‘Making a Murderer’ confession coerced, judges rule
CHICAGO – The confession of a Wisconsin inmate featured in the Netflix series “Making a Murderer” was improperly obtained and he should be released from prison, a three-judge federal appeals panel ruled Thursday.
Brendan Dassey was sentenced to life in prison in 2007 in photographer Teresa Halbach’s death on Halloween two years earlier. Dassey told detectives he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape and kill Halbach in the Avery family’s Manitowoc County salvage yard. Avery was sentenced to life in a separate trial.
A federal magistrate judge ruled in August that investigators coerced Dassey, who was 16 years old at the time and suffered from cognitive problems, into confessing and overturned his conviction. The state Justice Department appealed the ruling to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a move that kept Dassey, now 27, behind bars pending the outcome.
A three-judge panel from the Chicago-based 7th Circuit upheld the magistrate’s decision to overturn his conviction. State attorneys’ only recourse now is the U.S. Supreme Court. They could also elect to re-try Dassey.
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