‘Making a Murderer’ defendant Brendan Dassey wins big victory in federal court

A three-judge federal appeals panel has affirmed that a Wisconsin inmate featured in the Netflix series “Making a Murderer” was coerced into confessing and should be released from prison.

Brendan Dassey was sentenced to life in prison in 2007 for the 2005 murder of photographer Teresa Halbach. Dassey told detectives he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape and kill Halbach in the Avery family’s Manitowoc County salvage yard.

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


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The state appealed Duffin’s ruling, putting the case before the federal appeals panel.

Thursday’s ruling doesn’t necessarily mean Dassey will be freed from prison. The state can still appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court or retry Dassey.

“We are still reviewing at this time,” said Johnny Koremenos, director of communications and public affairs for the DOJ.

The same court that sided with Dassey Thursday also denied his request last summer to be released while the DOJ’s appeal was pending before it.