Steven Avery Becomes The First Person In The United States Exonerated By DNA Evidence To Be Charged - And Now Convicted - Of Homicide

After deliberating for 4 days, a jury of six men and six women found Steven Avery guilty of the Halloween murder of free lance photographer Teresa Halbach. The jury soundly rejected the defense's claim that the police planted evidence (Avery's blood) to frame him for the crime. Avery has been in the spotlight since 2003, when he was released from prison based on DNA testing after serving 18 years for a 1985 sexual assault. Avery becomes the first person in the United States exonerated by DNA evidence to be subsequently charged - and now convicted - of murder. Avery will be sentenced later this week and is expected to face life in prison.

DNA Expert Sherry Culhane Testifies In Steven Avery Trial

Sherry Culhane, a forensic scientist in the DNA section of the Wisconsin State Crime Lab testified and defended her results that show Steven Avery as the origin of blood and DNA found in Teresa Halbach's sport utility  vehicle in 2005. Avery's attorneys argued that since Culhane's own DNA was found in a negative control sample (that is supposed to be devoid of any DNA), the tests should have been deemed inconclusive and new testing should have taken place. That can't be done, however, because the entire DNA sample was consumed during the initial testing.

Steven Avery Faces February 5,2007 Trial Date

Jury selection is expected to begin on February 5, 2007 in the criminal case being brought against Steven Avery. Avery is the first person in the U.S. to be charged with a homicide after being exonerated by DNA evidence for a previous crime. The Avery case has had a number of twists and turns. The key chronology is set forth below:

In 1985 Avery was convicted of raping a jogger. In 2003, Avery was released from prison after DNA testing of hairs found at the crime scene did not match Avery. In 2005,  Avery was charged with the rape and murder of Teresa Halbach near his family's salvage yard. Halbach had disappeared after going to the salvage yard to photograph a minivan the family had for sale. Eventually, Avery was charged with first degree intentional murder, mutilating a corpse, possessing a firearm by a felon, first degree sexual assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment. Later, Avery's 16-year old nephew, Brendan Dassey, confessed to investigators that he assisted his uncle in the Halloween crimes. Avery filed a $36 million dollar federal lawsuit against the Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, its former sheriff, Thomas Kocourek, and its former district attorney, Denis Vogel. After being charged with the crimes committed against Teresa Halbach, Avery agreed to settle his federal lawsuit for $400,00. The day after the settlement was announced, Halbach's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Avery. On January 29, 2007, a judge dismissed sexual assault and kidnapping charges against Avery because prosecutors could not say for sure whether Dassey would testify in support of those charges. Four charges remain against Avery, including first-degree intentional homicide and mutilating a corpse. As mentioned earlier, jury selection in that trial is expected to begin February 5, 2007.