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Judges affirm 'Making a Murderer' confession was coerced

24 June 2017

A three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled 2-1 to uphold a federal judge's ruling past year that overturned Dassey's conviction for a 2005 murder.

A three-judge panel from the Chicago-based 7th Circuit on Thursday upheld the magistrate's decision to overturn his conviction.

Steven Avery's attorney went to Waupun Correctional Institution on Friday to inform her client that a federal court a day earlier had affirmed a lower court's ruling overturning his nephew's conviction in the 2005 death of photographer Teresa Halbach.

The decision could set in motion the release of Brendan Dassey from prison after 10 years behind bars. Ken Kratz, the prosecutor, wrote in his book Avery that Dassey was "a shuffling, mumbling young man with bad skin and broken-bowl haircut" who could have saved Halbach's life but instead involved himself in her rape and murder and Avery is "by any measure of the evidence, stone guilty". We anticipate seeking review by the entire 7th Circuit or the United States Supreme Court and hope that today's erroneous decision will be reversed.

Duffin found that Dassey's constitutional rights were violated because investigators for the prosecution made false promises during multiple interrogations.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice has 90 days from the court's ruling to decide whether to re-try the case. The ruling states that Dassey's confession to helping his uncle rape and kill Halbach was involuntary under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

"There was no physical evidence linking Dassey to the murder of Halbach - investigators did not find any of Dassey's DNA or blood on any of the many objects that were mentioned in his confession - the knives in Avery's house, gun, handcuffs, bed, RAV4, key, or automotive dolly", the decision states.

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Authorities who worked on the cases insisted the documentary is biased.

November 5, 2005: Halbach's cousins find her vehicle under brush and auto parts in the Avery salvage yard. Halbach disappeared on Halloween 2005, and investigators said her charred remains were found on the Avery property.

In a joint statement, lawyers said they were "overjoyed", adding: "We look forward to working to secure his release from prison as soon as possible". Avery was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide and unlawful possession of a firearm as a felon.

"Dassey, however, had trouble maintaining a consistent story except when he was being led step-by-step through the facts, thus confirming that his confession emerged not from his own free will, but from the will of investigators".

Dassey's lawyers, Professors Steven Drizin and Laura Nirider of the Centre on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, commended the judges' decision. Both were sentenced to life in prison.

Netflix's Making a Murderer is a 10-part documentary series that follows the case of Wisconsin natives Avery and Dassey. If they don't do either of those things in the next 90 days, then Dassey could be released from prison.

Judges affirm 'Making a Murderer' confession was coerced