Ten years on from being sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of Teresa Halbach, Wisconsin man Brendan Dassey may be set free.
On Thursday, a three-person federal appeals panel said the confession from Dassey – who was sentenced to the rape and murder along with his uncle Steven Avery in 2007 – was improperly obtained, and as such, ruled that he be re-trialled or released from prison.
Explaining their 2-1 decision, The Guardian reported Judge Ilana Rovner said the panel was unable to find evidence that suggested Dassey's confession was truthful or accurate. She cited “the leading, the fact-feeding, the false promises, the manipulation of Dassey’s desire to please” used by the investigator who obtained the confession were among the reasons for their decision.
Following the decision, Judge David Hamilton, who voted against the dismissal said, “The majority’s decision breaks new ground and poses troubling questions for police and prosecutors. It calls into question standard interrogation techniques that courts have routinely found permissible, even in cases involving juveniles.”
Listen: Making A Murderer's Ken Kratz discusses Brendan Dassey walking free with Meshel Laurie. Post continues...
Teresa Halbach, a photographer, went missing on Halloween in 2005, hours after she had gone to Avery's farm to take pictures of his vehicle for a trade magazine.
Remains of Halbach's body and clothing were found in a fire pit on Avery's sprawling Manitowoc County farm. Her car was also found on the property.
The separate trials and eventual imprisonments of Avery and Dassey were the focus of the 2015 Netflix series, Making a Murderer.
Much of the footage shown within the documentary brought Dassey's admission of guilt into question due to the coercive tactics used by an investigator, Dassey's low IQ and the then 15-year-old's young age at the time of the crime.
Almost immediately after confessing, Dassey recounted and reclaimed his innocence.
An attorney working on Dassey's defence called this week's decision “a victory for Brendan”.
It is understood Dassey will either be retried by the state of Wisconsin within 90 days or released from prison.
Earlier this month, Avery's lawyer filed a 1272-page notice for post-conviction release, claiming there's reason to believe Ryan Hillegas, Halbach's former partner, may be the one really responsible for her 2005 murder.