Making a Murderer‘s Brendan Dassey will remain in prison pending the state’s appeal of his overturned murder conviction, a federal court ruled Thursday — less than 48 hours before his deadline to be released.
“We are disappointed more than words can say,” Dassey’s attorneys at the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth posted online. “The fight goes on.”
The brief decision handed down by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit granted an emergency motion to stay Dassey’s release. Authorities filed their challenge soon after a judge on Monday ordered Dassey, 27, to be freed no later than Friday at 8 p.m.
Dassey will now remain behind bars in Wisconsin while the state appeals his overturned conviction in the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach.
His conviction was tossed out in August. The judge cited “significant doubts” about the reliability of Dassey’s confession, which had been the centerpiece of the prosecution and was heavily scrutinized in Netflix’s Making a Murderer.
Dassey later recanted his confession, which he gave after hours of questioning, and claimed it was coerced. He has since denied involvement in Halbach’s death.
The case drew national attention after the premiere of Netflix’s docuseries, which cast a critical light on the investigation and the convictions of both Dassey and his uncle Steven Avery — though Halbach’s family has rebuked the show as one-sided.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel filed an appeal of Dassey’s overturned conviction in September after saying he would consult with Halbach’s family on next steps. In a statement to PEOPLE at the time, Schimel said, “We believe the magistrate judge’s decision … is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law.”
Schimel said state judges had previously “properly concluded” the confession was voluntary. “The Halbach family has been notified of the appeal and fully supports the state’s decision to seek justice on behalf of their daughter,” he said.
Absent a successful appeal, prosecutors could retry Dassey in Halbach’s death.
In his August decision, Judge William Duffin characterized the “misconduct” of Dassey’s first attorney as “indefensible,” and he said that authorities had inappropriately promised the then-16-year-old leniency in exchange for his confession.
“The investigators repeatedly claimed to already know what happened [when Halbach went missing] and assured Dassey that he had nothing to worry about,” Duffin wrote.
“These repeated false promises, 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 under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.”
• With CHRIS HARRIS