A U.S. federal appeals court in Chicago has affirmed the overturned conviction of Brendan Dassey, whose case was highlighted on the gripping Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer. Three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit voted 2-1 to uphold the overturned conviction issued by U.S. Magistrate William Duffin of Milwaukee in August 2016. The court also granted a writ of habeus corpus, which means that Brendan Dassey must either be released, or re-tried by the state, meaning he may not be set free just yet. Here's an excerpt from the
"The decision of the district court is affirmed 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."
This means that the State of Wisconsin has 90 days to decide whether they want to re-try Brendan Dassey, appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, or set him free. We reported in November that a federal judge ordered Brendan Dassey be set free, but the prosecution was trying to stay that release. Just a few days later, an appeals court granted the prosecution's stay, blocking Brendan Dassey's release, pending the resolution of this appeals case, which the judge ruled in favor of Dassey just today. Now Brendan Dassey will likely wait in jail for 90 more days as the state decides whether to re-try Dassey, or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel spoke with Johnny Koremenos, director of communications and public affairs for the Wisconsin Department of Justice, who had this to say about the appeals court decision, indicating that they plan on appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"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."
When U.S. Magistrate William Duffin overturned the conviction last year, he stated that the detectives made "false promises" to Brendan Dassey, who at the time was just 16 years of age, and with the young man's "intellectual deficits and the absence of a supportive adult" rendering his confession "involuntary." During the appeal, one of Brendan Dassey's attorneys, Laura Nirider, stated that investigators fed him the answers they wanted to hear, with the ruling mentioning that Dassey's confession mentioned none of the physical evidence found in the Avery home. Here's what Laura Nirider had to say about the appeals court upholding her client's overturned conviction.
"As of today, Brendan has been locked up for 4,132 days. For the first time, this decision brings the end of that road in sight. We're not there yet. This is a confession that nobody can have any faith in."
Brendan Dassey's uncle, Steven Avery, is also appealing his conviction for the 2005 murder of Theresa Halbach. Just a month before Brendan Dassey's conviction was overturned, Netflix renewed Making a Murderer for Season 2, with the streaming service confirming that the new season will debut at some point in 2017. Since the first season debuted in mid-December 2015, it's possible that Netflix could use a similar frame to debut the second season. Hopefully Netflix announces more about Making a Murderer Season 2, as Brendan Dassey gets closer to his release from prison.