Brendan Dassey’s Conviction Was Overturned By A Federal Judge

On Friday, one of the subjects of the hit Netflix docuseries Making a Murderer, Brendan Dassey, had his conviction overturned by a federal judge, The Journal Sentinel reports. Dassey was convicted for the murder of Teresa Halbach along with his uncle, Steven Avery, in 2007 on counts of first-degree intentional homicide, mutilation of a corpse, and first-degree sexual assault. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 2048, and has been in jail since initially arrested at the age of 16.

According to NBC affiliate TMJ4, he could be released within 90 days. Federal Magistrate William Duffin issued the decision in Milwaukee, giving the state three months to decide whether or not to retry Dassey. Duffin said Dassey’s confession was “involuntary” based on “false promises” made by interrogators, as well as citing Dassey’s age and “intellectual deficits.”

Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth legal team led Dassey’s most recent appeals, trying to get a judge to rule that Dassey was illegally imprisoned because of the way he was coerced into confessing to helping Avery kill Halbach. Judge Duffin was sitting on their latest plea for months, as the attorneys, Dassey, and Making a Murderer enthusiasts patiently waited for his decision, but he eventually agreed that Dassey was misled.

Dassey is currently at the Columbia Correctional Institution, where he’ll stay if the state decides to mount a retrial. It would be extremely time consuming and costly to retry Dassey now, years after the murder, and the media and public would be watching the whole ordeal under a microscope, but it is possible Wisconsin will decide to move forward.

Avery, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole, is still appealing his conviction and has maintained his innocence since the very beginning. His new lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, is keeping his supporters updated on Twitter, claiming to have new evidence that proves Avery was framed for the gruesome murder.

Netflix announced last month that a second season of the addictive docuseries is being made, following both men after their convictions, where the first season left us. “The new installments will take fans of the acclaimed documentary series back inside the story of convicted murderer Steven Avery, and his co-defendant, Brendan Dassey, as their respective investigative and legal teams challenge their convictions and the State fights to have the convictions and life sentences upheld,” Netflix’s press release said.

The new developments in Dassey’s case will make the new episodes even more thrilling, though his story could continue if the state decides to re-examine his case.