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Federal Court Blocks Brendan Dassey Release

Federal Court Blocks Brendan Dassey Release
Dassey mugshot

The Wisconsin Justice Department filed an emergency motion with the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to block the release of Brendan Dassey. A three-judge panel from the appeals court ruled Thursday to keep Dassey behind bars.

As reported earlier this week, Brendan Dassey’s conviction was overturned in August after Judge William Duffin ruled that prosecutors had coerced the teen into confessing that he had helped his uncle kill Teresa Halbach in 2005. Dassey had been ordered released on Monday by the same judge, contingent upon him meeting multiple conditions. On Wednesday, that judge ordered that Dassey be released by 8p.m. on Friday.

brendan dassey
Judge William Duffin

“These repeated false promises, when considered in conjunction with all relevant factors, most especially Dassey’s age, intellectual deficits, and the absence of a supportive adult, rendered Dassey’s confession involuntary,” Duffin wrote in the order. “Dassey’s confession was, as a practical matter, the entirety of the case against him on each of the three counts,” he wrote. Judge Duffin went on to clarify by stating Dassey’s confession to police in 2006 was “so clearly involuntary” that a state appeals court ruling to the contrary was an unreasonable application of established federal law. The judge made it clear the investigators did not have any ill motive, but rather “an intentional and concerted effort to trick Dassey into confessing.”

In August, attorneys for Dassey made this statement regarding the judge’s decision to overturn the Dassey verdict, “The court’s decision rests on a fundamental principle that is too often forgotten by courts and law enforcement officers: Interrogation tactics which may not be coercive when used on adults are coercive when used on juveniles, particularly young people like Brendan with disabilities.”

The 10-part Netflix docuseries Making a Murderer was released in December, and suggested that police investigators had coerced Mr. Dassey, then 16, into a confession and had unfairly questioned him without a lawyer or parent present. It portrayed him as mentally unfit.

Today’s ruling represents a win for Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, who had fought the release. Dassey will stay in prison pending the outcome of the appeal, while his uncle Steven Avery continues to await a new trial. Both men maintain their innocence to this day.