Judges rule that 'Making a Murderer' confession was coerced

A U.S. federal appeals court has found a confession made by Making A Murderer convict Brendan Dassey was coerced by authorities, ruling that he should be released or re-tried.

In a 2-1 decision issued Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit upheld the August 2016 decision by Federal Magistrate William Duffin of Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, Brendan Dassey's uncle and Making A Murderer co-star Steven Avery was also convicted in Halbach's murder, and remains in prison, despite his lawyer claiming to know who really killed Teresa Maybach.

In November, the federal judge who overturned the conviction granted a petition for Dassey's release, but just three days later the 7th Circuit granted the state's motion that Dassey remain in prison during the appeals process.

Last year, a judge ordered that he be released as he said the confession was coerced and consideration had to be given "to his age, intellectual deficits and the absence of a supportive adult". They now have 90 days from the court's order to retry him, and state attorneys could also appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. His uncle, Steven Avery, also is serving a life term in connection with the killing and is appealing his conviction.

The series showed footage of police interviews with then 15-year-old Dassey, wherein he had no legal representation or guardian present. "And this pattern continued until Dassey finally voiced what the investigators wanted him to say, seemingly guessing, or the investigators fed him the information they wanted". Weighed against this irrecoverable loss of time, it is undeniable that "every day Petitioner spends in prison compounds the substantial harm that he has suffered on account of imprisonment based upon an unconstitutional conviction". Schimel says the state will take whatever steps necessary to keep Dassey behind bars. Duffin called the confession "so clearly involuntary in a constitutional sense that the court of appeals' decision to the contrary was an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law". Ken Kratz, the prosecutor, wrote in his book Avery that Dassey was "a shuffling, mumbling young man with bad skin and broken-bowl haircut" who could have saved Halbach's life but instead involved himself in her rape and murder and Avery is "by any measure of the evidence, stone guilty".

The ruling marks a major victory for Dassey, now 27, whose confession became a key subplot in the series.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice has up to three months to decide whether to re-try Dassey for Halbach's murder. Millions of Americans were captivated when the murder, resultant investigations and subsequent trials were documented in the Netflix feature "Making a Murderer" past year.

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