Man Cleared in Rape Case Fights Accusation

The Associated Press
Sunday, November 13, 2005; 3:40 PM

WHITELAW, Wis. -- The Avery family and the police don't mix. Never have.

The family is so wary of authorities that Chuck Avery opened the trunks of his family's cars _ just hours after prosecutors announced Friday that younger brother Steven Avery would face a murder charge.

Chuck Avery said he wanted to make sure that Manitowoc County sheriff's deputies hadn't planted something in the vehicles to make more trouble for them.

"We're really on edge," he said.

Steven Avery spent 18 years in prison for rape until DNA evidence proved another man committed the crime. He filed a $36 million wrongful conviction lawsuit against the county that is still pending.

But now, a sport utility vehicle belonging to a missing woman has been found in the family's junkyard, and prosecutors say DNA tests prove Steven Avery's blood is in the vehicle. He could face a charge of first-degree intentional homicide, possibly on Monday.

The family says he's being framed to stop his lawsuit, and they fear deputies could come after them next.

"The only thing I can think, they are trying to railroad me again and see if they can get away with it this time," Steven Avery, 43, said before he was arrested.

That's absurd, says Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz, who was appointed to the case. Planting DNA evidence would mean someone is running around with vials of Avery's blood, Kratz said.

"It is not possible the evidence ... is tainted evidence or was in any way planted by a Manitowoc County law enforcement agency, or any law enforcement agency for that matter," Kratz said.

The family has run Avery's Auto Salvage outside Mishicot, a town of 1,400 people 25 miles southeast of Green Bay, since the 1950s.

Some neighbors speak well of the family. "If you asked for a favor, you would get it from all of them," said Jim Geux, 49, who lived on a farm near the Averys until 2002.

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