A federal judge has ordered that Brendan Dassey, one of the subjects of the popular Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer, be released from prison this Friday. Dassey's fate is still uncertain, however, as attorneys for the Wisconsin Department of Justice immediately filed an emergency motion with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the judge's order and keep the young man in jail.
Dassey was sentenced to life in prison in 2007 after being convicted of assisting his uncle, Steven Avery, in the 2005 rape, murder, and mutilation of Teresa Halbach. As detailed in Making a Murderer, Avery was exonerated from prison in 2003 after serving 18 years for a sexual assault that DNA evidence later proved he did not commit. Avery filed a $36 million lawsuit, but was soon arrested again for the assault and murder of Halbach.
Avery claimed that police framed him for the second murder by tampering with DNA evidence. Dassey was Avery's alibi for the second crime, but after being interrogated by police four times in 48 hours, he confessed that he and his uncle committed the crime. Dassey was only 16 at the time, however, and reportedly suffered from cognitive problems. Cops interrogated the teen three times in a 24-hour time frame with no legal representative, parent, or other adult present.
Dassey eventually recanted his confession, saying that his first defense counsel collaborated with the prosecution to convince him to plead guilty. This August, U.S. Magistrate Judge William Duffin overturned Dassey's conviction, ruling that investigators tricked the teen into confessing. The state Department of Justice appealed Duffin's ruling to the 7th District Court, but Dassey's attorneys requested that the young man, now 27, be freed from prison while awaiting the appeal. Duffin consented and ordered Dassey's release this week, but it still remains to be seen whether the District Court will allow him to be set free or not.