UK

Brendan Dassey’s Murder Confession Was Coerced And He May Be Released From Prison

He was jailed in 2007.

23/06/2017 09:38 BST | Updated 23/06/2017 10:06 BST

The murder confession of a man featured in the Netflix series Making a Murderer was coerced and he should be released from prison, an appeal court has ruled.

Brendan Dassey, 27, was sentenced to life behind bars in 2007 over photographer Teresa Halbach’s death two years earlier. Dassey told detectives he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape and kill Halbach in the Avery family’s Manitowoc County salvage yard.

Handout . / Reuters
Brendan Dassey could be freed unless the state of Wisconsin decides to retry him 

A federal magistrate judge ruled in August that investigators coerced Dassey, who was 16 at the time and suffered from cognitive problems, into confessing.

The state Justice Department appealed the ruling to the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel from the 7th Circuit on Thursday affirmed the lower court and said Dassey should be freed unless the state of Wisconsin chooses to retry him.

Meanwhile a lawyer acting on behalf of Avery has called for a new trial, alleging Halbach may have been killed by her ex-boyfriend and not the man jailed for her death.

Handout . / Reuters
Steven Avery also maintains his innocence 

Kathleen Zellner says Avery’s conviction was based on planted evidence and false testimony in a 1,272-page document, the first 220 pages of which are available to view on her website.

She contends Avery deserves a new trial “in the interests of justice” and because “the real controversy was never tried,” USA Today Network-Wisconsin reported.

AP
Avery was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of first-degree homicide in the 2005 death of Teresa Halbach 

The papers allege the ex-boyfriend “had sustained visible injuries to his hands, from fingernail scratches, around the time of her disappearance.”

Zellner adds: “Ms Halbach’s ex-boyfriend initially gave the police a false name, minimised his relationship with her, lied about crime scene evidence, controlled and led the searchers to Ms Halbach’s vehicle, had unrestricted access to the Avery property to plant evidence.”