruling in Avery’s case, he will have to file an appeal, which may or may not be successful.
Where a new trial provides the opportunity to have your case heard again by a new jury, an appeal is an opportunity to have a higher court review your original case for certain mistakes. It is not a new trial, and you cannot present new evidence. A MA criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you feel that you have been wrongly convicted of a crime. Continue reading