Exonerated inmate-turned-murderer gets life

/ Source: The Associated Press

A man convicted of murdering a photographer 3 1/2 years after his release from prison for a rape he did not commit was sentenced Friday to life in prison with no chance for parole.

Steven Avery, 44, was convicted in March of killing Teresa Halbach, 25, on Halloween 2005 near his family's rural auto salvage lot. She had gone there to take a picture of a vehicle for an auto-sales publication.

Avery also was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and sentenced to 10 additional years on that charge.

Manitowoc County Circuit Judge Patrick Willis reviewed Avery's previous offenses, including an incident in which he doused a cat with gasoline and tossed it in a bonfire.

"You are probably the most dangerous person ever to set foot in this courtroom," Willis said Friday. He decided against granting Avery parole on the murder count.

"He got what he deserved," said Halbach's brother, Mike. "He murdered my sister. There's no doubt about that. He should pay for it. I hope we never hear from Steven Avery again."

Avery previously spent 18 years in prison for rape. He was freed in 2003 after DNA samples proved another man committed that crime.

Avery spoke briefly Friday, saying he feels sorry for Halbach's family and their friends — as well as his family and himself.

"It's hurting everybody," he said.

Says he didn't commit this crime, either
He said he would eventually prove his innocence.

"Teresa Halbach, I didn't kill. I am innocent for all of this," he said. "I figured later on I will prove myself innocent."

The jury rejected claims by Avery's attorneys that he was set up by the sheriff's department that wrongly put him away in retaliation for a lawsuit he filed against it.

Four months after Avery was arrested, authorities charged his 17-year-old nephew, Brendan Dassey, after he said the pair raped and killed Halbach and then burned her body. He later recanted his statement but was convicted in April of first-degree intentional homicide, second-degree sexual assault and mutilation of a corpse. His sentencing is set for Aug. 2.

Halbach's family sobbed Friday as prosecutors played a video of her shot three years before she died. Halbach spoke into the camera, talking about how much she loved hugs, her family, God, making people laugh, compliments and her favorite music groups.

"I love knowing that I like who I am," she said. "I love taking pictures. I love holding a camera in my hand. I love kids. I love babies.

"I don't hate anyone. I love a lot of people. I feel loved."