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'Making a Murderer': Federal court upholds overturned conviction

By Ed Adamczyk
'Making a Murderer': Federal court upholds overturned conviction
The 2016 overturning of the murder conviction of Brendan Dassey was upheld Thursday by a Chicago federal appeals court. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Department of Corrections

June 23 (UPI) -- A prisoner featured in the Netflix series Making A Murderer was coerced into confessing as a teenager and should be released from prison, a federal appeals panel ruled.

In a 2-1 vote on Thursday, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld a 2016 ruling by U.S. Magistrate William Duffin that overturned the murder conviction of Brendan Dassey. Duffin determined that Dassey's constitutional rights were violated because investigators for the prosecution made false promises during multiple interrogations.

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Dassey was convicted in the 2005 rape and murder of photographer Teresa Halbach in Milwaukee. His uncle, Steven Avery, also is serving a life term in connection with the killing and is appealing his conviction. The case was the topic of the documentary series Making a Murderer, broadcast by Netflix.

Duffin ruled that investigators made "repeated false promises" during Dassey's interrogation that, "when considered in conjunction with all relevant factors, most especially Dassey's age, intellectual deficits and the absence of a supportive adult, rendered Dassey's confession involuntary."

The federal panel ruled that Dassey's confession, in which he said he helped his uncle in raping and killing Halbach, was involuntary under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

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The state appealed Duffin's ruling to the federal appeals panel. It can also choose to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, or to retry Dassey.

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