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Court upholds overturned conviction for Making A Murderer's Brendan Dassey

27 June 2017

The Chicago-based 7th Circuit panel upheld a ruling that overturned his conviction a year ago in the case made famous by Netflix's Making a Murderer.

A United States federal appeals court has found a confession made by Making A Murderer convict Brendan Dassey was coerced by authorities, ruling that he should be released or re-tried.

The death of Halbach and the conviction of Avery and Dassey placed Manitowoc County in the national spotlight.

Meanwhile a lawyer acting on behalf of Avery has called for a new trial, alleging Halbach may have been killed by her ex-boyfriend and not the man jailed for her death.

Dassey's controversial confession - obtained when he was just 16 years old and without parental or legal supervision - was first ruled unlawful and his conviction overturned by a Milwaukee magistrate in August 2016.

In a 2-1 decision, the appeals panel affirmed that court's ruling, saying "no reasonable court" could have any confidence that Dassey's confession was voluntary.

Another of his attorneys, Steven Drizin, said today's ruling should send a loud message to state district courts and state appeals courts, which initially upheld Dassey's 2007 murder conviction. The state could still appeal to the US Supreme Court, or they could elect to retry Dassey as the original ruling suggested.

"As of today's date, Brendan Dassey has lost 4,132 days of his life to prison", they added.

Avery served 18 years of a 32-year sentence after he was wrongfully convicted for sexual assault.

In the meantime, Dassey's lawyers said they would again move to have Dassey freed pending further action in the case.

The case was the subject of the 10-part documentary "Making a Murderer", which questioned the handling of the investigation and the motives of Manitowoc County law enforcement officials.

But "it became clear that "honesty" meant those things that the investigators wanted Dassey to say", the ruling states.

Dassey's uncle, Avery, remains convicted of murder but continues to challenge that conviction from prison.

The case against Dassey was constructed largely on that confession, in which he stated that he helped to rape and kill a woman named Teresa Halbach, as The Two-Way has reported. Rovner also held that Dassey's mental capacity made him specially vulnerable to such manipulation, which might otherwise be Constitutional. Given those factors, people felt Dassey was wrongly pressured into his confession. The state has 90 days to decide whether or not to retry Dassey.

Prosecutors in the case contend that Dassey was not coerced and that the documentary was in extremely one-sided and biased in favor of Avery and Dassey.

Court upholds overturned conviction for Making A Murderer's Brendan Dassey