Steven Avery Case Timeline: Update
Then there was a murder and human remains found on the Avery property. Avery and his nephew were convicted of her murder. If you're watching the new Netflix documentary, "Making a Murderer" here's your guide to key events that shaped the fate of Steven Avery.
Aug. 2, 1983: Gregory A. Allen suddenly comes up over the sand dunes along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Two Rivers and starts stalking a woman walking in front of him. He pulls his shorts down. begins masturbating and then lunges at the woman, who gets away. Allen later calls the woman twice at her home and asks her to drop the charges against him. The prosecutor against Allen is Denis Vogel. The charges were reduced from indecent exposure to disorderly conduct.
July 17, 1985: The City of Manitowoc Police Department assigns officers to conduct daily surveillance on Gregory A. Allen. Allen was identified as a suspect in several complaints of prowling, window peeping, indecent exposure and sexual assault dating back to January of 1985 through July 14. "He is a dangerous individual with a potential for violence," the report stated.
July 29, 1985: On a hot summer day with temperatures in the mid 80s, Penny Ann Beernsten is attacked around 3:50 p.m.while jogging alone along the Lake Michigan shoreline north of Two Rivers by a scraggly haired man in a leather jacket. The man pulled out a knife and forced her into a wooded area. He sexually assaults her, beats her and leaves her bloodied. At the hospital, Beernsten describes her rapist. Deputy sheriff Judy Dvorak makes a comment that the attacker sounded like Avery. Because of this statement, Manitowoc County Sheriff Tom Kocourek asks for Avery's photo to be included in a photo line up.
From her hospital bed, the victim reviews nine photos. Avery's photo was in the middle. After she identifies Avery, the sheriff tells her he was going to arrest him. (The photo line up did not include her attacker Gregory Allen.)
Aug. 1, 1985: Beernsten identifies Avery a second time after watching a live line-up of suspects assembled by the sheriff's office. (Allen, the real rapist, is not included in this line up.)
Dec. 14, 1985: Avery maintains his innocent. At trial, he produces 16 alibi witnesses. Receipts and employees at the ShopKo store in Green Bay confirmed Avery was inside the store at 5:13 p.m., - 75 minutes after the vicious rape occurred north of Two Rivers. Still, District Attorney Denis Vogel and Sheriff Tom Kocourek told sheriff's investigators they were convinced Avery raped Beernsten. The jury finds Avery guilty of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree sexual assault and false imprisonment.
March 10, 1986: Manitowoc County Circuit Judge Fred Hazlewood sentences Avery to 32 years in prison.
Aug. 5, 1987: A Wisconsin appeals court rejects Avery's bid to overturn his convictions.
Sept. 23, 1996: Judge Hazlewood denies Avery's bid for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence that show scrapings taken from under the rape victim's fingernails did not contain Avery's DNA.
Aug. 5, 1997: An appeals court upholds Hazlewood's 1996 decision.
April 3, 2002: Hazlewood grants the Wisconsin Innocence Project permission to conduct new DNA testing, citing scientific advances made in DNA testing.
Sept. 10, 2003: The Wisconsin crime lab tests 13 hairs recovered from the victim back in 1985. None match Avery. One matches Allen, who is now serving a 60-year prison sentence in Green Bay for a rape that occurred in Brown County. Incidentally, a copy of the criminal complaint against Allen for the Aug. 2, 1983 beach incident was contained in Vogel's file for the 1985 case against Avery.
Sept. 11, 2003: Avery is freed from prison after spending 18 years locked away for a rape he did not commit. Back in society, Avery moves into a trailer near Two Rivers with a new girlfriend. He also works at his family's local salvage yard.
Sept. 19, 2003: Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager assigns the Wisconsin Department of Justice to investigate the Avery case.
Dec. 19, 2003: A DOJ report finds no basic for bringing criminal charges or ethics violations against those Manitowoc County Sheriff's officials and prosecutors involved in securing Avery's wrongful conviction.
Oct. 12, 2004: Attorney Walt Kelley of Milwaukee files a federal lawsuit in Milwaukee on behalf of Avery. The suit seeks $36 million from Manitowoc County, former sheriff Tom Kocourek of Two Rivers and former district attorney Denis Vogel of Madison. The lawsuit states that both men ignored Allen, who should have been their obvious prime suspect in the 1985 rape along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Oct. 31, 2005: Free-lance photographer Teresa Halbach of St. John in Calumet County, vanishes. That day, she had three appointments to photograph vehicles for sale for Auto Trader magazine. The Avery Auto Salvage was slated to be her last stop of the day.
Nov. 3, 2005: Tom and Karen Halbach report their 25-year-old daughter missing.
Nov. 5, 2005: Volunteer searchers discover Halbach's SUV inside the Avery Auto Salvage yard west of Mishicot, which was operated by Avery's brothers, Earl and Charles. Police impound Halbach's vehicle and take it to the State Crime Lab in Madison.
Nov. 6, 2005: As many as 200 police officers are combing the Avery salvage yard.
Nov. 9, 2005: Authorities arrest Steven Avery for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Nov. 10, 2005: Calumet County Sheriff Jerry Pagel announces that Halbach was murdered at the salvage yard. Bone fragments, teeth and camera and cell phone pieces are found in a burn pit near Avery's trailer.
Nov. 15, 2005: Calumet County special prosecutor Ken Kratz charges Steven Avery with first-degree intentional homicide, mutilation of a corpse and possession of firearms by a felon. Kratz announces that Avery's blood was found inside of Halbach's vehicle and that Avery was the last person to see her alive.
Jan. 17, 2006: Avery pleads not guilty and insists he is innocent.
Jan. 19, 2006: An FBI laboratory determines that the remains found at the Avery salvage yard were Halbach.
