Lawyer for 'Making a Murderer' 's Brendan Dassey Says He's Taking It 'One Day at a Time'

Attorney Laura Nirider tells PEOPLE Dassey is "doing the best he can do" as he awaits the state's next move

Photo: Barbara Tadych

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.

Last week’s decision by a federal judge to overturn Brendan Dassey’s murder conviction came as a shock to many fans of Making a Murderer, the hit Netflix true crime documentary series.

But nobody was more stunned than Dassey’s lawyer, Laura Nirider, she tells PEOPLE.

“I think everybody on Brendan’s team feels shock, joy, relief and intense gratitude that this judge finally got it right, and finally gave Brendan justice,” Nirider says.

“At this point, we’re just waiting to hear what the state will do and then we will move from there,” she adds.

The state has 90 days to appeal or initiate a retrial. At the end of the 90 day period, Dassey will be set free. (The state can also release Dassey at any time during the 90-day period.

In March 2006, Dassey, who is described by multiple people in the series as having learning disabilities, told investigators he’d helped his uncle Steven Avery rape and murder photographer Teresa Halbach on Oct. 31, 2005. He later recanted his statement, claiming the confession had been coerced.

To read more about the latest in Brendan Dassey’s case, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.

Dassey’s confession to law enforcement is perhaps the most debated aspect of the Netflix series. Last week’s judicial order holds the detectives who were investigating Halbach’s murder promised Dassey prosecutorial leniency in exchange for his cooperation during his March 1, 2006, interrogation.

Making a Murderer’s Brendan Dassey Released from Prison as Conviction for Teresa Halbach’s Murder Overturned

“The investigators repeatedly claimed to already know what happened on Oct. 31 and assured Dassey that he had nothing to worry about,” the judge said in his decision. “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.”

The judge’s decision indicates he had “significant doubts” concerning the reliability of Dassey’s confession.

Last week’s decision “overwhelmed” both of Dassey’s lawyers, who say the order restores a “fundamental principle that is too often forgotten by courts and law enforcement officers: interrogation tactics which may not be coercive when used on adults are coercive when used on juveniles, particularly young people like Brendan with disabilities.”

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Nirider tells PEOPLE Dassey is “doing the best he can do” as he awaits the state’s next move. “It’s been one day at a time for the past ten years and he’s been waiting for this moment so he’s just processing it and understanding what’s happening and taking it one day at a time.”

Nirider says she has no idea how the state plans to proceed, but is looking “forward to taking the appropriate next steps to secure Brendan’s release from prison as soon as possible and we are thrilled for him.”

With reporting by CAITLIN KEATING

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