The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the lower court’s decision that the confession Brendan Dassey gave to police in 2005 in the murder of Teresa Halbach in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin was coerced.
The vote was 2-1, affirming the 2016 ruling by Federal Magistrate William Duffin that Dassey’s will was overborne and his rights were violated by investigators Mark Wiegert and Tom Fassbender.
“A few factors and passages from Dassey’s confession support the majority’s view that the confession was not voluntary,” part of the 128-page court ruling reads. “Dassey has successfully demonstrated that the state court decision resulted in a decision that was “contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.”
The court also ruled that no DNA or other physical evidence was presented linking Dassey to Halbach’s murder.
As in the August 2016 ruling, the State of Wisconsin must re-try Dassey without the 2006 confession within 90 days or release him.
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel responded in a statement, saying his office plans to challenge Thursday’s ruling.
“We anticipate seeking review by the entire 7th Circuit or the United States Supreme Court and hope today’s erroneous decision will be reversed,” a statement from Schimel’s office said.
— Journal Sentinel (@journalsentinel) June 22, 2017
Dassey was interrogated for more than three hours back in March 2006, after which he was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, sexual assault and mutilation of a corpse. The then 16-year-old did not have an attorney or his parents present during questioning. Barb Janda claims police would not allow her in the interrogation room while he son was being questioned. Investigators say Janda was made aware of her right to be present, but she refused.
Fassbender recently told Nancy Grace that Dassey voluntarily confessed and that nothing he or Wiegert told him during questioning constituted a coerced confession. Dassey’s attorney, Laura Nirider has maintained that the officers not only made false promises to Dassey, but planted facts about the state’s case in his mind and manipulated him into giving them specific incriminating answers.
— Making A Murderer (@MakingAMurderer) August 24, 2016
Fassbender claims Dassey voluntarily confessed and offered central facts of the killing, things the detective said only the perpetrator would know.
State of Wisconsin Deputy Solicitor General Luke Berg argued in front of the Seventh Circuit in February that Dassey was aware of the ramifications of Fassebender and Wiegert’s questioning, and that he continued to deny allegations that he was involved in Halbach’s murder.
The news comes two weeks after Steven Avery’s lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, filed a 1,200-page motion for a new trial. She claims new evidence shows the existence of a third-party suspect, planted evidence and prosecutorial misconduct.
Zellner alleged in the motion that Teresa Halach’s on-again-off-again ex-boyfriend Ryan Hilllegas is the killer.
[Featured Image by Dan Powers/AP Images]