'Making a Murderer' One Year Later: How Life Has Changed For Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey

Steven Avery is appealing his conviction while Brendan Dassey's conviction has been overturned

Photo: Dan Powers/Post-Cresent/AP

A little more than a year ago, Steven Avery sat in jail, convicted for the 2005 murder of 25-year-old Wisconsin photographer Teresa Halbach. His nephew, Brendan Dassey, was also behind bars for his part in the killing. Most Americans knew nothing about the case.

But that was before Making a Murderer, the Netflix docuseries that premiered on December 18, 2015. The ten-episode series explored the evidence against Avery and Dassey, raising the possibility that they could be innocent.

Making a Murderer was a commercial and critical success, with millions of viewers. The series sparked controversy and outrage across America. More than 500,000 people signed a petition asking the White House to pardon Avery. (President Barack Obama replied that he had no authority to intervene in a state criminal case.)

However, Halbach’s family has rebuked the show, claiming it was one-sided.

A year after the docuseries’ release, things have changed significantly for both Dassey and Avery.

Steven Avery: Still Appealing His Conviction

Avery, 53, continues to maintain his innocence and is appealing his conviction.

In August, his attorneys filed a motion to have experts test the evidence that had been used to convict him. Avery has long claimed that the evidence was planted in retribution for a $36 million lawsuit he had against the police.

In September, Avery announced his engagement to legal secretary Lynn Hartman. The couple appeared on Dr. Phil in their first television interview, speaking about how they fell in love.

• 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.

“Steven deserves every bit of happiness that comes his way,” Avery’s attorney Kathleen Zellner told PEOPLE at the time. “He is very much in love and happy with Lynn so we are happy for them.”

But the relationship didn’t work out: Within a few weeks, the couple had split.

Brendan Dassey: Conviction Overturned

In August, a federal judge overturned Dassey’s murder conviction.

PEOPLE obtained a copy of Judge William Duffin’s decision, in which he characterized the “misconduct” of Dassey’s first attorney, Len Kachinsky, as “indefensible.”

Eric Young/AP

Dassey confessed to the killing during his his 2006 interrogation, but later recanted, saying the confession was coerced. He has since denied involvement in Halbach’s death.

The judge’s order claims the detectives who were investigating Halbach’s murder promised Dassey prosecutorial leniency in exchange for his cooperation during his interrogation. Dassey is described by multiple people on the show as having severe learning disabilities.

• Pick up PEOPLE’s special edition True Crime Stories: Cases That Shocked America, on sale now, for the latest on Casey Anthony, JonBenét Ramsey and more.

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

Despite the decision, Dassey currently remains in jail while prosecutors appeal the decision.

Making A Murderer: A Second Season

After the success of the first season, filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos will venture back into the case for a second season. The new installments will follow the appeals process for both Avery and Dassey.

According to a Netflix press release, the second season will “provide an in-depth look at the high-stakes post-conviction process, as well as the emotional toll the process takes on all involved.”

The release date and the number of episodes have not been revealed.

Related Articles