Federal Judges Uphold Ruling To Overturn Brendan Dassey Conviction

7th Circuit Affirms 'Making A Murderer' Confession Was Coerced

Brendan Dassey
Eric Young/AP Photo

A three-judge federal appeals panel has affirmed a Wisconsin inmate featured in the Netflix series “Making a Murderer” was coerced into confessing and should be released from prison.

Brendan Dassey was sentenced to life in prison in 2007 in photographer Teresa Halbach’s death 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.

A federal magistrate judge ruled in August that investigators coerced Dassey, who was 16 at the time and suffered from cognitive problems, into confessing.

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The defense team for Dassey is welcoming the ruling. Laura Nirider with the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth at Northwestern University called Thursday’s ruling “a victory for Brendan.”

A spokesman for the state Department of Justice called the court’s ruling “erroneous” and said the department is evaluating the 2-1 decision.

The DOJ appealed the ruling to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel from the 7th Circuit on Thursday affirmed the lower court and said Dassey should be freed unless the state chooses to retry him.