A three-judge federal appeals panel ruled Thursday that Wisconsin inmate Brendan Dassey’s murder confession was improperly obtained, and recommended that Dassey be re-tried or released from prison, the Associated Press reported.
BREAKING: Federal appeals panel upholds ruling that 'Making a Murderer' confession coerced.
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 22, 2017
Dassey is the nephew of Neflix’s “Making a Murderer” subject Steven Avery. In separate trials, the two were sentenced to life in prison for the 2005 rape and murder of photographer Teresa Halbach.
Dassey, who is already 10 years into his life sentence, was only 16 when investigators pressed him on details regarding Holbach’s death. After hours of questioning, he confessed to helping Avery rape and kill Halbach in the Avery family’s salvage yard in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.
Last August, a federal magistrate judge overturned Dassey’s conviction, ruling that investigators coerced Dassey, who suffers from cognitive problems, into confessing. The state Justice Department appealed the ruling to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a decision that has kept Dassey, now 27, locked up while awaiting the outcome.
On Thursday, the three-judge panel from the Chicago-based 7th Circuit upheld the federal magistrate’s ruling to overturn his conviction. The appellate panel split 2-1, with Judges Ilana Rovner and Ann Williams affirming and David Hamilton dissenting.
— Nova Online (@NovaOnlineUs) June 22, 2017
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) June 22, 2017
Wisconsin has 90 days to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, ask for a review by the full 7th Circuit, or re-try Dassey.
Defense attorney Laura H. Nirider, who helped advocate on Dassey’s behalf, called the decision “a victory for Brendan.”
The majority opinion by Rovner stated that “no reasonable court” could be convinced that Dassey’s confession was voluntary, citing “the leading, the fact-feeding, the false promises, the manipulation of Dassey’s desire to please” as causes for doubt.
Since Holbach’s murder, Dassey and his uncle have argued that they were framed by Manitowoc police angry with Avery for filing a $36 million lawsuit for his wrongful conviction for sexual assault. Avery spent 18 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit until DNA evidence led to his exoneration. He’s currently pursuing his own appeal in state court.
(H/T: Associated Press)