Prosecutors are seeking a new review after Brendan Dassey of Making a Murderer fame won an appeal court ruling. During the 2015 Netflix series, Brendan Dassey confessed that he had assisted Steven Avery, his uncle, in the killing and rape of Teresa Halbach in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. As a result, Avery was sentence to life in prison in 2007. A federal appeal, overseen by three judges, has this week ruled that Dassey should be released from prison.
In August of 2016, a federal magistrate judge ruled that the investigators had coerced young Dassey in 2007 into a confession and that his conviction should be overturned. Dassey was 16 years old at the time and suffering from cognitive problems.
On Thursday, Chicago’s 7th Circuit upheld the decision by the magistrate judge to overturn his original conviction. Wisconsin can appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court, seek a retrial within 90 days, or request a review by the entire 7th Circuit.
A spokesperson for the Wisconsin Attorney General, Johnny Koremenos, claimed that their office is planning to pursue a review by all judges in the 7th Circuit or by the Supreme Court. Koremenos also said that the decision to release Dassey was “erroneous” and that they expect it to be reversed. He reaffirmed the office’s condolences to Halbach’s family, who have been suffering because of the actions he believed Dassey is guilty of.
Lawyers representing Dassey, who work for the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth in Northwestern University, have said they are elated at the decision and plan to take steps to ensure he is released. Lawyer Laura Nirider said that their team aims to send Dassey back home to his mother as soon as they can. Nirider also said that their team believe he has been wrongfully imprisoned for 4,132 days as of the new ruling.
Steven Drizin, the director for the center, has said that the ruling offers a model for the more detailed analysis that courts need to take. He discussed his view that courts must properly assess whether confessions are voluntary or coerced, and he also highlighted how important it is for teenage suspects to have their parents or guardians in the interrogation room with them.
He explained that the tactics used during interrogation may not have been difficult or trying for a 30-year-old or a person with criminal history, but they did in fact overwhelm a 16-year-old- boy who was “intellectually limited” and “socially avoidant.”
Dassey’s case became a national story when Making a Murderer was released by Netflix in December 2015. The series provoked extensive debate about whether Dassey and his uncle’s conviction were a part of a scheme to convict two innocent men.
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