Download video: Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey: Teresa Halbach murder trial videos (02 of 04)
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At age eighteen, Avery pled guilty to burglarizing a bar and was sentenced to ten months in prison. When he was twenty, Avery and another man pled guilty to animal cruelty after pouring gas and oil on Avery's cat and throwing it into a fire; Avery was sentenced to prison again for that crime. In 1985, Avery was charged with assaulting and flashing his cousin and possessing a firearm as a felon, and with the rape for which he was later exonerated. He served six years for assaulting his cousin and illegally possessing firearms, and twelve years for the rape he did not commit.
The Wisconsin Innocence Project took Avery's case and eventually he was exonerated of the rape charge. After his release from prison, Avery and his attorneys (Stephen Glynn and Walter Kelly) filed a $36 million federal lawsuit against Manitowoc County, its former sheriff, Thomas Kocourek, and its former district attorney, Denis Vogel. On October 31, 2005, the same day that Halbach went missing, state legislators passed the Avery Bill to prevent wrongful convictions. The bill has since been renamed out of respect for the Halbach family.
Sometime during the day on October 31, 2005, photographer Teresa Halbach was scheduled to meet with Steven Avery, one of the owners of Avery Auto Salvage, to photograph a maroon Plymouth Voyager minivan for Auto Trader Magazine. She had been there at least fifteen times before, taking pictures of other vehicles for the magazine. Halbach disappeared that day.
On November 11, 2005, Avery was charged with the murder of Halbach. Avery protested that authorities were attempting to frame him for Halbach's disappearance to make it harder for him to win his pending civil case regarding the false rape conviction. To avoid any appearance of conflict, Mark R. Rohrer, the Manitowoc County district attorney, requested that neighboring Calumet County authorities lead the investigation. Manitowoc County Circuit Court Judge Patrick Willis presided over the trial.
On March 18, 2007, Steven Avery was found guilty of murdering Halbach, not guilty of mutilating a corpse, and guilty of illegally possessing a firearm. On June 1, 2007, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder. He was also sentenced to 10 years in prison for felony possession of a firearm, which will run concurrent to the murder sentence. He is currently housed at Waupun Correctional Institution. In August 2011, a state appeals court denied Steven Avery's appeal to get a new trial on his conviction for the murder of Teresa Halbach.