The jury in the Steven Avery murder case may have deliberated improperly or considered highly inflammatory evidence that wasn’t presented at trial, which could open the door for a new trial, a world exclusive In Touch investigation has uncovered.
In Touch spoke in person exclusively to 13 of the 16 jurors on the case (including alternates) and while some had little to say, four of them opened up and gave new details of what happened in the jury room for the case that spawned Netflix’s viral 10-part hit, Making a Murderer.
One juror, when asked why they voted guilty and what they thought happened to murder victim Teresa Halbach, said “Torture and rape. Then he shot her in the head. He cut her up and put her in a burn barrel.”
The juror’s comments are significant because no evidence of Teresa being raped and tortured was allowed in Avery’s trial. That information comes from a confession given by Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey and was part of a pre-trial press conference given by prosecutor Ken Kratz.
The juror’s explanation is a bombshell because it may now open the door for a new trial says a top attorney.
“If a jury made its decision on incomplete, improper or withheld evidence then there are absolute grounds for a new trial,” New York criminal defense attorney Bruce Baron explains. “The jurors now may well be brought before an appellate review and ordered to describe whether they discussed certain inadmissible details they should not have brought into their deliberations.”
Even current Manitowoc County prosecutor Michael Griesbach – who believes Avery is guilty – says the judge made it clear the jury was not to consider the rape and torture scenario that was part of a controversial confession by Avery’s nephew but not introduced at the trial.
“The judge warned the jury to only consider details that they heard in court. You know he was referring to Brendan’s confession which was never spoken about in open court.”
In Touch’s exclusive information comes after a several week investigation by the magazine on the ground in Wisconsin, where jurors – most of whom wanted to remain anonymous – revealed what happened in the deliberation room and why they voted guilty.
One of the prosecution’s key pieces of evidence against Steven was his DNA, found on the hood latch of Teresa’s car — even though no fingerprints were detected. Asked how that could be, unnamed Juror #2 acted out the motion of putting on gloves.
“Sweat,” the juror explained, wiping their face. “If you’re worked up, there are plenty of ways to get sweat on there.”
Steven’s lawyers, Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, built their case by attacking the police and claiming evidence was planted. Teresa’s car key was found — in plain sight in Steven’s bedroom on the fourth day of searching — by James Lenk, one of the cops named in Steven’s $36 million suit against the county for wrongfully convicting him in a 1985 rape case (Avery spent 18 years in prison before DNA evidence freed him).
“I don’t know what happened there,” unnamed juror No. 2 admitted about Lenk’s late discovery of the key.
In Touch discovered that one juror was in regular contact with the judge during the trial. This never-before-revealed detail comes from the juror, who said they are skeptical of Steven’s guilty verdict.
“I questioned things all the time,” reveals the juror, who was let go before deliberations began.
The juror, who’d planned to vote not guilty, claims, “I’d send notes to the judge and he’d call me in to talk about it. A lot of questions weren’t answered.”
One question that has perplexed viewers of the series is why the jury found Steven guilty of murder — but not guilty on the count of mutilating Teresa’s body.
“Why was that even a count? There was no proof. That’s why he was not guilty,” another juror said, adding, “There are a lot of things [about the case] that don’t make sense."
The rest of the jurors have no doubt they reached the right verdict, however.
“Everything pointed to [Steven]. I have a clear conscience,” says unnamed juror No. 2. “I don’t have trouble sleeping at night. Never did then, not till this day, even.”
For more on the story, pickup the latest issue of In Touch on newsstands now!