The Associated Press reports that Brendan Dassey, one of the defendants featured on “Making a Murderer”, will remain in prison after a Chicago federal appeals court overturned a lower court’s ruling that would have freed him. The decision narrowly passed, and a dissenting judge called it a “profound miscarriage of justice.”
At issue was Dassey’s confession to his involvement in the murder of Teresa Halbach in 2005. He claims his confession was coerced by investigators before being sentenced to life in prison. His confession included claims that he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, in the raping and murder of Halbach.
The court’s decision was that Wisconsin state courts which had determined the confession wasn’t coerced in the past were reasonable in their findings. The panel overturned with a 4 to 3 opinion, and the ruling stated that though the fact the confession “was voluntary was not beyond fair debate, but we conclude it was reasonable.”
Dissenting Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner stated, “His confession was not voluntary and his conviction should not stand, and yet an impaired teenager has been sentenced to life in prison.”
Last year, a federal magistrate judge overturned Dassey’s conviction, and ruled that investigators took advantage of his youth and learning disabilities when obtaining the confession. Another judge panel upheld this ruling in June, but the state asked the full 7th Circuit panel for a review, leading to this latest development in the case.
When the state asked for a review from the high court, it argued that the investigators had used tactics that had long been accepted during questioning. It is not typical for the high court to accept such a case.
Dassey and Avery claim the police framed them after Avery won a civil suit against the county for wrongful imprisonment. The series “Making a Murderer” aired in 2015 on Netflix and has spawned several advocates for their innocence. Authorities, however, claim the information in the series was biased.
*Photo credit Netflix