Making a Murderer subject Brendan Dassey is looking forward to coming home for the first time in 11 years after the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2016 ruling that the confession he gave in the killing of Teresa Halbach was involuntary.
Dassey was visited by family members Friday at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin. Although a routine visit, it was a special one for the now 27-year-old. He got to celebrate Thursday's court victory with his mother, stepfather, and cousin in what he hopes is one of the last times they meet under guarded conditions. Until that day comes, Dassey remains thankful for the outpouring of public support during a decade-long fight for freedom.
"I just wanted to say thank you all again for the support, and hopefully I'll be home soon where I should be. Bring me home where I belong," Dassey said in a statement relayed to his family and posted on Facebook.
Dassey was days from being released last year in time for his first home-cooked Thanksgiving meal since 2005 when a state motion kept him in Portage while Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel appealed the overturned conviction. It was the closest he or uncle Steven Avery had come to seeing the outside.Avery had filed a number of unsuccessful pro-se motions in his case and was largely out of options when Kathleen Zellner signed on last January. Northwestern University law professors Steven Drizin and Laura Nirider have been Dassey's post-conviction counsel since 2007.
And while the legal argument is now focused on civil rights violations and not whether they killed Teresa Halbach, Brendan and Steven's innocence is transcending how naysayers view their cases and the one-sided documentary. Carla Chase, Chuck Avery's daughter and Steven's niece, runs the family's social media pages and continues to convey that message.
"The family is very ecstatic that the Seventh Circuit has finally realized the truth," Chase told the Inquistr. "All we can do is continue being patient and hope that both Brendan and Steven will be home very soon where they have belonged many years ago."
Chase said Brendan and Steven realize freedom will likely come with more opposition, partly because overturning a murder conviction is by design a tall order. And with the State of Wisconsin determined to keep Dassey in prison, more hurdles may be in store.Schimel's office announced Friday his plans to request an en banc hearing to challenge Thursday's decision. That means he'd argue the case in front of all 12 judges of the Seventh Circuit, not just the three-judge panel that voted 2-1 to uphold the writ of habeas corpus granted last August. If Schimel is unsuccessful there, he would have to bring the case to the Supreme Court. But that's not something Brendan's family is worried about. They just want him home, something that could happen as early as next week if the court grants a motion for bail his lawyers filed Friday.
"We are very thankful for what the lawyers have done and continue doing for both guys along with our family," Chase said. "We would also like to thank all of the supporters for standing by our side and taking this journey with us the last 18 months. We will always have an extended family."
Friday's visit also marked a renewed relationship for Dassey, one separated by regulations, distance, and the isolation of prison.
"Seen my cousin Brittany for the first time in 11 years," Dassey said.
Brittany was 12 when Brendan was sentenced and was unable to visit him.
Under terms of his 2007 sentence, Dassey was eligible for parole in 2048.
Aside from appealing the conviction, the state has the option of retrying him within 90 days without the involuntary confession.
[Featured Image by Jaslyn Gilbert/AP Images]