A local Fox affiliate reports that Attorney General Brad Schimel, on behalf of Warden Michael Dittmann and the State of Wisconsin, has filed an appeal in the decision to free Brendan Dassey, a subject of the Netflix docuseries “Making a Murderer.”
The now 26-year-old Dassey was convicted – along with his uncle, Steven Avery – at age 17 of the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach. He was sentenced to life in prison.
On August 12, a federal magistrate ordered Dassey be freed within 90 days unless prosecutors decided to re-try him for the murder.
The state instead decided to appeal the decision. If the appeal is unsuccessful, state prosecutors can still decide to re-try Dassey for the crimes.
“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,” Schimel said in a statement to reporters on Friday. “Two state courts carefully examined the evidence and properly concluded that Brendan Dassey’s confession to sexually assaulting and murdering Teresa Halbach with his uncle, Steven Avery, was voluntary, and the investigators did not use constitutionally impermissible tactics.”
Schimel also stated that the Halbach family had been notified of the state’s appeal and fully supports its decision.
The August ruling by federal magistrate judge William Duffin in Milwaukee was primarily based on his belief that Dassey’s constitutional rights were violated when authorities questioned him without an adult present.
Additionally, Duffin said that Dassey’s learning disabilities made him more susceptible to coercion by interrogators.
Further, the judge disapproved of the interrogators’ use of bluffing during Dassey’s questioning. They told the teen at least 21 times that they knew exactly what happened to Halbach. The judge felt that would have had a larger than usual effect on Dassey.
The investigators’ interrogations of Dassey were heavily featured on the Netflix series. Many who watched “Making a Murderer” were particularly aghast at the treatment of Dassey, who has learning disabilities and whose interrogation with police may have been marred by “interview contamination” – in which police let slip details to potential witnesses or suspects, leading them to believe and repeat certain facts.
As for Avery, his attorney, Kathleen Zellner, recently filed a request to retest evidence used in the trial against him in order to prove that local investigators planted evidence. She has also said new, “crucial” witnesses have come forward.
Netflix is currently in production on a second season of “Making a Murderer.”