Brendan Dassey, the Wisconsin man whose case was featured in the documentary series “Making a Murderer” and later had his conviction overturned, is to be released, a federal judge ruled on Monday, though prosecutors have said they will try to stop it.
U.S. Magistrate Judge William Duffin said in a 17-page decision that he would grant the request to release Dassey from prison, but imposed a number of restrictions on his freedom while prosecutors appeal the August ruling that overturned his conviction.
“Presumably, if the state had other admissible, compelling evidence of Dassey’s guilt, it would have presented it at trial or in opposition to Dassey’s motion for release,” Judge Duffin wrote in his ruling. “In the absence of any argument from the respondent on this point, the court must conclude that, without Dassey’s March 1, 2006 confession, retrial, reconviction, and re-incarceration are unlikely.”
But despite Monday’s ruling, it remains unclear when Dassey may actually be allowed to leave prison. Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, responding to the ruling, said he will file an emergency motion in the Seventh Circuit in an attempt to stop Dassey’s release.
Dassey, who is now 27, was convicted of first-degree murder and other charges over his alleged involvement in the 2005 killing of photographer Teresa Halbach. His uncle, Steven Avery, was the main suspect in the case.
Avery had previously been convicted for the sexual assault of a woman in 1985, only to be exonerated through DNA evidence after spending 18 years in prison. Avery’s arrest in the murder of Halbach raised questions as he was pursuing a $36 million civil lawsuit against county officials. The arrest forced Avery to settle for just $400,000.
The case of Avery and Dassey was relatively unknown until Netflix released the documentary series “Making a Murderer” in December 2015. The series, which showed Dassey being coerced into giving a confession while suffering from significant intellectual deficits, sparked national outrage and calls for their release.
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