Making a Murderer Inmate Scores a Legal Victory

Appeals court hands win to Brendan Dassey
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2017 7:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – A big win for Brendan Dassey: A federal appeals court panel has ordered Wisconsin to retry the inmate within 90 days or set him free, Courthouse News reports. The Chicago-based 7th Circuit panel upheld a ruling that overturned his conviction last year in the case made famous by Netflix's Making a Murderer. Dassey, now 27, was 16 years old when he was arrested for allegedly helping uncle Steven Avery rape and murder Theresa Halbach. He was interrogated without a parent or lawyer present and in Thursday's 2-1 ruling, judges wrote that the "fact-feeding, the false promises, the manipulation of Dassey's desire to please, the physical, fatherly assurances" led to a confession that should not be considered voluntary.

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Dassey, who suffered from cognitive problems, recanted the confession but was sentenced to life in prison. Dissenting judge David Hamilton said the ruling "calls into question standard interrogation techniques that courts have routinely found permissible, even in cases involving juveniles." Dassey's lawyers said they were elated by the ruling and will now work to get him back to his mother after 4,132 days in prison as of Thursday, the AP reports. Wisconsin's Justice Department, which blocked Dassey's release last fall, says it hopes the "erroneous decision will be reversed" by either the full 7th Circuit court or the US Supreme Court, reports Fox 6. (A lawyer for Avery says the real killer was Halbach's ex-boyfriend.)

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