Kathleen Zellner is an American attorney who has worked with clients like Steven Avery and the serial killer Larry Eyler. Kathleen Zellner net worth is estimated to be around $5 million.
Kathleen was born on 7 May 1957, in Texas, United States.She went to Marquette University before transferring to Concordia University in Canada. Zellner then studied law at Northern Illinois University where she graduated in 1983.
Kathleen Zellner Cases
She began working with her law firm in January 1991. She has obtained the exoneration of 19 wrongfully convicted men, handling many of these cases as a voluntarily and without payment. Her law firm has obtained more than $100m in verdicts which has supported the growth of Kathleen Zellner net worth.
In 1990, she was appointed to defend serial killer Larry Eyler. Eyler was a house painter and was known for his hot temper. He was facing a death penalty for the 1984 murder of a 15 year old boy. Zellner convinced Eyler to admit to her all of his killings, including 21 unsolved murders, and allowed her to release the names before his death. However, he died on a death row in 1994 and she gave the information to the authorities after Eyler died.
In 1994, Zellner successfully had a wrongfully convicted Joseph Burrows released from death row. Gayle Potter claimed that Burrows had killed a 88-year-old farmer where Potter had admitted to forging a check from the murdered. Although numerous witnesses swore they saw Burrows miles away from the murder scene, Burrows was convicted. Zellner pursued the case and won a new hearing where Potter confessed for the false claim. Burrows was released in 1994 and filed for a civil suit against the police where he won $100,000 (a small amount compared to what comparable cases had been awarded).
Ryan W. Ferguson
She has also represented Ryan Ferguson. A personal trainer, Ferguson was arrested in 2004 for the 2001 murder of Columbia Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt and nearly spent 10 years in jail. On the night of the murder, Charles Erickson had spent partying with Ferguson and could not recall the evening. Under police interrogation, Erickson implicated Ferguson in the murder upon which Ferguson was convicted with other supporting testimonies. The confession was later withdrawn under claims of police coercion. Zellner took on the case of Ferguson pro bono. Zellner went on to investigate the original court filings and identified numerous inconsistencies. There was evidence being withheld in the original trial, the key witnesses had lied during testimonies from pressure from prosecutors, and the story from a co-worker of the murdered had material inconsistencies. During a new hearing, Zellner questioned the co-worker to the point where the co-worker confessed to being with the murder victim at the time of the crime. Eventually Ferguson was released in November 2013 after Zellner convinced the only two witnesses against Ferguson to admit that they had lied at trial. Ferguson was awarded $11m in a civil suit that was brought against the district court.
Zellner was also part of the team that managed to free wrongfully convicted Kevin Fox who was accused of sexually assaulting and drowning his 3 year old daughter. in 2004, Fox had been looking after his kids, and found that his daughter was missing in the middle of the night. After calling the police, she was discovered drowned in a creek nearby. At the crime scene, a pair of shoes were discovered by police but was not investigate. It was these shoes that Zellner had tested that contained DNA evidence which freed Fox and identified the real killer who had caused robbery in a neighbouring house. The real killer, who also was in prison at the time of the new investigation, gave a full confession. The Fox family was awarded a settlement of $8.5m.
What’s been surprising is that over the years Kathleen Zellner net worth has grown in the millions from helping those that have been wrongfully convicted. Sometimes these cases were taken on as pro bono. The settlements afterwards has been where Zellner has been rewarded.
One such example is that of Alprentiss Nash. Nash was convicted of murdering a known cocaine dealer in his home in 1995. Nash was sentenced to 80 years in prison, but made good use of his time. During his imprisonment, Nash earned his high school education diploma and then subsequently submitted a legal brief that started his journey to freedom. During this time, a law was passed which enabled those convicted to take DNA tests where the outcome of the DNA result could be instrumental in claiming innocence. The DNA testing helped to clear Nash’s presence at the crime. After this Zellner joined the case and fought for Nash’s release. Nash was released in 2012, and was awarded $200,000 by the state. While Nash was seeking for additional multi-million dollar settlement with the help from Zellner against the city of Chicago, Nash was killed in an armed robbery.
Steven Avery 2018
More recently Kathleen Zellner has been trying to free Steven Avery, a once wrongfully convicted murdered who has remarkably been once again convicted for an unrelated murder. A woman, who was attacked and sexually assaulted along Lake Michigan, picked Avery from a line-up although Avery had 16 eyewitnesses (and a timestamped receipt) identifying him 40km away near the time of the event. Avery wrongfully served 18 years before being exonerated after DNA testing. Avery filed for a $36m lawsuit in 2003 against the police, but was arrested for the murder of another woman who was killed in 2005. Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey confessed to helping Avery kill the victim under interrogation by police. Although Dassey tried to recall his statement, it was not accepted. Zellner picked up the case in 2016 and is fighting for Avery’s release which is being captured in the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer.
Kathleen Zellner Net Worth
Kathleen Zellner net worth, or Kathleen Zellner earnings can’t just be described in financial terms. Zellner has also been rewarded in many other ways. The Sister Mary Byles Peace and Justice Price and Lecture is awarded to those that devote their lives to peace and justice. Zellner was honoured with this award in September 2018.