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Prosecutor Fights To Keep ‘Making A Murderer’ Convict In Jail

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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Wisconsin’s top prosecutor will appeal a court order vacating Brendan Dassey’s conviction for the 2005 sexual assault and murder of Teresa Halbach, whose horrific death became the subject of the hit Netflix documentary “Making A Murderer.”

Dassey will stay in prison while the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals evaluates the appeal.

“Two state courts carefully examined the evidence and properly concluded that Brendan Dassey’s confession to sexually assaulting and murdering Teresa Halbach with his uncle, Steven Avery, was voluntary, and the investigators did not use constitutionally impermissible tactics,” Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said in a statement. “The Halbach family has been notified of the appeal and fully supports the State’s decision to seek justice on behalf of their daughter.”

A federal judge in Wisconsin vacated Dassey’s conviction last month, finding his confession to the crime was coerced and violated the Fifth and 14th Amendments. The video of an interrogation conducted by two police officers, during which time the confession occurred, indicates 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. (RELATED: Judge Overturns Conviction Of ‘Making A Murderer’ Subject)

The court considered these facts in light of other factors, including ineffective assistance of counsel and Dassey’s intellectual deficits.

Should the ruling stand, the development will not necessarily strengthen Avery’s campaign for a new case. Avery is currently serving a life sentence for his role in Halbach’s disappearance and death. Dassey did not testify in Avery’s trial, nor was a video of his confession used by prosecutors. Avery’s new attorney, Kathleen Zellner, hopes to win a new trial by retesting forensic evidence with updated methods and presenting an alternative theory as to Halbach’s death.

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