What Brendan Dassey's Overturned Conviction Means for Steven Avery
Update: Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, the directors behind the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer have also weighed in via press release, as they are filming the second season of the documentary series. “Today there was a major development for the subjects in our story and this recent news shows the criminal justice system at work,” they said. “As we have done for the past 10 years, we will continue to document the story as it unfolds, and follow it wherever it may lead.”
As many of you are no doubt seeing right now, Brendan Dassey — one of the subjects of the Making the Murderer documentary on Netflix — has had his conviction overturned, after serving nine years of his life sentence. His conviction is being overturned because of the misconduct of his defensive attorney, Len Kachinsky. The court also ruled that Dassey’s conviction was elicited involuntarily and was based on “false promises” by interrogators to an underage suspect who was mentally deficient.
What does that mean?
It doesn’t mean that Dassey is innocent, necessarily. It means that the confession was elicited illegally, and since his conviction was based on that confession, the conviction was thrown out. The state, however, has 90 days to retry Dassey or release him.
Will they retry him? It seems unlikely, because the confession was the most crucial piece of evidence in Dassey’s original trial. Without it, they can’t connect Dassey to the Halbach murder. There’s not enough physical evidence from the scene, and there are no witnesses who can place Dassey there.
In all likelihood, whether he is guilty or not, Dassey is going free. As far as I’m concerned, even if he Is guilty of being an accomplice, his time served is sufficient punishment. If he was involved in the murder of Halbach, it was clearly under the direction of Steven Avery, who possessed a great deal of influence and power over Dassey. Dassey, as his elicited confession revealed, could be easily manipulated.
What does this mean for Steven Avery? Probably very little. As viewers of the documentary may recall, Brendan Dassey’s confession was never used against Avery, and Brendan Dassey was never called as a witness, probably because the prosecution knew he was unreliable.
In other words, Avery’s almost certainly going to remain in jail, because he totally did it.
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