A three judge panel in the federal court of appeals has affirmed a lower court ruling, which determined that Brendan Dassey’s confession to the rape and murder of photographer Teresa Halbach was coerced and that he should be released from prison.
Dassey and his Uncle Steven Avery were convicted in 2007 for the death of Halbach, whose car and remains were found at the Avery family salvage yard. Both were given life sentences. The case received renewed attention a little more than a year ago, following the release of the Netflix series “Making a Murderer,” which raised a number of questions about the investigation into Halbach’s death.
Dassey’s appeal of his conviction focused heavily on a confession the then 16-year-old gave to police, which his attorneys argued had been coerced by investigators. Thursday’s 2-1 decision was a result of the state appealing that ruling.
The court has given the state 90 days to decide whether it will appeal. In a statement, Wisconsin Department of Justice spokesman Johnny Koremenos said the agency does anticipate it will seek a review of the decision by the entire 7th Circuit Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court, adding that they “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,” Koremenos said.