Five Things to Know About the Making a Murderer Case Now That Brendan Dassey's Conviction Is Overturned
A lot has happened in the nine months since Netflix debuted its original docuseries
In 2006, a 16-year-old high school sophomore received a life sentence for his alleged role in the murder of 25-year-old Wisconsin photographer Teresa Halbach. Last week, a federal judge reversed Brendan Dassey’s conviction, leaving the state three months to appeal before the 26-year-old is freed. For PEOPLE’s in-depth look at the case, pick up this week’s issue on newsstands Friday or subscribe now
It has been nine months since Netflix debuted its original docuseries Making a Murderer, captivating true crime fans the world over. And as Brendan Dassey’s supporters learned last week, a lot can happen in nine months.
Making a Murderer‘s ten-episode run focused on the murder trials and eventual convictions of Dassey and his uncle, Steven Avery, for Halbach’s killing. Dassey and Avery maintain their innocence, and insist the real killer walks free. Last week, a judge moved to overturn Dassey’s conviction, meaning he could be released from prison within the next three months.
Here are five things to know about the Making a Murderer case after last week’s momentous development:
1. Avery and Dassey have new lawyers representing them
Avery is now represented by Kathleen Zellner, who specializes in wrongful convictions. She has partnered with Wisconsin lawyer Tricia Bushnell to represent Avery going forward. His former counsel, Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, are no longer handling Avery’s case, but claim there is new evidence that could help him as he appeals his conviction.
Long ago, Dassey parted ways with the two public defenders who represented him at trial, and has since secured Laura Nirider as his attorney. Nirider filed the writ of habeas corpus that led to last week’s judicial order quashing Dassey’s conviction.
2. In overturning Dassey’s conviction, the judge cited interrogators’ promise of leniency
On Friday, a federal judge overturned Dassey’s murder conviction, deeming it illegal. The judge said he had “significant doubts” concerning the reliability of Dassey’s confession, noting the detectives handling the investigation promised the 16-year-old prosecutorial leniency in exchange for his cooperation during his March 1, 2006, interrogation.
Now, the state has 90 days to appeal or initiate a retrial. At the end of the 90-day period, Dassey will be set free. Prosecutors could move to release him before then, according to experts.
Last week’s decision was the first piece of positive news Dassey has received since the start of his incarceration more than 10 years ago.
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3. Legal experts believe the state will appeal last week’s decision to overturn Dassey’s conviction
Legal experts familiar with Dassey’s case tell PEOPLE the 26-year-old will likely remain in prison for at least the next year because they anticipate Wisconsin’s attorney general will appeal last week’s ruling.
According to Julius Kim, who had worked as an assistant district attorney in Wisconsin’s Milwaukee County, the AG’s office “will do everything it can to preserve the conviction, because if they don’t appeal, it could be viewed as a silent confession that they did something wrong to secure the conviction in the first place.”
But Erica Suter, an appellate and post-conviction relief attorney based in Washington, D.C., says she thinks any appeal would merely delay Dassey’s inevitable release, and claims the state “doesn’t have much of a case” against him.
To read more about the latest in Brendan Dassey’s case, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.
4. A second season is in the works for the Netflix series
Last weekend, Making a Murderer filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos returned to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, to start taping for the show’s second season.
The documentarians confirm the upcoming episodes will focus on Dassey’s bid for freedom and Avery’s various appeals.
Netflix is remaining tight-lipped about the series’ second installment, and have given no indication on when the new episodes will begin airing.
5. Filmmakers have claimed a juror from Avery’s trial told them jurors ‘feared for their personal safety’
Since Making a Murderer debuted, Emos and Ricciardi claim they’ve been contacted by one of the jurors who, they insist, “sat through Steven Avery’s trial and shared with us their thoughts and they told us that they believe Steven Avery was not proven guilty, they believe that Steven was framed by law enforcement.”
The filmmakers claim the juror told them he believes Avery deserves a new trial as jurors moved to convict solely because they “feared for their personal safety.”
It has also come to light that another of the jurors was the father of a Manitowoc County sheriff’s deputy, while still another was the husband of a woman working in the Manitowoc County Clerk’s Office.