March 3, 2006: Four months after Halbach vanished, authorities arrest Avery's 16-year-old nephew Brendan Dassey as a co-conspirator. Dassey, the son of Avery's sister, is charged with being party first-degree intentional homicide, sexual assault and mutilating a corpse. Dassey had lived on the Avery family property near Mishicot.
March 8, 2006: Special prosecutor Kratz also charges Avevy with kidnapping, false imprisonment and sexual assault with a dangerous weapon.
Dec. 20, 2006: Avery's defense attorneys Dean Strang of Madison and Jerome Buting of Brookfield find an 11-year-old vial of Steven Avery's blood inside an unsecured area of the Manitowoc County Clerk of Courts office. The downtown courthouse is next to the sheriff's Office. The vial was not sealed. It was inside an unsealed Styrofoam box, inside an unsealed cardboard box.
Jan. 29, 2007: As part a pretrial ruling, Manitowoc County Circuit Judge Patrick Willis dismisses two of the criminal charges against Avery, first-degree sexual assault and kidnapping.
Jan. 30, 2007: Willis rules that Avery's lawyers are free to tell the jury about the old vial of Avery's blood.
Feb. 2, 2007: Willis denies a request by Avery's lawyers to delay the trial to allow testing on the 1996 sample of Avery's blood to bolster the defense's theory that Avery is being framed by the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Office for Halbach's murder.
Feb. 9, 2007: A jury of Manitowoc County residents is seated to hear the Avery jury trial. The trial is held in Chilton at the Calumet County Courthouse. The trial included 19 days of testimony from 59 witnesses. Avery's lawyers contend that Manitowoc County sheriff's officers planted evidence against him in retaliation for a lawsuit Avery filed against the county seeking $36 million for the wrongful conviction. After being charged with murder, Avery settled the $36 million lawsuit for about $400,000. He needed the money to pay for private defense lawyers in Halbach's case.
March 18, 2007: The Manitowoc County jury of six men and six women deliberate for nearly 22 hours over three days. The jury finds Avery guilty of intentional homicide and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The jury acquitted Avery of mutilation of a corpse.
April 25, 2007: A Dane County jury found Dassey, then 17, guilty in the rape, murder and mutilation of Halbach
June 1, 2007: Avery, then 44, is sentenced at the Manitowoc County Courthouse to life imprisonment with no chance for parole in connection with Halbach's death.
Aug. 2, 2007: Manitowoc County Circuit Judge Jerome Fox sentenced Dassey to life in prison but made him eligible for parole in 2048 after serving 41 years.
Aug. 24, 2011: Avery's murder conviction is upheld by the 2nd District Court of Appeals.
Jan. 30 2013: A state Court of Appeals rejected a request from Dassey, Avery's nephew, to get a new trial.
Aug. 1, 2013: The Wisconsin Supreme Court denied Dassey's bid to review the case.
Dec. 18, 2015: Netflix releases a 10-episode documentary about Steven Avery called, "Making a Murderer."
Jan. 8, 2016: Kathleen Zellner, a prominent suburban Chicago attorney, announces that she and Tricia Bushnell, legal director of the Midwest Innocence Project, will be taking over Avery's appeals in the hopes of overturning his conviction. Zellner notes that she has won exonerations for at least 16 other people who were wrongfully convicted.
Jan. 11, 2016: From prison, Avery files a motion seeking his release. Avery wrote that the "true controversy was never tried" and wrote how the search of his property on Nov. 5, 2005 was warrantless because multiple properties were searched. Investigators therefore collected evidence illegally, Avery argued.
Jan. 19, 2016: Manitowoc County Sheriff's Lt. Andrew Colborn sends an email berating a USA TODAY NETWORK reporter's ongoing coverage of the Halbach murder case. In 2005, Colborn was a sergeant during the murder investigation of Avery. "I know the truth doesn’t sell newspapers as much as lies and controversy, but for once try thinking about the consequences of the slander and defamation that you are authoring and participating in. A word of caution, be careful what you wish for. If Steven Avery is ever freed, he may just become your neighbor, and he may want to bring his nephew with him," Colborn wrote.
Jan. 25, 2016: Kratz discloses he's in the process of writing a book because the voice of the murder victim, Teresa Halbach, has been forgotten. Kratz said he's grateful for the chance to tell the "whole story." Avery's new appeals lawyer Kathleen Zellner tweeted a letter Kratz sent to Avery last year stating, "the difference between you and famous convicted murderers from the past is they told their whole truthful story to someone who then wrote a book about what actually happened and people got to understand both sides. I was willing to help you do that ... if you change your mind and want to tell your honest story someday, please contact me."
Jan. 29, 2016: About 60 supporters of Avery and Dassey gathered outside the Manitowoc County Courthouse for a peaceful rally. The event lasted more than four hours despite temperatures in the teens. A few counter-protesters and several onlookers also showed up. The demonstrators chanted "Manitowoc County take a stand. Don't imprison an innocent man." Their signs included: "Poor people lose," "Let's get even, Steven," "Can't you see? Set Brendan Dassey free!"
Feb. 1, 2016: Earl Avery, Steven's younger brother, granted his first-ever media interview, with Access Hollywood's Stephanie Bauer after Friday's Dateline special. Earl contends his brother is innocent of Halbach's murder. "And (investigators) say they cleaned up in the garage," Earl Avery told Access Hollywood. "But there's dust and everything all over. How do you clean up and put the dust back?" Halbach was last seen alive on Oct. 31, 2005. During the interview, Earl Avery said he drove right past the spot on the Avery Salvage Yard where the RAV4 was found five days later. "It wasn't there on the 31st," he said.
Source: Gannett Wisconsin Media archives, Associated Press, public records