When Making A Murderer premiered on Netflix in December 2015, hordes of people became overnight detectives. It depicted the turbulent life of convicted felon, Steven Avery, who is currently serving life imprisonment for first-degree murder.
While the evidence against the 55-year-old salvage yard worker was certainly plentiful, there were also several elements of the story that did not add up, and that’s exactly what made it into a mystery which the world could not resist trying to solve.
Immediately after the series became a global success, there were calls for Steven Avery, and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, who had also been sentenced to life imprisonment for the same murder, to be released. A petition sent to the White House calling for the pair to be pardoned garnered more than 128,000 signatures, but it was ultimately rejected.
Dassey, who was 16-years-old when Teresa Halbach was murdered in 2005, was charged with first-degree murder, second-degree sexual assault and mutilation of a corpse. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with eligibility for parole in 2048.
However, since Making A Murderer came to the public’s attention, there have been many calls to have the now-28-year-old exonerated.
Dassey, who had originally been represented by two public defenders, was alleged to have assisted his uncle with the murder of 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach in 2005.
The Manitowoc County native, with a severely low IQ, confessed to the crimes during an interrogation conducted by law enforcement officers where he had no legal representative or parent present.
His first trial, which commenced in 2007, lasted for nine days. Despite only being 17 years old at the time, Dassey was tried as an adult, and his intellectual limitations were not acknowledged. The jury deliberated for four hours before concluding that he was guilty.
The report below details the latest updates on Dassey’s case:
Three years later, the 28-year-old’s attorneys entered a motion for a retrial which was denied. An appeal to the Wisconsin State of Appeals was also denied three years later.
But then, just as Dassey’s family had begun to believe there was nothing more they could do, Making A Murderer was released. The media attention that the show attracted meant that Dassey was afforded another opportunity to have his case heard in court.
The month that the show premiered, rallies were held around the world for Dassey’s exoneration and multiple petitions for the investigation of the officers who interrogated him were submitted. His attorneys also filed a writ of habeas corpus in federal court for Dassey’s release or retrial.
The following year, federal magistrate William E. Duffin, ruled that Dassey’s confession had been coerced and ordered for him to be released. However, a few months later, the Wisconsin Justice Department appealed Duffin’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals, who blocked Dassey’s release pending a hearing.
A further seven months later, a panel of three judges from the Court of Appeals upheld Duffin’s decision to overturn Dassey’s conviction, but once again, the Wisconsin Justice Department appealed.
This time, after the case was reconsidered, it was decided that Dassey’s confession had been obtained properly and, for that reason, the now-28-year-old will stay behind bars. However, the seven judges that debated this matter was firmly divided, voting four to three that Dassey’s confession wasn’t coerced.
“The state courts’ finding that Dassey’s confession was voluntary was not beyond fair debate, but we conclude it was reasonable,” their 39-page ruling stated.
People across the world reacted with rage upon hearing the verdict.
“That guy is mentally handicapped and was denied counsel. They also wouldn’t even let his mom see him. What a crock,” wrote one user online.
Another added, “Guilty or not, this kid wasn’t given a fair shake. His legal defense fell far short of what should be standard.”
“Hopefully it can go to the United States Supreme Court, and this travesty can be rectified,” wrote another.
Meanwhile, Making A Murderer season two is soon to air on Netflix. The precise date of the release has not yet been confirmed, but it was originally said to be happening in 2017.
However, season two, which follows Avery and Dassey as they fight to have their convictions overturned, may now be delayed in light of this latest development in Dassey’s case.