Prosecutors Fighting Decision to Overturn Conviction of Making a Murderer's Brendan Dassey
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel wants Brendan Dassey's murder conviction to stand — despite a federal judge's recent decision to reverse it
In a 151-page opening brief filed Wednesday in federal court and obtained by PEOPLE, Schimel argues that Dassey’s 2006 conviction for sexually assaulting, killing and mutilating 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach should be confirmed in the face of the reversal.
In March 2006, Dassey, then 16, told investigators he had helped Avery kill Halbach on Oct. 31, 2005. He later recanted that confession, claiming it had been coerced, and denied being involved in the murder.
In his Aug. 12 order, Judge William Duffin ruled the detectives investigating Halbach’s murder promised Dassey prosecutorial leniency in exchange for his cooperation during his interrogation.
But Schimel’s brief appealing Duffin’s ruling argues that Dassey’s confession was the very definition of voluntary under the law, noting the teen “willingly spoke with the investigators and was properly Mirandized.”
At no point during his admission was Dassey’s will “overborne,” Schimel says.
His brief cites additional legal standards that Dassey’s initial appeal allegedly failed to meet.
For instance, the attorney general argues that Dassey’s lawyers have failed to provide evidence supporting their client’s claim that because his interrogation was conducted without a parent or attorney present, his rights were violated.
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Schimel first filed a motion on Sept. 9, appealing the overturned conviction. Dassey’s fate now rests with the Seventh Circuit Court, which will determine whether the August ruling stands following the prosecution’s appeal.
On the day of the confession, lead investigators Tom Fassbender and Mark Wiegert pulled Dassey out of school and questioned him alone. During that questioning, Dassey told investigators he had helped Avery kill Halbach, saying that they shot her in the head and burned her body at a bonfire on the Avery property later that evening.
Calumet County Prosecutor Ken Kratz called a news conference shortly after investigators secured the confession, saying that Dassey described in detail Halbach’s brutal assault and slaying.
However, after seeing portions of the confession on Netflix, many viewers came to believe he was coerced by Fassbender and Wiegert, who repeatedly question him until the teen gives them a confession.
In a recorded exchange with his mother, Barb Janda, following the confession, Dassey said, “They got in my head.”
Dassey later denied that he ever saw Halbach and said he had nothing to do with her murder.