MANITOWOC, WIS — On Monday, famous wrongful conviction lawyer Kathleen Zellner announced that someone has posted a $100,000 reward in the hope of leading to the arrest and conviction of Teresa Halbach’s real killer.
Zellner has consistently maintained that Manitowoc County native Steven Avery is not the killer of Teresa Halbach and neither is Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, who has learning disabilities. The news of the $100,000 reward became the buzz across social media and it remains a hot conversation topic.
On Tuesday, Zellner, who has nearly 723,000 Twitter followers, participated in an exclusive question and answer with the Joliet Patch Editor, who previously covered the Steven Avery case extensively as an investigative reporter with the USA TODAY NETWORK in Wisconsin.
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In November 2018, Ferak published his fifth true-crime book, with Denver-based WildBlue Press, Wrecking Crew: Demolishing The Case Against Steven Avery.
Question 1: “Tell me what you can about the mystery person who has put up $100,000 for the reward fund. Is this someone you have met or someone who has strong feelings about Steven Avery’s innocence?”
Zellner’s response: “Mystery person is someone I have met. The person is not personally involved in any aspect of the case but believes the investigation was botched and there was a pattern of prosecutorial misconduct. The primary goal of this person is to make sure justice prevails.”
Question 2: “Do you think $100,000 will move the envelope in this case? Why do you think $100,000 is the perfect amount for the reward?”
Zellner’s response: “There are a number of murder cases that have been solved because rewards were offered. A 100k is a serious and substantial offer. Anything less could be passed off as a publicity stunt. We have confirmed that the money is being held in a special account for distribution to a worthy recipient.”
Question 3: “Based on your knowledge of the case, do you envision someone close to Bobby Dassey or someone close to Scott Tadych desiring to contact your law firm with information about the case?”
Zellner’s response: “We have firsthand experience with reward money causing someone close to the killer to talk. It may be an ex-girlfriend, or a close relative or friend. Money is a powerful motivator. The tips are going to have to be credible and corroborated. Killers always talk to someone. We’re betting this kind of money will trump any loyalty to the killer or killers even the blood tie of a relative.
Question 4: “Can you think of a few specific instances of how the tipster’s information would be vital to help you and your law firm prove Steven Avery’s innocence?”
Zellner’s response: “We want very direct evidence such as an admission of guilt by the killer to the tipster. The tip needs to be credible and corroborated. We do not want a rehash of evidence or theories.”
Question 5: “Can you think of any misconceptions about the reward money that you would like to clear up?”
Zellner’s response: “The reward offer is not a Hail Mary pass. We had no idea that the donor was going to come forward. It is the icing on a cake but is not necessary to Steven Avery being freed.”
Question 6: “Can you bring readers up to speed on where you are at now in terms of Steven Avery’s appeal? Do you feel you have a strong chance at success now that you are back before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals?”
Zellner’s response: “Steven Avery’s appellate brief will be filed on October 7. The brief will describe numerous instances of prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective assistance of Avery’s trial counsel and our third party theory as to who had motive, opportunity and a direct link to the crime other than Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. Our brief is as strong as any we have ever presented across the United States. We remain very optimistic about the outcome.”