Weighing in on the murder case that has captivated the nation since being featured on Netflix's "Making A Murderer," HLN host Nancy Grace tells Dr. Phil in a new interview that she is convinced Steven Avery killed Teresa Halbach.
Grace, whose HLN show featured an interview this week with Avery's ex-fiancée, says Halbach had told co-workers she was afraid of Avery.
“She had been out there on five or six different occasions, and he comes to the door in nothing but a towel, and she was afraid but she wanted to keep her job, so she went out there and to take the picture,” says Grace, referring to when Halbach, then a 25-year-old photographer, went to Avery's family's salvage yard to photograph a car he was selling.
In 1985, Avery was a 23-year-old married father of five living in a small Wisconsin town when he was convicted of the rape of Penny Beernsten and sentenced to 32 years in prison. Avery steadfastly professed his innocence, and was exonerated because of DNA evidence in 2003. One year later, Avery filed a $36 million lawsuit against Manitowoc County for wrongful imprisonment.
But before his lawsuit was settled and after various law enforcement officials had been deposed about his wrongful conviction, Avery was arrested again in 2005, this time for the death of Halbach. In 2007, he was convicted of killing her and remains in jail without the possibility of parole. He still maintains his innocence.
Since the release of the “Making A Murderer” in December 2015, which some consider one-sided in favor of Avery’s innocence, hundreds of thousands of viewers have signed online petitions to free Avery, saying it's possible the police department sought retribution because of the lawsuit and planted evidence to frame Avery for the murder.
But in her interview with Dr. Phil, Grace points out specific pieces of evidence she believes prove that Avery killed Halbach, including drops of blood found in Halbach’s car, a deep cut on Avery’s finger and a bullet in Avery’s garage that was fired from his gun and contained Halbach’s DNA.
She adds that there's one key piece of evidence that could not have been planted: “His sweat found up under her hood. Now, I can get a warrant for your blood, for your hair, for your saliva out of your mouth, for your fingerprint,” she says. “So far, we don’t have a way of extracting your sweat, so how did police plant his sweat under her car hood?”
Dr. Phil tells Grace that he examined the trial record, and shares the top things he believes were left out of the documentary, including allegations that Avery talked about a torture chamber when he was in jail for the 1985 rape.
Dr. Phil says that he believes this evidence should have been in the documentary. “Look, here’s my problem with the whole thing,” he says. “I believe that when you are talking about depriving someone of their liberty in America, that is an extremely high standard and it should be an extremely high standard.”
This two-part episode of Dr. Phil airs Friday and Monday. On Monday, former Sheriff Kenneth Petersen, who was Avery’s arresting officer in 1985 and the sheriff at the time of his arrest for murder in 2005, admits something he’s never said before, and offers some words of advice for Avery’s new lawyer. Plus, Avery’s ex-fiancée discusses her most recent visit with Avery in jail and whether she still believes he is innocent. Check here to see where you can watch.
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