Conviction Overturned for Making a Murderer's Brendan Dassey

A federal judge rules that the then-teenager's murder confession was involuntary and his Constitutional rights were violated.


Brendan Dassey, who was tried in 2007 for allegedly helping his uncle Steven Avery murder Teresa Halbach, has had his conviction overturned by a federal judge in Milwaukee. The trials of Dassey and Avery were featured in the popular Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer.

Currently 26, Dassey is serving a life sentence and has been in prison since he was 16 years old. The learning-disabled teenager confessed to the alleged crime after police pulled him out of school for hours-long interrogations without his attorney or his mother present.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William Duffin ruled that police had made "repeated false promises" to elicit the confession and that,

"when considered in conjunction with all relevant factors, most especially Dassey's age, intellectual deficits, and the absence of a supportive adult, [they] rendered Dassey's confession involuntary under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments."

The state has 90 days to appeal the ruling or file for a new trial, after which Dassey will be released.

In June, Reason TV sat down with Jerry Buting, a defense attorney for Steven Avery who is featured prominently in Making a Murderer, for a wide-ranging discussion of the Dassey and Avery murder trials, updates since their convictions, and his prescriptions for fixing the criminal justice system. Buting goes into detail about the techniques police used to extract a confession from Dassey and the misconduct by his initial public defender, Len Kachinsky, which Duffin described in his ruling today as "inexcusable both tactically and ethically."

Watch the full interview here: