It was August 12 of this year when now 26-year-old Brendan Dassey had his 2007 murder conviction overturned. Brendan Dassey’s murder conviction, for which he was sentenced to life, became international news when his story, and that of his 54-year-old uncle’s, Steven Avery, became the subject of the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer.
The focus of the documentary was that both Brendan Dassey, and his uncle Steven Avery were wrongfully convicted in the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in 2005, and that the police in Manitowoc County allegedly planted evidence that led to their convictions. A key focus of Brendan Dassey’s story was that his confession of the crime was coerced, and thus rendered unconstitutional.
On August 12 of this year, a federal judge ruled that his conviction should be overturned on that basis. This week, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel filed a notice to appeal Brendan Dassey’s overturned conviction with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reports BBC News.
On August 12, the federal judge ruled that the conviction should be overturned, and that Brendan Dassey should be freed from prison within 90 days unless the state wanted to retry the case. This week, the State did just that, announcing their intention to appeal the overturned conviction.
As a matter of law, Brendan Dassey will be required to stay in prison, pending the outcome of that appeal. Brendan Dassey has now spent almost 10 years in prison for a crime that he says, and that many believe, he did not commit.
When overturning the conviction of Brendan Dassey, federal Judge William Duffin ruled that the investigators in question on the case in 2006 “made false promises” to Dassey according to WKBW Buffalo. He also said that when that factor is considered with the mitigating factors of the age of Dassey at the time of the alleged confession, his intellectual impairments, and the “absence of a supportive adult,” it rendered his confession involuntary, and a violation of both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments according to his full ruling.
Brendan’s attorney or support adult were not present for the alleged confession, thus rendering it involuntary and unconstitutional. It’s the key piece of evidence against Dassey for this crime, and one of the only conclusive pieces of evidence they have against him. But, as it was rendered involuntary, it has been ruled to not be a conclusive piece of evidence in this case.
Attorney General for Wisconsin, Brad Schimel, does not agree with the federal judge’s decision that the confession should be ruled involuntary. In a press release issued by the Wisconsin DOJ Friday, he said the following.
“We believe the magistrate judge’s decision that Brendan Dassey’s confession was coerced by investigators, and that no reasonable court could have concluded otherwise, is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law. Two state courts carefully examined the evidence and properly concluded that Brendan Dassey’s confession to sexually assaulting and murdering Teresa Halbach with his uncle, Steven Avery, was voluntary, and the investigators did not use constitutionally impermissible tactics.”
Dassey’s lawyer Steve Drizin says he’s disappointed in the State’s decision to prolong Dassey’s release with this appeal according to the Chicago Tribune.
“We look forward to continuing to defend his rights in court. Like Brendan, we remain grateful to his many supporters for their continued loyalty and strength.”
Brendan Dassey was 16-years-old at the time of the alleged confession. He was 15 when the murder took place.
The murder of Teresa Halbach occurred in 2005. She was last seen on the property of Steven Avery, Dassey’s uncle. Brendan lived very close by.
That is almost all that the investigators know conclusively about this murder. The police claim that Steven Avery lured Teresa Halbach to his property that day, but they have no evidence of that claim. They also claim that Brendan Dassey helped Steven Avery either kill or dispose of her body, however, the only evidence they have for that are Brendan Dassey’s words, which appear confused, and have since been ruled involuntary by a federal judge.
Steven Avery is also serving a life sentence for this murder. As The Inquisitr previously reported, however, his lawyer is also working steadily to have Steven Avery’s conviction overturned as well. A motion was filed by Kathleen Zellner in Manitowoc County on August 26 of this year, seeking new evidence testing that she says will conclusively show that someone other than Steven Avery committed this murder.
Her motion points to two individuals, named Individual A and Individual B, and strongly hints that evidence pertaining to those individuals must be tested and examined further. In her August 26 motion, she claims they lied to the police during the investigation of the murder of Teresa Halbach. She also says they entered the property of the Avery residence “four times for unknown reasons” after it had been closed to the public, suggesting evidence was planted reported Newsweek.
She says that once certain pieces of evidence are obtained and retested with techniques that were not available in 2005, a new individual will come to light as a key suspect in this murder, Newsweek reports.
Forensic blood evidence is also central to this case. The Netflix documentary covered this extensively, suggesting that blood from a previous crime Steven Avery was accused of was used in the Halbach murder as planted evidence to frame him of the Halbach murder.
Zellner wants evidence such as a cheek swab and the key to Teresa Halbach’s car tested extensively with techniques that were not available for forensic use in 2005. She wants them examined by the expert that worked on the Oklahoma City bombing, the Unabomber case, and the Jon Benet Ramsey case. Her motion states,
“If any material is present on the swab, other than the DNA from Mr. Avery’s cheek, Mr. Avery can prove that the swab was used by police officers to deposit Mr. Avery’s DNA on the hood latch…..”
Steven Avery was exonerated of a sexual assault crime in 2003, after having spent 18 years in prison for that crime reports CBS 8. It is believed by many, and was heavily documented in the Making a Murderer series, that evidence obtained from Avery for investigation of that crime from the 1980’s, was used by Manitowoc investigators to wrongfully convict him, and Brendan Dassey, of the murder of Teresa Halbach.
Kathleen Zellner says that Steven Avery is prepared to go to any expense and length, at his own cost, to have this testing performed that she says, with confidence, will exonerate him of the murder of Teresa Halbach. She also says that no guilty person would submit to, agree to, and pay for, such extensive scientific testing reports Newsweek.
Kathleen Zellner is a star lawyer who has made a career of freeing the wrongly accused. She has had at least 17 clients freed from prison following overturned convictions The Inquisitr previously noted.
Her Twitter bio reads, “Unmaking Murderers: One false conviction at a time.” When news that the State had filed a notice to appeal Dassey’s overturned conviction came to light this Friday, she tweeted the following message.
“Wisconsin AG appealing Brendan’s decision. Just prolonging the injustice. Cannot wait for Wisc. AG to face the 7th Circuit trying to defend this confession. Not friendly to frivolous appeals. #MakingAMurderer.”
The alleged confession of Brendan Dassey is critical to securing another guilty verdict at a retrial as it is one of the only pieces of “evidence” the State has to connect him with this crime. He has already spent almost 10 years in prison for a crime that he says he did not commit.
Brendan Dassey does not have a formal special needs diagnosis that we know of, but he has known intellectual deficits that put his mental capacity years below his current age level. Watch Part One of his full confession here, and decide its legitimacy for yourself.
Variety reports that Making a Murderer Season 2 has been announced by Netflix, but a release date is yet to be determined, likely pending the outcome of all of these legal points for Brendan Dassey and Steven Avery.
If you were a jury on this case, would you consider this confession voluntary? Share your thoughts on the case in the comments below.
[Photo by Sue Pischke/AP Images]