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Brendan Dassey Of 'Making A Murderer' Ordered Released From Prison

A 2006 photo of Brendan Dassey leaving a court in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.
Morry Gash
A 2006 photo of Brendan Dassey leaving a court in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.

A judge in Wisconsin has ordered that Brendan Dassey, whose trial for murder was the plot of the Netflix documentary series Making A Murderer, must be released from prison.

In August, Judge William Duffin overturned Dassey's conviction for killing a woman in 2005, and said he must be released within 90 days unless prosecutors file an appeal. Wisconsin's attorney general did file a notice of appeal in September, calling the August decision "wrong on the facts and wrong on the law."

But Dassey's lawyers petitioned the court to release him despite the appeal, on the grounds that he did not pose a danger to the community and was not likely to run away. On Monday, the judge granted that petition, allowing Dassey to be released.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel told The Associated Press on Monday that he would file an emergency appeal to prevent Dassey's release.

Under the terms of the release order, Dassey will be supervised by the eastern Wisconsin federal probation office, and according to court documents his release is contingent upon multiple conditions, including not violating the law.

Under Wisconsin's sex offender registry law, Dassey may also be required to register as a sex offender despite the court's August reversal, because his original conviction included a charge of rape.

Dassey was convicted largely on the basis of a confession in which he told police he had helped to rape and kill a woman named Teresa Halbach.

As the Two-Way has reported:

"Dassey was 16 years old when he confessed to helping his uncle, Steven Avery, carry out the rape and murder of 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach.

"Halbach was killed at the Avery Salvage Yard, where she had been hired to photograph vehicles for a magazine, according to court documents. Investigators found burned human remains that matched Halbach's DNA, along with her car, where they discovered multiple bloodstains.


"The focus of the judge's decision was on the interrogation when Dassey confessed. Over the course of a three-hour period of questioning, 'generally responding to the investigators' questions with answers of just a few hushed words, a story evolved whereby in its final iteration Dassey implicated himself in the rape, murder and mutilation of Teresa Halbach,' according to the judge's [August] decision."

Investigators "exploited the absence of ... an adult by repeatedly suggesting that they were looking out for his interests," the decision stated, and ruled that the confession had been involuntary, and warranted overturning the original conviction.

Dassey's uncle is currently serving a life sentence for Halbach's murder. He was convicted in a separate trial.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rebecca Hersher (she/her) is a reporter on NPR's Science Desk, where she reports on outbreaks, natural disasters, and environmental and health research. Since coming to NPR in 2011, she has covered the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, embedded with the Afghan army after the American combat mission ended, and reported on floods and hurricanes in the U.S. She's also reported on research about puppies. Before her work on the Science Desk, she was a producer for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered in Los Angeles.

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