Defensing Steven Avery
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Proving Steve Averys Innocence
On the afternoon of 29th July 1985, Penny Beernsten, while on a run, was abducted by a strange man who took her to a wooded area near Lake Michigan and assaulted her sexually. After giving a physical description of her attacker to the police, Beernsten identified Steve Avery as her attacker after the police displayed a line-up of nine men matching the description. After a 5-month trial, Avery was sentenced to a 32-year sentence following a four-hour deliberation by the jury. Even without sufficient evidence to convict him, Avery was still sent to jail, based on evidence provided by the forensic examiner, who failed to provide qualifying information on a hair sample collected as evidence. After serving a sentence of 18 years, Avery was proved innocent once a DNA test proved that the hair evidence collected from the victim belonged to Gregory Allen, who was already serving a 60-year sentence for a sexual assault crime. After being wrongly imprisoned for 2 decades, Avery was finally released from prison after his innocence was proved with the aid of DNA technology though he was arrested and convicted for murder 3 years after his release.
The limited technological advancement in 1985 was a hindering factor in the serving of justice in the Steve Avery rape case. A hair follicle found on the victim was solely used to convict Avery even though there was no evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to prove that Avery was the perpetrator. Without DNA technology to match the hair to Avery, the witness account given by Beernsten weighed the case towards Averys guilt and therefore, he was sent to jail. In 1995, DNA technology was first used to test the scrapings found under the victims nails and the results showed that the DNA belonged to a stranger. Despite the information being presented to the court, the judge refused to grant an appeal to Avery, citing that the evidence was not enough to exonerate him. Information later emerged that Gregory Allen had confessed to committing a sexual assault at the same time and place where Beernsten had been assaulted but the detectives ignored the information, raising more questions on the integrity of the justice system. Despite the fact that Avery had 16 people accounting for his presence elsewhere at the time of the murder, the alibi witnesses were still not enough to prove his innocence.
Avery was later released from jail after a proper DNA test was conducted on the hair follicles and matched to Gregory Allen who was already serving a 60-year jail for a sexual assault offense he had committed earlier. Beernsten had identified Avery as her attacker possibly because there was a striking resemblance between him and Allen. After a request by the Manitowoc District Attorneys office to review the case, Avery was finally set free on September 11th, 2013. After two decades of wrongful imprisonment, Avery sued the judge, prosecutor and arresting officers for the unfair handling of his case, which led to a loss of two decades of his life in prison. However, he was later arrested in 2005 for the murder of Teresa Halbach, where the evidence presented against him in court proved that he murdered the woman.
Contrary to his proved innocence, Steve Avery a man of an IQ of 70 had a criminal record where he had been imprisoned for burglary and animal cruelty. Avery had been an offender before being sent to prison and even after his release, he committed a cruel murder, proving that either he had a killer instinct or his experience in prison transformed him to a murderer. His case inspired the making of a documentary series Making a Murderer in 2015, challenging the viability of the reform system of prisons. Avery may have entered prison as an innocent man but from his actions, after he was released, his behavior took a downhill slide as he graduated to a murderer.
Despite his innocence of the rape case of Penny Beernsten, Avery had had a criminal past even after his release, he committed murder, a more serious crime. However, evidence proves that the case was mishandled and if his innocence had been proved, he may never have graduated to a murderer. In the end, questions arise from the case including the viability of the prison statement and the integrity of the justice system to conduct a fair trial, issues that require deep analysis.
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