While Steven Avery was the main subject of Netfix’s smash-hit documentary Making a Murderer, the plight of Brendan Dassey was one of the show’s most affecting storylines. Just 17 when he was convicted as an accomplice in the murder of Teresa Halbach, some felt that his confession — the main piece of evidence against him — had been coerced.
Last summer, a U.S. District Court agreed and overturned said conviction, but the state of Wisconsin promptly appealed, leaving the case to be retried once again. According to USA Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit has upheld the overturned conviction, creating the possibility that Dassey will go free after spending more than a decade in jail.
The 2-1 ruling was issued Thursday afternoon, and upheld an August 2016 decision by U.S. Magistrate William Duffin.
Duffin ruled that a combination of “repeated false promises” made by interrogators and “… Dassey’s age, intellectual deficits, and the absence of a supportive adult …” rendered the young man’s confession involuntary, and therefore, invalid.
Attorney Laura Nirider, who represented Dassey in this latest proceeding, had this to say: “As of today, Brendan has been locked up for 4,132 days. For the first time, this decision brings the end of that road in sight. We’re not there yet.” She added that “this is a confession that nobody can have any faith in.”
This does not mean that Dassey will be immediately released, as the state can still retry the case or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Johnny Koremenos, director of communications and public affairs for the Wisconsin Department of Justice. said the state was “evaluating” the decision. He added that “we anticipate seeking review by the entire 7th Circuit or the United States Supreme Court and hope that today’s erroneous decision will be reversed.”
That certainly makes it sound like this isn’t over just yet. As was the case with the last trial, the state has a 90-day window to file an appeal. If it chooses to drop the case before then, or if it lets those 90 days elapse without taking any action, then Dassey will be released. Be sure to stay tuned, and we’ll keep you updated as news breaks.