Criminal Justice

Judge orders release of nephew in 'Making a Murderer' case

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Making a Murderer

A federal magistrate judge on Monday ordered the release of Brendan Dassey, one of the two men whose cases were examined in the Making a Murderer Netflix series.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William Duffin of Milwaukee ordered (PDF) Dassey released pending the state’s appeal of his overturned conviction, report the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Dassey won’t be released immediately, according to the Journal Sentinel. Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel plans to seek a stay with the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to a press release (PDF).

Dassey’s lawyer, Steven Drizin, said he hoped to have Dassey home by Thanksgiving, if not sooner.

In August, Duffin overturned Dassey’s 2007 conviction for helping his uncle, Steven Avery, kill photographer Teresa Halbach. Duffin said police had used coercive techniques in getting 16-year-old Dassey to confess.

The state’s arguments against Dassey’s release relied on “conclusory assertions” about the need to keep inmates in prison pending appeal, Duffin said. The judge said Dassey had an “exceedingly benign” disciplinary record in prison. It included accepting Ramen noodle packets from another inmate without permission from prison authorities, and violating prison regulations by having items with tape in them and using prison forms to keep score in games.

“There is no hint of violent or antisocial behavior from his time in prison,” Duffin said.

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