Judge calls for release of Netflix-famous ‘murderer’
A US judge on November 14 ordered the release from prison of Brendan Dassey, one of two men convicted of murder in a case featured in the Netflix series Making a Murderer.
The US federal judge in Wisconsin, William Duffin, said that Dassey, 27, should be released while prosecutors appeal his August ruling that overturned Dassey’s murder conviction.
The attorney general in Wisconsin, Brad Schimel, quickly said he would move to block the release of Dassey.
Dassey and his uncle Steven Avery were sentenced to life terms in 2007 for the murder of a female photographer, Teresa Halbach, in 2005.
Their story was featured in the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer, launched in December 2015, that raised questions about the US legal system and prompted many viewers to believe the pair were improperly convicted.
Judge Duffin’s order in August overturning Dassey’s conviction and ordering his release had included harsh rebukes of the investigating police and of Leonard Kachinsky, the public defender appointed in 2006 to represent Dassey – a 16-year-old minor at the time.
Dassey has intellectual deficits and was unfairly pushed into a confession during a controversial interrogation, and his defense was inadequate, supporters of his release argue.
Following the Netflix series, fans called for the two men to be freed and almost 130,000 people signed a White House petition asking for a presidential pardon.
The White House explained that because the men were not convicted of federal crimes and “are both state prisoners”, pardoning them was outside the scope of the president’s power.
The documentary was prompted by the unusual story of Avery. He was exonerated of a rape case through DNA evidence and freed from prison in 2003 after serving 18 years behind bars.
Two years later, while he was suing Manitowoc County in Wisconsin over wrongful imprisonment, he was arrested over the death of the 25-yearold Halbach.
Brendan Dassey, whose murder conviction featured in the Netflix series Making a Murderer, has been ordered released as he awaits an appellate court decision.