Brendan Dassey, 27, became a household name in 2005 for his alleged involvement in the murder of Teresa Halbach. His case was featured last year on Netflix’s 10-part documentary Making a Murderer. Today, he has been made a free man after Judge William Duffin released him citing prosecutors made “false promises” in telling Dassey he “had nothing to worry about” when they coerced him into confessing to helping his uncle rape and murder the victim.
Dassey, who has learning difficulties, and his uncle Steven Avery were convicted of murdering Halbach, in 2005. Avery and Dassey, who was 16 at the time, were sentenced to life in prison. Dassey’s murder conviction was overturned this summer, however, prosecutors are appealing. Meanwhile, his uncle still sits in prison awaiting DNA evidence to clear him of this crime.
Judge William Duffin ordered that Bendan Dassey be freed from prison under supervision until the next steps in the case become clear, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Under his release conditions, he must submit to the probation and parole office by midday on Tuesday the address where he plans to reside. Dassey also must not have any contact with Ms Halbach’s family, or co-defendant Avery.
State Attorney General Brad Schimel quickly moved to block the release, at least temporarily. His office announced it would file an emergency motion asking a federal appeals court to stay the release order. Wisconsin’s attorney general had asked that Dassey not be released pending the appeal. Dassey was not released Monday, as many of his supporters had speculated, but his legal team is hoping for a short timeline according to one of his attorneys, Steven Drizin.
“It’s not going to happen today but we are very hopeful we will have Brendan home by Thanksgiving, if not sooner,” Drizin said, “That’s what I’m focused on right now, getting him home, getting him with his family and then helping him to re-integrate back into society while his appeal plays out.”
Avery was accused and found guilty of murdering Ms. Halbach, a photographer for Auto Trader Magazine. Her charred remains were found at Avery’s car salvage yard a week after she went there to photograph a minivan for sale.
The documentary series focused on the conduct of law officials in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. They had been facing a huge financial penalty over an earlier case in which Avery was wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years for sexual assault. The filmmakers cast doubt on the legal process used to convict Brendan Dassey and Steven Avery.
We may never know the truth of what happened to Ms. Halbach over eleven years ago. This case, and so many like it, should at least give pause to anyone who trusts fully the American legal system. Whether Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are guilty or not, it is clear by the events shown in the Netflix docuseries that something is wrong in Wisconsin.