In what comes as another crushing blow to ‘Making A Murderer’ defendant Brendan Dassey, who was ordered to be freed by 8 PM on Friday, November 18, by a federal judge, his much anticipated release has been blocked once again by a federal appeals court. Dassey’s original conviction was overturned by magistrate William E. Duffin in August of this year and though prosecutors in the case filed an appeal, Duffin still ordered the young man be discharged. Dassey, who was just 16 at the time of his arrest, has spent more than a decade behind bars for crimes few believe he committed in a Wisconsin prison. He is now 27-years-old.
On Wednesday, the state Department of Justice filed an emergency motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to prevent him from leaving jail in what has become a devastating series of setbacks for Dassey, his family, his supporters and his loyal team of attorneys. The Wisconsin DOJ stated in their filing Dassey should remain behind bars until the initial appeal has been settled in conjunction with Duffin’s first ruling to overturn his conviction.
Last week, Duffin ordered Dassey be released on his own recognizance throughout the appeals process due to his exemplary prison disciplinary record, having set forth several conditions Dassey must meet in order to remain free. His attorneys argued he did not pose a flight risk, was not a danger to society and would adhere to the rules specified by Duffin upon his release. These terms, however, failed to satisfy the state’s Attorney General Brad Schimel, who continues to self-validate his belief the right man is in jail, despite the ever-increasing controversy surrounding the facts of the case; particularly, the manner in which law enforcement officials elicited a confession from Dassey, which he later recanted.
Dassey has been diagnosed as having a borderline to below average I.Q. and was provided confidential facts of the case by investigators throughout four grueling days of interrogations without a lawyer or parent present. Having initially stated he had no knowledge of the crime that took place, his story later changed to match that of the one the police had constructed.
The case was introduced to an extraordinarily broad audience through the original Netflix documentary series ‘Making A Murderer’ in December of 2015, which followed the arrests and trials of both Dassey and his uncle, Steven Avery, in the brutal rape and slaying of Auto Trader Magazine photographer Teresa Halbach, whose charred remains were found in a bonfire pit at the Avery family’s auto salvage yard in 2005. At the time of their arrests, Avery was involved in a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Manitowoc County after having served 18 years in prison for a rape he did not commit.
Duffin wrote in his initial ruling to overturn Dassey’s conviction that “the investigators repeatedly claimed to already know what happened on October 31 and assured Dassey that he had nothing to worry about. These repeated false promises, when considered in conjunction with all relevant factors, most especially Dassey’s age, intellectual deficits, and the absence of a supportive adult, rendered Dassey’s confession involuntary under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.”
Schimel, however, has seemed to make it his personal mission to keep Dassey behind bars, having stated to the press after Duffin overturned his conviction, “We believe the magistrate judge’s decision that Brendan Dassey’s confession was coerced by investigators, and that no reasonable court could have concluded otherwise, is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law.”
As a result of this latest development, Dassey will remain in jail until a final decision has been made regarding the original appeal filed by Schimel in response to Duffin’s August ruling. How long that will take remains unknown, though the creators of ‘Making A Murderder’ are currently filming episodes for a second season, promising in-depth coverage of Dassey’s appeal process and the emotional toll it has taken on the young man, as well as the current state of Avery’s case.