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Federal Court Supports Overturning Murder Conviction of Making a Murderer‘s Brendan Dassey

In August of last year, a Wisconsin district court ruled that the 2005 conviction of Making a Murderer‘s Brendan Dassey for the murder of Theresa Halbach, which he was charged with carrying out with his help of his uncle Steven Avery, should be overturned. The district court found that inappropriate interrogation techniques were used to solicit his confession by detectives. But in November, Dassey’s release from prison, which was supposed to occur 90 days later, was delayed due to a successful motion by the State of Wisconsin to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to keep the 27-year-old in jail until the district court’s ruling had been upheld by the higher court.

Today, the federal appeals court has upheld the Wisconsin district court’s ruling in favor of Dassey’s conviction being overturned. The State of Wisconsin now has 90 days to move for a retrial of Dassey, or they can challenge the appeals court’s decision in the U.S. Supreme Court. You can read the court’s ruling in its entirety here, but here’s the most important passage:

The decision of the district court is AFFIRMED, with costs, in all respects. The writ of habeas corpus is GRANTED unless the State of Wisconsin elects to retry Dassey within 90 days of issuance of this court’s final mandate, or of the Supreme Court’s final mandate. The above is in accordance with the decision of this court entered on this date.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice is debating challenging the ruling yet again, so it remains yet to be determined if Dassey will be able to walk free. A representative told Milwaukee’s WISN-12:

We are evaluating the 2-1 decision from the court. We anticipate seeking review by the entire 7th Circuit or the United States Supreme Court and hope that today’s erroneous decision will be reversed. We continue to send our condolences to the Halbach family as they have to suffer through another attempt by Mr. Dassey to re-litigate his guilty verdict and sentence.

More on this as it develops, but the odds of Dassey walking out of prison this fall are looking strong. As for Steven Avery, he continues to assert his innocence as well. Avery’s lawyer Kathleen Zellner filed a motion earlier this month in Wisconsin court arguing that her client should be granted another trial, but, at the time of this writing, it has not been approved.