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Brendan Dassey’s conviction overturned in ‘Making a Murderer’ case

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Steven Avery Netflix
The documentary Making a Murderer sparked widespread debates and protests when viewers binge-watched the series on Netflix. And it seems all of the attention the series has generated has helped to get at least one of the two convictions overturned. Brendan Dassey — who, along with his uncle Steven Avery, was charged for the murder of Teresa Halbach — may be getting out of prison, Variety reports.

Dassey was charged with first-degree intentional homicide, second-degree sexual assault, and mutilation of a corpse based largely on testimony he himself had given. However, many who saw the documentary felt it was clear that Dassey’s confessions were coerced. Dassey, who was known to have a below-average IQ, was seen on camera in interrogation rooms being pressed into saying certain things, or led in specific directions. Viewers got so angry after watching, in fact, that they even drafted a petition to try and get both Dassey and Avery released on a pardon.

Steven Drizin, Dassey’s lawyer, told Variety that the documentary “raised serious concerns about how police offers interrogate suspects, particularly youthful suspects.” Dassey was just 16 years old at the time of the murder in 2005, and 17 when he went to prison. He was to be there for life, without eligibility for parole until 2048.

Avery, meanwhile, remains in prison. After being wrongfully convicted of sexual assault in the ’80s — a crime for which he spent 18 years in jail — he was released in 2003, only to find himself caught up with the law once again, and back behind bars, this time for murder. However, many believe there were unsavory things going on behind the scenes that may have wrongfully seen the blame pointed toward Avery.

He was in the midst of a civil suit against Matinowoc County, Wisconsin, for his wrongful conviction, through which he was seeking $36 million in damages. He eventually settled for $400,000 because he needed the funds to support his defense in the Halbach murder case — you can put two and two together to figure out where the controversy lies.

The documentary, which is admittedly one-sided, does present some pretty compelling evidence for the defense. Chicago lawyer Kathleen Zellner, who has overturned the wrongful convictions of 17 men to date, recently picked up Avery’s case, and is working on an appeal to get him released.

Netflix has already confirmed a second season for Making a Murderer, looking at the post-conviction process, and catching up with the defendants’ families. It looks like season 2 may also follow Dassey’s release, as well as the latest in efforts to have Avery released.

As it stands, assuming no disruptions, Dassey should be out before the end of this year. He will be 27.

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Christine Persaud
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