Wisconsin DOJ Files Motion To Block Brendan Dassey Release

Bruce HalmoAP

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel on Monday filed a motion to keep Making a Murderer subject Brendan Dassey in prison while his office argues the case in front of the entire Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

The motion comes three days after Dassey’s lawyers filed a petition to release him while the state decides to charge him for the 2005 killing of Teresa Halbach.

Dassey’s motion for bail came after a three-judge panel within the Seventh Circuit last Thursday upheld a 2016 ruling that his confession in the Halbach killing was involuntary. His attorney, Laura Nirider claimed in the bail that Dassey, as a successful habeas petitioner, should be released pending a decision by the state, which has 90 days to bring new charges or agree to set him free.

That argument isn’t strong enough for Schimel. He says Dassey should stay where he is for now because the circumstances of his case have note changed; he is still a convicted murderer in the eyes of Wisconsin.

“Dassey’s interests do not warrant release, given that he has been adjudged guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by and this adjudication of guilt has been upheld by the appellate courts of the State,” Schimel’s motion says. “He should not be released from confinement unless he can ultimately prevail in federal court.”


Nirider and co-counsel Steve Drizin maintain that Dassey’s 2007 murder conviction is no longer in play because of the Eastern District of Wisconsin decision the federal appeals court upheld last week.

“In rejecting the State’s assertion that Brendan confessed voluntarily, the court acknowledged what many parents already recognize: Brendan’s youthfulness and intellectual disability make him particularly vulnerable in the interrogation room,” Dassey’s attorneys lawyers claim in their motion for bond. “False confessions (are not) beneficial to the prosecutor whose goal is to find, punish, and incapacitate the actual criminal, they are not beneficial to grieving relatives and friends who want to bring justice to the perpetrator of a crime, and, of course, they are of no benefit to a wrongfully accused defendant.”

Schimel is also arguing that releasing Dassey would create a safety concern.

“Dassey’s release pending full resolution of this appeal would harm the public interest, as he has been convicted of rape, murder, and mutilation of a corpse, thereby establishing his dangerousness to the public.”

The 90-day window to decide whether to retry the now 27-year-old is being called into question, too. Wisconsin was given the same window last year, but chose to challenge the ruling. Doing so, Schimel claims, does not eat into the 90-day allotment. According to his motion, the clock would not begin ticking until after an unsuccessful en banc review his office is expected to seek within the next two weeks.


If Schimel is unsuccessful in reversing the 2016 ruling, he would have the option to take the case to the United States Supreme Court.

Nirider and Drizin have not responded to Monday’s motion.

Dassey was only 16 when he confessed to taking part in the murder of Teresa Halach with his uncle Steven Avery. He was tried as an adult a year later and convicted of first-degree murder, mutilation of a corpse and sexual assault. Under terms of his life sentence, he would be eligible for parole in 2048. Avery was sent to prison for life without parole and is appealing his conviction.

[Featured Image by Bruce Halmo/AP Images]