Steven avery freed Sept 12 2003 pg2
Working outdoors From left, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College students Pat Va-nenkenvort, 20, Ben VanBoxel, 18, and Martin Harley, 23, chart angles Thursday on the front lawn of the college during their surveying and mapping course. Corey WilsonPress-Gazette Free'I lost my marriage, my kids and my family' - From B-1 Rivers. Numerous alibi witnesses testified during the weeklong trial that Avery was at his parents' home and with his wife and five children in Green Bay at the time of the crime. The same Manitowoc County judge who sentenced him to prison ruled Wednesday that the new DNA evidence proved Avery was innocent and linked the crime to another man serving a 60-year sentence for a different sexual assault and kidnapping. After his release, Avery got one of his first wishes as a free man: he savored a lunch of ribs with his family as they headed home to Two Rivers. "I feel terrific," Avery said, his blue eyes shining and a breeze blowing through his graying beard. "The wind, no bars, no fences. I figured this day would come sooner or later." But there was also bitterness for the years spent in custody "The system sucks. It needs to be fixed," Avery said. "I lost my marriage, my kids and my family." At the time of the attack, Avery was married with five children, including twin sons born six days before his arrest. He was divorced after going to prison. Avery left prison with his parents, sister and 19-year-old daughter Jennifer. "I am glad it's over, very glad," said his father, Allen Avery The elder Avery said he spent eight years listening to his wife, Dolores, cry at night over the ordeal, and he's still angry at authorities for blaming his son. Daughter Jennifer was just excited to see the dad she barely knows. Avery's sister, Barb Janda of Two Rivers, took two days off work to get reacquainted with her brother. "He should have been out years and years ago," she said. "I think we all need an apology, too, for even some of the words they said in the courtroom." Students in the Wisconsin In- nocence Project at the Universi ty of Wisconsin-Madison Law School worked on Avery's case for two years. The group obtained a court order to allow further testing of the genetic material DNA in a hair from the crime scene. The testing by the state crime lab matched the DNA to another man already in prison for an unrelated crime, said Innocence Project co-director Keith Find ley. Manitowoc County District Attorney Mark Rohrer said Thursday that the statute of limitations on sexual assault is six years, but no decision had been made about whether the other man would face prosecution. He would not elaborate. The other man was convicted in a 1995 Brown County case, he said. Avery's exoneration is the first under Wisconsin s DNA testing statute adopted in 2001, according to the state Attorney General s Office. The law requires the preservation of biological evidence as long as anyone remains in custody and pro vides a right to post-conviction DNA testing, Findley said. Avery could petition the state Claims Board for compensation, according to Mike Bower, ad ministrator of legal services for the state Justice Department. Under a state law that pro vides compensation for inno cent convicts, those wno sue cessfully petition the board are eligible for up to $5,000 per year they were imprisoned, not to ex ceed $25,000, he said. If the board decides the amount it's permitted to award under the law is not adequate, it can submit a report to the Leg islature with the amount the board believes is sufficient. Avery said it was too early to say whether he would file a civil lawsuit. "Maybe in a couple days I will think about it, he said. There probably isn't enough money in the world to make up for the loss of my kids, the divorce and my family," he said "It was tough. 25 watched contributed phone. far, Bellevue, and to sign while to could Authority's because Lake authority talks yield communities B-1 bers." communities Bellevue, the will from a new contract for from the financing projects buy Water DE PERE p.m., no damage a.m., p.m., De alarm test. Births BAYCARE Debbie daughter.