Doctors have diagnosed the subject of the Netflix docuseries Making A Murderer with COVID-19. Steven Avery, who's currently serving life in prison for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach in Wisconsin, was confirmed to have tested positive by appellate attorney Kathleen Zellner. As the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune noted, the attorney made the announcement Wednesday on Twitter.
"It is true that Steven Avery has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus — he will fully recover," Zellner tweeted. "The bigger threat to him is whether the [Court of Appeals] will cure the disease that caused him to be wrongfully convicted." The latter comment was a reference to Halbach's murder, which Avery is petitioning to have re-tried. The murder itself was the subject of 2015's Making A Murderer, which led to widespread discussions over Avery's guilt or innocence.
Department of Corrections' Communications Coordinator Anna Neal did not confirm Avery's diagnosis. The agency cited "privacy protections in place," adding they were "unable to share any protected health information related to individuals in our care." Similarly, the Wisconsin Department of Justice also declined to comment on Avery's alleged diagnosis.
As documented in Making A Murderer, Avery had previously been convicted for the 1985 sexual assault and attempted murder of Penny Beernsten. After serving 18 years in prison, he was found to have been wrongfully convicted and released in 2003. He was again arrested in 2005 for Halbach's murder, which he claims is another wrongful conviction.
The Wisconsin DOJ had previously responded to Avery's latest appeal last week, filing a 130-page document that called the arguments everything from "speculative" to "far-fetched." Zellner has until June 11 to file a response to the brief. Should that deadline pass, the three-member appeals court will be left to consider the merits of Avery's appeal.
In September of 2019, a "notable" serial killer had confessed to Halbach's murder. The killer wasn't identified at the time, though they were serving time for another crime when they approached Convicting A Murderer filmmaker Shawn Rech with the confession. Rech admitted to Newsweek they hadn't confirmed its legitimacy, "but seeing as it was given by a notable convicted murderer from Wisconsin, we feel responsible to deliver any and all possible evidence to law enforcement and legal teams." He added that during their 20-month production, they had "uncovered an unfathomable amount of information and evidence that is leading us to the truth."