Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Steven Avery

First NameSteven
Last NameAvery
Year of Conviction1986
Year of Exoneration2010
Testing inculpated culpritCold Hit
State of ConvictionWisconsin
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape
Death SentenceNo
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeWhite
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● 13 witnesses saw defendant pouring concrete at his father’s house at the time of the crime.

Did the defendant testify at trial?Yes
Quotes from Exoneree Testimony

● Defendant testified that he was at his father’s house at the time of the crime. ● When asked if he attacked the victim, he testified “No.”

Types of evidence at trial
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Hair
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Vague
  • Valid
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

The analyst testified, using unreliable and vague terminology that was accepted in the field, that the defendants’ and the questioned hairs were “consistent.”

Identity of eyewitness
  • Intraracial Identificaiton
  • Victim
Lineup Procedures
  • Composite drawing
  • Lineup
  • Photo array
Suggestive Procedures

Yes ● Repeated photo – he was the only person repeated in photo and line line-ups ● Suggestive line-up – defendant was the shortest in line-up ● Suggestive remarks – victim told she had identified the suspect and of his prior criminal record

Quotes from testimony #1

Sheriff testified before trial, “I believe she was informed that the person we had arrested would be in the lineup” but at trial stated victim may have been told that after making the identification Victim – “Q. When he showed you the photo lineup, you assumed he had a suspect in mind, isn’t that right? A. I believe so. Q. And you assumed that his picture was included with those photos, isn’t that correct? A. Yes, I assumed that, yes.

Unreliable Identification?

No ●Discrepancy – eye color

Quotes from testimony #2

“Q. Did your attacker have brown eyes? A. No, he had brown eyes – No, he had blue eyes. I originally said brown eyes to Judy Dvorak. When I picked ou the photo in my hospital robe as I handed it to the Sheriff, I commented, ‘He’s got blue eyes, I was mistaken.”

Highest level reachedState Post­ Conviction
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Brady
  • Fourth Amendment
  • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
  • Jackson Claim
  • Jury Instructions
  • State Court Newly Discovered Evidence Claim
  • Suggestive Eyewitness Identification
Harmless Error Rulings
  • G
  • HE
Citations to judicial opinions

State v. Avery, 414 N.W.2d 319 (Wis.App. 1987)
State v. Avery, 416 N.W.2d 297 (Wis. 1987)
Avery v. Wisconsin, 485 U.S. 937 (1988)
State v. Avery, 570 N.W.2d 573 (Wis. App. 1997)
State v. Avery, 576 N.W.2d 280 (Wis. 1997) (table)

Read more about this exoneration