Attorney Representing “Making A Murderer’s” Steve Avery Joins Centerton Man’s Defense Team

CENTERTON (KFSM) -- An Illinois attorney representing Steve Avery, whose case is the subject of Netflix's crime documentary series Making A Murderer, has been added to a Centerton man's defense team.

James Bates, 31, is facing charges of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in connection to the death of Victor Collins, 47, at his home on Nov. 22, 2015.

Attorney Kathleen Zellner filed notice Thursday of her intent to join Bates' defense team. Douglas Johnson, who is a partner at Zellner's law firm, also filed notice about joining the team. Rogers attorney Kimberly Weber also represents Bates and will still work on the case.

Court documents state police found Collins dead in Bates' hot tub and the medical examiner ruled his cause of death was strangulation and drowning. Bates is accused of trying to clean up the scene by spraying down the deck and hot tub.

Zellner has worked extensively in wrongful conviction advocacy. She is currently Steve Avery's attorney. Avery, who was convicted of murder in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, along with his nephew Brendan Dassey, has maintained his innocence. The Netflix documentary aims to bolster that claim by examining the investigation into Teresa Halbach's murder for which the two men were convicted in 2007.

Zellner also represented Ryan Ferguson and had his conviction overturned in 2013. Ferguson had been in a Missouri prison after he was convicted of murdering a newspaper sports editor. Zellner got the two witnesses in the case to admit that they had lied at trial.

A significant part of the case against Bates involves the water usage data from his water meter. Court documents state the data shows he used a large amount of water in the middle of the night. Detectives believe that was when Bates cleaned up the scene.

Right now, Bates is out on $350,000 bond. A trial date has not yet been set, but the next hearing in the case has been scheduled for March.