A Wisconsin appeals court says Brendan Dassey, who was 16 when he confessed to helping his uncle rape and kill a woman, must remain in prison while the state appeals a lower judge’s decision to overturn his conviction.
The crime is the subject of the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer.
As we reported, a lower court overturned Dassey’s conviction in August, and the same court ordered his release last week. In that decision, Judge William Duffin said Dassey did not pose a danger to the community and was not likely to run away if he was released.
But the state filed an emergency injunction to keep Dassey behind bars, and on Thursday, a three-judge panel granted the motion. They did not give a reason for the decision.
Carla Chase, a relative of Dassey’s who describes herself on Twitter as a spokesperson for the family, wrote that “words can’t express what we are feeling.”
As the Two-Way has reported, Dassey was originally convicted largely on the basis of a confession in which he told police he had helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape and kill a woman named Teresa Halbach.
As we previously reported:
“Halbach was killed at the Avery Salvage Yard, where she had been hired to photograph vehicles for a magazine, according to court documents. Investigators found burned human remains that matched Halbach’s DNA, along with her car, where they discovered multiple bloodstains.
“The focus of the judge’s decision was on the interrogation when Dassey confessed. Over the course of a three-hour period of questioning, ‘generally responding to the investigators’ questions with answers of just a few hushed words, a story evolved whereby in its final iteration Dassey implicated himself in the rape, murder and mutilation of Teresa Halbach,’ according to the judge’s [August] decision.
“Investigators ‘exploited the absence of … an adult by repeatedly suggesting that they were looking out for his interests,’ the decision stated, and ruled that the confession had been involuntary, and warranted overturning the original conviction.”
In July, Netflix announced it would “provide an in-depth look at the high-stakes post-conviction process,” in additional follow-up episodes of the documentary series about the crime.