Court Upholds Confession of Brendan Dassey From 'Making a Murderer' Documentary

Brendan Dassey
Brendan Dassey

A federal appeals court upheld Brendan Dassey’s murder conviction on Friday. 

Dassey, the nephew of convicted killer Steven Avery who was featured in the docuseries Making a Murderer, will now be required to serve the rest of his life in prison. 

The decision from the U. S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a federal judge's ruling that Dassey was coerced into falsely confessing to Teresa Halbach’s murder.

The now 28-year-old was convicted in 2007 in the murder of Halbach, a Wisconsin photographer.

In 2006, investigators offered Dassey, then 16,  the false promise that "he had nothing to worry about" while interrogating him about the Halbach slaying — without a parent or an attorney present.

Dassey confessed that he had helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape and kill Halbach.

He later recanted his confession.

His lawyers appealed through the state court system and then into the federal system, arguing that the confession was coerced. 

They also raised the issue of Dassey’s low IQ.

On Friday, the full Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 4-3 that the confession should stand.

“The state courts’ finding that Dassey’s confession was voluntary was not beyond fair debate, but we conclude it was reasonable,” the ruling said.

Dissenting Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner said the decision was a "profound miscarriage of justice," however.

“His confession was not voluntary and his conviction should not stand, and yet an impaired teenager has been sentenced to life in prison,” she wrote in her dissent.

Dassey’s conviction was overturned last year when a federal magistrate judge ruled that detectives took advantage of Dassey’s young age and low IQ to get him to confess.

A three-judge panel from the 7th Circuit upheld the ruling in June saying Dassey intimidated into saying he played a role in the 2005, but the state requested a review by the full 7th Circuit, which led to Friday’s ruling, reports said. 

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