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Steven Avery
Steve Avery
Steve Avery

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Task Force Hears Testimony from Steven Avery

December 22, 2003

By Kathryn Bracho

He was wrongly convicted of attempted murder and rape, and spent 18 years in prison. Steven Avery's wrongful conviction is something the Wisconsin criminal justice system does not want to see again.

State officials organized a task force. Monday they heard testimony from Avery.

Avery is a man of few words, and speaking in front of a group of men in suits at the state Capitol was tough for him to do, he said. But he said he wanted them to know that something is wrong with the system.

"I want to figure out what's perfect."

Steven Avery knows all too well the justice system is not perfect. "All the way through, kept my hopes up, but nothing ever came through."

The victim picked Avery out of a lineup. The man now linked to that crime by DNA testing, Gregory Allen, was not part of that lineup.

Keith Findley of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, which helped arrange that DNA testing to win Avery's freedom, pointed to a photo of the police lineup. "Steven Avery was the shortest, the fairest of the group."

It's just one of many things that went wrong is his case.. that this committee wants to fix.

"What can we learn from a case like this?" they want to know.

The committee will look at issues like DNA testing, eye-witness testimony, and whether public defenders have enough resources to properly defend their clients.

Steven Avery says he lost a lot during his time in prison. "My family stuck around for a while, but it was hard, so then I told the old lady to leave."

But now that he's free, he's glad to be made an example of. "It feels good they're realizing that the justice system is broke."

The committee will make its recommendations to the Legislature in about a year.

One issue the committee did not discuss is increasing the amount of compensation Avery could get from the state for the time of his wrongful imprisonment. Right now that amount is capped at $25,000.

Representative Mark Gundrum (R-New Berlin), who helped organize the task force, says this is an issue the committee is not equipped to handle.



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