“Making a Murderer” subject Brendan Dassey saw his conviction for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach overturned on Friday.
Dassey, 26, and his uncle Steven Avery, were the subjects of Netflix’s hit documentary “Making a Murderer.” Avery was originally convicted of the sexual assault of Penny Ann Beernsten, a Wisconsin woman assaulted while running along the Lake Michigan shoreline. DNA evidence later exonerated him of the offense. Approximately two years after his release, he and his nephew, Dassey, were arrested and convicted of Halbach’s murder. The crime was examined at length in the Netflix series.
A federal judge in Wisconsin vacated Dassey’s conviction, finding his confession to the crime was coerced and violative of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Video of an interrogation conducted by two police officers, during which time the confession occurred, indicate the officers used aggressive and coercive tactics resulting in Dassey’s gradual acquiescence. The officers repeatedly made false promises to Dassey and insisted that they already had established what occurred during the crime.
The court considered these facts in light of other factors, including the absence of counsel and Dassey’s intellectual deficits.
Judge William Duffin ordered that Dassey is to be released within 90 days, unless the state of Wisconsin plans to proceed with a retrial.
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