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Will the Supreme Court Hear 'Making a Murderer' Case?

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 18, 2018 12:45 PM

If you don't want to hear any more about Brendan Dassey, you are not alone.

Dassey, whose tale played out on "Making a Murderer," was a 16-year-old with "intellectual deficits" at the time he was interrogated in the Wisconsin case. He confessed and was convicted with his uncle in the rape and murder of Teresa Halbach in 2005.

The case, unlike the Netflix documentary, has been going on for a decade. Attorneys for the state have asked the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear it all again.

'Making a Murder'

The Netflix series "strongly suggests" that Dassey and his uncle, Steven Avery, were wrongly convicted. Twelve jurors and six judges so far have disagreed.

Halbach, a 25-year-old photographer, disappeared after going to Avery's garage. He was convicted of rape and murder after police found the victim's blood, bone fragments, teeth and hair in his garage, car, and a nearby fire pit.

Dassey was convicted after he confessed during hours of questioning. On appeal, the main issue was whether his confession was voluntary.

The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said it was not, but later reversed that decision. The en banc panel said many factors showed Dassey willingly confessed.

"Dassey provided many of the most damning details himself in response to open-ended questions," Judge David Hamilton wrote in a 4-3 decision.

Another Chapter?

In dissent, Judge Ilana Rovner said Dassey confessed through a "perfect storm" of interrogations.

"No reasonable state court, knowing what we now know about coercive interrogation techniques and viewing Dassey's interrogation in light of his age, intellectual deficits, and manipulability, could possibly have concluded that Dassey's confession was voluntarily given," she wrote in Dassey v. Dittmann.

His attorneys petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for review, but attorneys for the state have asked the court to deny the petition. They claim investigators asked Dassey's mother for permission and read him his Miranda rights.

"Throughout the three-hour, noncustodial interview, investigators used only standard techniques such as adopting a sympathetic tone, encouraging honesty, and challenging his story when they believed he was lying," their brief says.

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