A federal appeals court in Chicago heard arguments Tuesday in a case that could release Brendan Dassey from prison.
A full panel of judges with the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing an earlier decision by a federal magistrate, who ruled last year that Dassey’s confession to the 2005 murder of photographer Teresa Halbach was coerced. That decision was upheld earlier this year by a three judge panel, which prompted a request for a full review by the court.
Dassey, along with his uncle Steven Avery, are serving life sentences for Halbach’s murder. Dassey’s confession was a key part of the evidence used to convict him for his role in the murder. The case has received new attention in recent years, following the release of “Making a Murderer,” a Netflix series about the trial.
During arguments in court, Attorney Laura Nirider, Dassey’s lawyer, focused in on promises investigators made to the then 16-year-old that the “truth would set him free.” She argued the idiom was something that Dassey, who has a low IQ, could not understand and the promise resulted in him offering a confession.
“That’s why the moment when Brendan Dassey asks to go back to school is so powerful,” Nirider said. “It’s speaks to his understanding of the bargain that has been struck.”
Deputy Solicitor General Luke Berg argued Dassey was informed of his rights multiple times during police interviews, and offered investigators details of the crime that were weighing down on him and proved his guilt. “None of those memories were suggested to him by the officers…they were very raw and very real, and Dassey needed to get them out.”
A decision by the court may not be made for several months.